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      Parents and students write hundreds of letters to Governor asking for state aid

      Parents and students attend budget meeting Monday to discuss $1.1 Million deficit.

      The Westhill Central School District is facing $1.1 million in cuts for the 2013-2014 school year.

      Parents were encouraged to attend a budget meeting Monday night to discuss the cuts. A substantial number of students attended the meeting as well, including Westhill High School Senior, Kathleen McGraw.

      "I have a younger brother who's a freshman in the district and just knowing he's not going to have the same awesome teachers that I had. It's such a small school, you see in the hallways the teachers being cut. Everyone knows," says McGraw.

      The district is considered one of the best in Central New York with a 95% graduation rate in 2012. It is looking at eliminating three elementary school teachers and all teaching assistants, a librarian, as well as some language, health, and english teachers in middle and high school.

      Senior Michael Cisternino says it's hard because in this small community, everyone knows which teachers will lose their jobs.

      "We've grown up with these teachers and they've been so helpful and they've been awesome," says Cisternino.

      These same teachers have been encouraging their students to speak out and be heard. Hundreds of letters have been written by parents and students to Governor Cuomo and local legislators, essentially begging for more funding for the district.

      A group of parents and students, some only in elementary school, traveled to Senator Defrancisco's office last week to read their letters outloud. Andy Starowicz was brought to tears when he heard his 3rd grade daughter passionately defend her teachers.

      "It was heartfelt. Spoken from the mouths of babes. They're the ones who know and the nice part is it was every level. Third grade, sixth grade, seventh grade, ninth grade, high school, a senior was speaking," says Starowicz.

      The letters may only serve as a symbolic gesture. But it's clear this westside community stands behind their childrens' education.