Deeper cuts for Utica Schools if sequester goes into effect
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica School District is facing another 88 staff cuts for next year, even more if the looming sequester happens. The potential cuts were a topic at the school board meeting Tuesday night, School Board President Chris Salatino saying, "Grim news again." The Utica School District is already facing another tough budget for 2013-14. Now an additional $650,000 to $750,000 is estimated to be lost if the sequestration takes effect. Beginning Friday without a Presidential - Congressional agreement, $85 billion in cuts will happen over the next 7 months. New York Schools are set to lose between $80 and $102.2 million in federal aid. Utica Schools specifically are estimated to lose between $650,000 to $750,000 in cuts to their Title 1 and IDEA special education grants. This will bring an additional 12-15 teacher cuts on top of the 54 teachers set to be let go with next year's proposed budget. With almost 2,000 special education students in the district, Superintendent Karam says the federal aid is vital to the district and they will have to cut other areas to account for the loss in grant funding. "We can't operate without them," said Utica City Schools Superintendent Bruce Karam. "And if they're cut, then we need to go in and cut other non-mandated positions, and then pay for the mandated ones through out general fund which is going to further drain our resources in order to balance our budget." Karam says this is going to put the district in an even worse financial situation than they're already in. The school district is already under funded in state aid and loosing money from a new charter school next year. "It couldn't come at a worse time, it's horrible," said Karam. He says the staff cuts will impact students, bringing larger classrooms and thus adverse effects to teaching students. An informal public hearing on Utica School District's 2013-14 budget will be held March 5 at 5 pm. at the Board of Education on the Parkway in Utica.