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Boston Students Walk Out Of Classes To Protest Proposed Budget Cuts At City Hall

BOSTON (CBS) -- Hundreds of students across the city walked out of classes Tuesday afternoon to protest proposed cuts to the Boston Public Schools budget.

The students walked out of classes around 1 p.m. Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson invited all students who walk out to come to a city hall budget hearing at 2 p.m.

Chants of "Walk out, fight back" rang out on City Hall Plaza Tuesday afternoon. Jahi, a senior at Boston Green Academy in Brighton said the students' message is pretty clear--they want more money for public schools, and want Mayor Walsh to stick to his word.

"He had claimed in the past, ever since the last walkout, that budget cuts were saved among most high schools and such, which actually wasn't even true," he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker.

Anthony, a junior at Boston Latin School, said he wants less money to go to charter schools and more into their schools.

"I want to let people know that students aren't going to be pushed around by big bucks," said Anthony. "We're not going to watch money that's supposed to be going into our public schools go into the charter schools."

In March, thousands of BPS students walked out of classes in protest of a proposed budget cut of millions of dollars. Mayor Walsh said he added $13.5 million to last year's $1 billion school budget, but Jackson and other critics say that's not enough to compete with inflation.

Students say they will see larger class sizes as a result, layoffs of staff like librarians, and fewer services for autistic students.

WBZ-TV's David Robichaud reported that rumors that students would be locked in during the walkout, or that they would not be allowed to walk in graduation if they walked out, were not true.

Earlier Tuesday, Boston Public Schools discouraged students from participating in the walkout.

BPS sent a letter to headmasters and principals Tuesday saying they did not condone the walkout. The letter expressed officials' concern that the walkout would put additional unwanted pressure on students taking the upcoming "high-stakes" 10th grade MCAS testing.

BPS Protesters
Protesters outside Boston City Hall express concerns about proposed budge cuts. (WBZ-TV)

BPS said the students were free to leave, but they would be marked absent.

"BPS does not sanction the walkout; please encourage students to stay in school," the letter to principals and headmasters read. "We encourage those of you supporting middle school students to be prepared with alternative activities that will keep them safe until a supervised dismissal at the normal time."

Mayor Walsh said Monday that he believes Jackson and other adults, not kids, are behind the movement.

"It bothers me a lot that adults are putting kids in harm's way," the mayor told WBZ Monday.

But Jackson on Monday rejected any notion that the protests are organized by grownups.

"It's civics 101," he said. "Young people taking a real role as city leaders."

One female student told WBZ-TV the demonstration was about current students and those in the future as well.

"We need to prove that we're not stupid, that we care about our education. We need to help future generations," she said.

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