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Henninger HS Students Turn Lobbyists for Public School Funding

Chris Bolt/WAER News

  A group of students from Henninger High School delivered hundreds of signatures to state lawmakers' offices here in Syracuse Monday pushing for more school funding. The students think they might have a strong voice to push for change. 

Sophomore Aeme Shukuru likes global studies and history because she thinks she might want to work one day in the United Nations helping immigrants. She hopes her efforts speak to those in Albany. 

"I think it has a lot of meaning because we're actually taking time to go deliver and showing we really want changes in our school, instead of the teacher. It's not going to have the same impact, because we're the ones who's going to experience the changes." 

She was joined by Olivier Nshimiye...who's also confident his time makes a difference. 

"Having students deliver the petitions shows how worried the students are about the schools because when an adult or a teacher go do that, they don't really know what's going on, they don't really experience these kind of things students have been going through." 

The petition was circulated by Parents for Public Schools, calling for increased funding to make up for cuts Henninger and the entire district suffered back during the recession - and still find themselves behind in the funding formula. They're also rallying around the school bussing issue..."Two Miles is Too Far." The district recently reduced the range to 1.5 miles. Kema Ndebay is actually within bussing range but still doesn't get a ride.

"Today was one of those days; it was pouring outside and, I mean, I had to do it. My main goal is to get out of high school and create a future for myself, so through rain or hail, I still have to come school."

Aeme Shukuru agrees...more funding for schools and issues such as bus transportation really can impact a future. 

"It really makes a difference because you actually have students in class on time. Attendance kind of plays a big part in the education system. One of my friends said, 'A teacher cannot teach to empty desks.' So if you show up on time, you get your education; you're good to go." 

They dropped petitions off at the offices of Senators Dave Valesky and John Defrancisco and Assembly Member Bill Magnarelli...who will all be considering the state budget this week.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.