Niagara Gazette — Andrew Zuccari, Jake Schoelles, Jack Buddenhagen, Joe Corio and about 250 of their fellow Niagara-Wheatfield High School students have a message for Albany and the way politicians are treating students.
Together they raised their voices Thursday morning before their school day began, rallying behind a call to properly fund education across New York.
They're paying attention to the reports about the Gap Elimination Adjustment. They know their home school district is up against a financial wall. They realize the decisions made in the next few weeks by those in Albany and the leaders at home will affect the lives of countless students coming through the school doors for years to come.
They felt there was no choice but to step up to the microphone and let everyone know the students are fed up and not willing to take it anymore.
"We don't appreciate what's happening right now," Zuccari, a junior at the high school, said following the well-attended rally. "When I came up with the idea of the rally, I really stressed getting the point across we're not against the teachers or the school district. We're protesting the state and how they're not funding education. We want the funding back now before we lose it for good."
Thursday's rally began inside Zuccari's head just a few short weeks ago. He tossed the idea around with his friends he knew had sway, including Scholles, who serves as the senior class president and student liaison to the district school board, and gained instant traction. Two days ago, the group began disseminating flyers to the students en masse, with social media posts backing the call to join.
Zuccari said it's his class and those younger who'll suffer the most if state obstacles like the GEA, which has reduced funding to districts across the sate since 2010 following the 2008 housing and stock markets crashes, aren't eliminated or dramatically reduced. He's scared what Niagara-Wheatfield will look like if Superintendent Lynn Fusco is forced to present a budget proposal cutting $2.3 million and a tax levy increase of 4.8 percent next month.