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Public hearing for proposed charter school is silent

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- A public hearing to discuss the possibility of a second charter school in Utica didn't draw people from either side of the fence Tuesday night.

The proposal has raised some controversy in the financially strained school district, yet no one attended.

By law, a school district has to hold a public hearing 30 days after a charter school application is filed with the state for review. The state has to then notify the applicant, in this case, The Mohawk Valley Community Charter School. But, no one showed up to represent them either.

Teachers who wouldn't speak on camera say perhaps people feel they can make their voices better heard outside of a public hearing. Right now there's a petition against the charter school that has received 1,158 signatures as of Tuesday.

The public hearing would have taken place during the board of education meeting which focused on the 2014-2015 district budget and that's exactly why Utica Superintendent Bruce Karam is opposed to the charter school: money.

Utica is the fifth poorest school district in the state and Karam says the new charter school, the Academy of Science, that just opened this past school year is further straining their resources. Next year a projected $2.5 million of the district's state aid will go toward the existing charter school.

"So that's $2.5 million less we have to fund our programs, our educational programs here. So, it has definitely had an effect, a very bad effect at a time when we can't afford to have this syphoning of state aid and it's going to only get worse and I can't even tell you- with a second one on the horizon it's definitely going to hurt our district," said Karam.

The lead applicant for the Mohawk Valley Community Charter school said Friday they're waiting to make any comments until after a decision has been made on their application. They're hope to open the school in the fall of 2015.

There will be more opportunities for the public to make comments. Check back with WKTV for those dates.

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