Oklahoma City high school seek help to save programs from budget cuts

OKLAHOMA CITY - It's a waiting game at this point.

School districts across the state are waiting to find out what cuts could be in their future.

Now, a group of students is taking matters into their own hands to try and protect their school activities from being on the chopping block.

"A lot of people don't understand what the students and the families are going through when we say budget cuts. And, the budget cuts do affect the society and the community as a whole,” said Joseph Al-Batati, a senior at Southeast High School.

A group of students at Southeast High School sent NewsChannel 4 an email, asking Oklahomans to hear their voices.

Al-Batati loved drama class, saying it helped him overcome stage fright.

However, the program was cut this year.

"They force us to try new things, to get out of our comfort zone and to push ourselves. If we don't learn that at an early age, it's a lot harder to pick up later on,” Al-Batati said.

For the teenagers here, a robotics competition is an expense they have to fund on their own.

"We were supposed to go to a national robotics tournament, but some of the funding fell through, so we weren't able to go so we've been trying to fundraise on our own,” said Jordan Ramirez, a senior at Southeast High School.

Last spring, $30 million was cut from Oklahoma City Public Schools' budget.

Now, the district could be hit with another $10 million cut.

"We're still waiting for the next wave of cuts. What's going to come? Where else can we cut? We've already, we're at the bare minimum at this point,” said Mylissa Hall, principal for Southeast High School.

Private donors are now providing many of the resources for the school.

One art teacher said his annual budget dropped 30 percent to $1,300 a year for school supplies.

"We had a teacher leave an art show on Friday to see if he could get free paper so the kids could keep their program, so we're looking at the community to give us things so we can sustain," Hall said.

"I just try to do the best I can with what I have,” said Rajah Kennedy, the school's band teacher.

Kennedy said 17 students are currently sharing four music books.

In fact, anything new in the classroom was from a donation, and it means a lot to the students.

"Without music, I don't think I'd be as happy. Yeah, music makes me happy," said Charles Watson, a high school senior.

This coming year, Southeast will cut four positions.

There's a fundraising concert featuring students and professionals playing together Friday in the school auditorium.

The proceeds will go back to fund music at Southeast.