THE Philadelphia School District is asking the city for $60 million to avoid dramatic cuts to next year's budget. Mayor Nutter wants to raise the money through a tax increase on liquor by the drink and cigarettes. City Council member Maria Quinones-Sanchez wants to increase a tax on some business properties.

It's time to generate new ideas for finding money for the schools, and we want to hear from the students in the district, who have the most to lose. We're inviting essays from students on how the city should respond to the budget crisis in the school district. First prize is a $100 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Essays will be judged on creativity and strength of argument; winning essays will be published in the Daily News. Send essays of 350 words or less by May 31 to views@phillynews.com or to Editorial Board, Philadelphia Daily News, 801 Market St. Ste. 300, Philadelphia, PA 19107