Utica School Board approves budget that cuts 217 jobs, raising taxes 2%


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica School Board approved its 2012-2013 budget Tuesday night. The budget would increase taxes by only 2%, but comes at a cost of more than 200 jobs.

School officials said the cuts need to be made to make up for about a $10 million deficit. They include a loss of 144.4 teachers, 7 administrators, 36 teacher assistants and 30 clerical and secretarial/trades/custodial positions.

The budget also calls for the elimination and reduction of many school programs.

The Alternative Education Transition Program will be eliminated, a $150,000 contribution to the Young Scholars program will be eliminated and partial athletic/sports programs will significantly be reduced.

The budget also calls for reducing full day kindergarten to half day, a change that brought many residents to express their concerns about to the board Tuesday night.

Utica Superintendent Bruce Karam says he was left with no choice but to make drastic cuts because the state has under funded Utica Schools for years, despite its growing enrollment, and because the schools have no reserve funds as well as no additional state funding.

The school board was able to restore six positions because of retirements.

Superintendent Karam says the school board will be continuing negotiations with the Teacher and Principal Unions on evaluation agreements and wage concessions and he is hopeful there will be progress to secure some of the jobs.

The Utica School Board will meet again mid April to make any revisions to the budget. Karam says the budget will then go to a public hearing and finally a public vote on May 15th.

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