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Dozens protest loss of Brentwood programs

Protesters angry over cuts in Brentwood school district sports and other programs assembled outside the school board’s budget hearing Monday night.

The crowd of about 40 gathered along Third Avenue holding signs that read “Save Our Sports,” “Put Our Kids First” and “Our Money for Our Kids.”

“Students are really upset,” said Kendra Cornejo, 18, a senior at Brentwood High School and student council president. “It’s not fair that we’re spending money on ridiculous things and can’t give it back to the kids.”

The district’s proposed $311,477,042 budget would eliminate all middle school and junior varsity ninth-grade sports, as well as varsity lacrosse, winter track and golf programs, officials said. The district’s 105 teams would be reduced to 18 teams next year. The budget also reduces the number of Advanced Placement and elective courses, officials said.

Karen Smith, 50, president of the PTAs of Brentwood High and South Middle schools, has three children who graduated from district schools and played sports. She and others who spoke later at the budget hearing said eliminating sports would endanger students, who will be left without supervision and alternatives in a community plagued by gang violence.

Superintendent Joseph Bond blamed the cuts on reductions in state aid and said officials are hoping to reinstate some sports or programs through fundraisers.

“We’re trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got,” he said. “Nobody wants to cut any sports, but when you have budget cuts you have to make decisions.”

District spokesman Rick Belyea said anyone seeking more information about the budget can contact him at 631-434-2334.

 

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