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Teacher Negotiations looming 2 weeks before School Budget vote

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Just two weeks before taxpayers will vote on the Utica School Board's budget, the teachers union is set to meet with the Utica School Board to possibly renegotiate contracts. While the proposed budget keeps taxes within the 2% property tax cap, it would reduce programs and athletics and cut over 200 jobs from Utica City Schools.

Utica School Board President Christopher Salatino says the school board is set to meet with the teachers union's negotiation team on Thursday.
There they will discuss whether or not the teachers union will agree to Governor Cuomo's APPR teacher evaluation requirements and a wage freeze, what Salatino says could restore 70- 80 of the over 200 proposed job cuts and possibly bring the proposed half-day kindergarten back to full day.

The School Board President says the teachers union agreeing to both plans would not only save jobs, but prevent even more cuts.

"If the evaluations don't come through remember we also have the $6 million in bonding that has to be paid back that the Governor is holding onto in capital project money so ultimately its $3.8 million and I believe $6 million in capital funding," says Salatino. "It's still going to lay off, it would be an additional 100 jobs."

Salatino says Governor Cuomo's promised funding with the teacher evaluation agreement puts the district in a difficult position.

"We have no where to go we have to rely on the teachers to move forward and actually adopt something that maybe they aren't as comfortable with," says Salatino.

The public will vote on the Utica School budget on May 15th. Polls are open from noon to 9 pm.

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