Third-grader enlists in budget battle

Eight-year-old Bustleton girl pe­ti­tions to halt dis­trict lay­offs.

Small won­der: Aman­da Toska, an 8-year-old Anne Frank Ele­ment­ary School pu­pil, heard about im­pend­ing lay­offs from a teach­er some weeks ago and im­me­di­ately star­ted a pe­ti­tion against them. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHO­TOS

As far as 8-year-old Aman­da Toska is con­cerned, if the school dis­trict wants to cut back on something, it should be home­work, not staff.

“Just be­cause the gov­ern­ment doesn’t have enough money, doesn’t mean they should can­cel all the stuff,” the Anne Frank Ele­ment­ary third-grader said Tues­day. “Kids need a big­ger ho­ri­zon.”

Aman­da be­came wor­ried about school lay­offs after she saw some teach­ers wear­ing “Save Our Schools” plac­ards in her school’s park­ing lot. The Bustleton young­ster star­ted a pe­ti­tion drive to try to halt job cuts.

The en­thu­si­ast­ic pe­ti­tion­er col­lec­ted sig­na­tures from oth­er kids, par­ents and neigh­bors, stop­ping to ex­plain the dis­trict’s budget woes to any­one who asked.

“She even brought [the pe­ti­tion] to her cous­in’s gradu­ation,” her mom, Fe­li­cia, said.

In a couple of weeks, Aman­da had 200 sig­na­tures on her “Pe­ti­tion to stop the school budget cuts,” which she turned in to Anne Frank’s prin­cip­al, Mickey Ko­m­ins. 

Ko­m­ins said he has shown Aman­da’s pe­ti­tion to his su­per­visor and in­tends to show it to politi­cians, too.

Aman­da said she had plenty of help from her friends, who also aided in the cre­ation of a  “Save the Schools” poster. “They de­serve a lot of cred­it,” she said of her friends.

Aman­da said she wanted to in­terest more pu­pils in the dis­trict’s fisc­al prob­lems, so she drew a com­ic strip de­pict­ing her and her class­mates fight­ing off a mon­strous budget cut fig­ure that “is tak­ing away learn­ing and just ate the gym teach­er!”

On June 7, Schools Su­per­in­tend­ent Wil­li­am Hite an­nounced more than 3,700 dis­trict em­ploy­ees will be let go Ju­ly 1 un­less the dis­trict re­ceives an in­fu­sion of money. About 20 of those lay­offs would be at Anne Frank. ••

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