And they shouted in agreement as several other speakers, including parents, home-and-school leaders, and students, said it was time to send a message to the governor and the politicians in Harrisburg.
"This is a senseless proposal," said Susan Gobreski, whose daughter Katie is a student at the Masterman School. "They work for us. . . . Their priorities need to be our priorities."
The rally, in the parking lot of the Trolley Car Diner on Germantown Avenue in East Mount Airy, was one of several that have been staged across the city as residents protest a proposed $2.8 billion district budget that, if enacted, would bring drastic changes to the school system.
A citywide rally is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday in Dilworth Plaza.
The district, in order to bridge an estimated $620 million budget gap, has called for elimination of more than 3,000 jobs, the end of full-day kindergarten, cuts in most transportation services, and reductions in many other areas, including arts, music, and athletic programs.
Michael Masch, district chief financial officer, told the crowd that cuts in state and federal funding for education coupled with mandated costs had created the gap and that unless funding was restored, the district would have no choice but to make the cuts in order to present a balanced budget.
He, like nearly every other speaker, urged residents to petition elected officials in the city and in Harrisburg.
"The echo . . . reverberates," he said in encouraging those who showed up Sunday to turn out for Wednesday's rally and to keep the pressure on elected officials.
In defending his fiscal stance, Corbett has said he had to make decisions across the board to curtail state spending and reduce the flow of red ink. Aid to education is just one of several areas targeted for belt-tightening.
"Nobody, including myself, wants to just go in there and cut. It's not pleasant. But my job is to make the hard decisions," he said.
Masch said that a projected state budget surplus and other tax sources could provide the money that thus far the governor had decided not to commit to education.
Kevin Peter, one of the organizers of Sunday's protest, said the goal was to keep people focused on the issue of ensuring that the city continued to have strong public schools.
Contact staff writer George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or email@example.com.