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Parents & Teachers Hold Rally To Block Charter School Budget Cuts

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A weekend rally designed to get the attention of Baltimore school leaders is one way parents and teachers are trying to block deep budget cuts to the city's charter schools. The proposal, which could save the district millions, is on hold.

But, as Gigi Barnett explains, parents and students say the plan could shut down their schools.

Participants were dressed in orange t-shirts and armed with banners and signs. The rally at Lake Montebello Park in northeast Baltimore was designed to send a message to Baltimore school leaders.

"When there is a cut, someone loses," said Endya Rice, Baltimore International Academy parent. "And unfortunately, it starts at the bottom and our children will be directly impacted."

This isn't the first time charter school parents, students and teachers rallied against the controversial plan that would cut at least $42 million to their schools. Earlier this week, they filled the district's headquarters, pleading with school leaders not to approve the deep budget cuts.

City School CEO Gregory Thornton came up with the proposal to save the district's cash-strapped budget and funnel more money to the central office.

This weekend, the plan is on hold---but parents say their rallies aren't.

"We love our charter schools. We love the idea that if we want to be in these charter schools, that our kids will have these resources. So please hear us," said Tieaste Harris, KIPP Harmony assistant principal.

"They'll see and hear how upset and frustrated some of these parents are," said Trenessa Annibal, Baltimore International Academy parent.

Annibal's five-year-old daughter attends the Baltimore International Academy. It's a charter with an immersion language program. Annibal says there needs to be more transparency of the district's budget.

"All the time we hear about the casinos and monies coming into the state and we're getting money from here and here," she said. "Where is it and why isn't it going to our schools?"

With the threat of budget cuts, at least 13 charter schools are in danger of shutting down for good. Eight of those schools are on the city's highest-performing list.

Baltimore has 34 charter schools altogether. Recently, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked former mayor Kurt Schmoke to step in and mediate a solution between the district and charter schools.

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