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Apr 10, 2013 1:41 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Ocotillo Learning Center spared from cuts

TUCSON - The Sunnyside Unified School District will spare a pre-kindergarten facility from the budget axe.

The Ocotillo Learning Center and a family reading program serve about 150 students, half of them with speech difficulties.

Parents and teachers showed up at Tuesday Night's SUSD Board Meeting at Sunnyside High School in large numbers to support Ocotillo. Their efforts paid off, the board removed the facility from the chopping block.

Dozens turned out to support Ocotillo using colorful sighs to display their love of the early learning center that serves newborns through age 5 and families for free, who live in the Sunnyside District.

The learning center helps special needs students as well as those in general education.

heartfelt comments from community members, staff and parents persuaded the school board to reconsider budget cuts to Ocotillo.

A couple of dads were especially emotional.

"I am really concerned that they're taking services away from families and from the kids. This is about the kids," said a man.

Another said, "the proposed budget cuts are not the right thing. They're just numbers to you guys. Seventy five kids, $300 thousand, eight teachers. But they're names to us."

In the end Ocotillo was spared, but the board still has to come up with the money somewhere. They're now headed back to the drawing board.

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