SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A community meeting held in Springfield to discuss the impact of inadequate funding for schools is just one of 40 to take place across the state.

Dozens of people including parents, students, and teachers, packed the Forest Park Middle School auditorium in Springfield Thursday night.

Educators want parents to be aware of the budegetary challenges the city is facing, while also discussing what ways the state can better help the city’s students.

"Our kids deserve the best, and that's what we'd like to see them get, is the best," said Cathy Mastronardi, President of the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals.

Organizers of Thursday night's forum said that Springfield schools are underfunded by $94 million.

Sasha Jimenez is a parent and education justice organizer. She said she knows a Pre-K teacher who in a two-month period spent $500 for her classroom.

"I was flabbergasted because she has a mortgage to pay, she has car payments and extracurricular activities and uniforms," said Jimenez.

That's why they're asking the state legislature to pass two pieces of legislation.

The Education Promise and the Cherish Act would increase state funding for public education by more than $1.5 billion a year.

"This money is simply going to fund what they should already be funding. So now this would be full funding our schools. Right now we're underfunding our schools by $94 million," said Maureen Colgan-Poser, President of the Springfield Education Association.

Educators said they are focused on K-12 students, but also those pursuing higher education because they recognize that many of their students are unable to afford it.

By continuing community dialogue on the issue, educators hope it'll push legislators to take action.

"Please do what is right for our kids. We are in a crisis right now in our public schools. We cannot withstand this underfunding any longer and we cannot wait, it has to happen now," said Colgan-Posner.

"You can find money for all kinds of things you have to find money for our kids. They are our future, we need to support them," said Mastronardi.

Fund Our Future campaign organizers told Western Mass News that they will be hosting a similar meeting in Chicopee next month.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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