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Art Programs May Face Final Curtain Call In Philadelphia Schools

By: Syma Chowdhry

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia's school budget crisis is taking a toll on the arts.

Students at F. Amedee Bregy Elementary are performing what could be their last school musical.

The school district has asked the city for $60 million and the state for $120 million. Without the money, teachers face layoffs and programs like this will be cut.

"This is our greatest challenge that I've seen over the years," said music teacher Joseph Gorman.

Gorman has been a music teacher for more than 25 years and says the arts are being pushed aside due to lack of funding.

"A large drop in instrumental programs. It is a sad thing. Kids need this kind of activity in schools," he said.

Mayor Nutter went to Harrisburg Tuesday to push for more state funding for schools.

He also announced the city will aggressively collect delinquent real estate taxes to provide funds for school.

The money hasn't come soon enough for some at Bregy.

Four staff members have already received pink slips.

"It's going to be catastrophic," said Desiree Thompson. "We already saw 3,800 layoff notices given to counselors, noon time aides, assistant principals. This is like a bare-boned school that we will have and our kids deserve so much more."

Thompson is with the advocacy group Public Citizens for Children and Youth which provides grants for schools.

She says the district is in a dire situation.

"It's crucial they find the funding for our kids because this musical was made with $3,500. And while teachers and students shouldn't have to be magicians with all this money, they've had to," said Thompson.

Parents and students agree.

"To do different things with other people, it bonds everybody together," said student Tashen McMullin.

"It makes her blossom, even my son who is autistic who is in an autistic support class. He plays some music in the classroom and he loves it," said a parent.

"I love these shows that kids create altogether. It brings unity," said parent Damaris Alvarado.

Parents, teachers and students will all be keeping a close eye on the looming budget cuts, hoping the curtain does not close on the school's music and arts program.

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