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Hundreds of students to rally on North Broad over school cuts

A couple hundred students from several Philadelphia high schools will protest outside the city school district headquarters Tuesday afternoon in the wake of news that devastating "doomsday" cuts face the district unless $300 million is found, according to one of the student organizers Monday night.

About 200 students, including many planning to march from the High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) in South Philadelphia, will rally at 4:30 p.m. outside the district headquarters on North Broad Street, according to Masterman High School sophomore Anea Moore.

"This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and with the budget cuts next year, we'll be cutting a lot of teaching jobs and music, arts, and sports programs. So we decided that this week would be the right time," Moore said. "I don't believe ever once have school district representatives asked students what they want."

The school district declared two weeks ago that it needed to fill a $300 million deficit in the 2013-2014 budget through emergency funding from the city — $60 million — and state — $120 million — along with labor union concessions if it wanted to avoid drastic cuts to staff and programming.

The Inquirer reported Monday that everything from nurses to athletics to security guards to music classes would be cut while class sizes would increase.

"To me, it seems like the school district is telling us that students who want to become musicians and artists are less important than students who want to become doctors and lawyers," Moore said, noting that students at CAPA first organized the Tuesday protest two weeks ago. "All students should be equal."

Students will carry signs and give speeches outside the district headquarters for about an hour, she said.

But their call to be included in the discussion of the future of city schools likely won't end there.

"We fully plan to make this into a movement if the school district doesn't respond to our march," Moore said.