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No progress in negotiations to help Utica Schools

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Weeks after the Utica School Board presented the 2012-2013 budget, there is still no progress in negotiations that would bring additional money to the district to save about 150 teaching postions.

Many students and parents came to Tuesday's Utica School Board public hearing expressing their opinions on the proposed cuts to athletics and teachers to make up for about a $10 million defecit, all wanting to keep their education and activities the way they were.

Utica Schools Superintendent Bruce Karam explained that to save the many jobs, the district needs to either get more state aid, the Utica's Teachers Association and Utica's Administrators Association need to agree to wage freezes, and/or the Teachers' and Principals' Unions need to comply with Governor Cuomo's evaluation requirements that would bring $2.8 million back to the district.

While negotiations are ongoing, Karam says they need to happen relatively soon because the district needs to start organizing classes for September.

"We would be remiss to keep that 2.8 million in there," says Utica Schools Superintendent Bruce Karam. "Set up these classes and then if we can't reach an agreement on the teacher administration evaluations we'd have to pay the state back the $2.8 million and then disassemble all those classes and then absorb the kids into other classes. It would be very disruptive."

Karam says whether the school district gets additional money from the evaluation agreements, concessions by teachers, or additional state aid, it needs to happen within the next two months, as the board needs to approve the class organization in April.

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