Parents, students and community members rallied at the State Office Building in Utica on Friday, asking state lawmakers to fund the collective $57 million owed to the Utica and Rome School Districts.

They say Utica is owed $44 million dollars in Foundation Aid and Rome is owed $13 million.

"We are not just a line item in the budget. When you don't fund our schools, we are the ones who suffer the consequences,” said Aemani Barton, Seventh Grader at Donovan Middle School. “We don't have textbooks for our schools here in Utica, we don't have locks on our bathrooms, there's not enough funding for healthy lunch items, we don't have enough school supplies or up-to-date learning lessons. Governor Cuomo and the state legislature need to tax the rich and fund our schools."

Following the rally, a box of homemade Valentines for public education were delivered to Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon’s office, asking lawmakers to “have a heart, fund our schools.”

photo courtesy of Citizen Action New York