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Utica Teachers Union ratifies contract

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Teacher's Union ratified their contract Thursday night. Voting 543 to 259, the teachers approved the new deal which includes Governor Cuomo's Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) evaluations, bringing $3.8 million to the Utica School District to restore jobs and programs.

Thanks to the agreement, 60 teaching positions will return, full day kindergarten will be restored, and Utica Schools full sports program will remain in the schools.

The agreement also brings $6.7 million dollars in building aid to the district that was also tied to the contract.

Thursday, Utica Schools Superintendent Bruce Karam thanked the school board for their support, the district negotiating team and teachers union for getting the teachers questions answered before the vote, and the teachers.

"You've got to thank the teachers for stepping up the plate because you know in their contract they got three zeros, their wages have no additional money, they got three zeros for three years," said Karam. "So they stepped up to the plate and they helped the district out and the kids when we needed it."

While ratifying the contract does save some jobs and programs from being cut, it still leaves 85 teachers, 10 administrators and over 60 support staff not coming back to the Utica Schools. Superintendent Karam says class sizes will still be larger than in the past.

"We had to make a lot of difficult decisions this year because of the lack of aid that we got from Albany to sustain our operation and it all goes back again to that funding formula," said Karam. "It won't be as severe maybe but we'll still have to look at cutting positions unless something's done with this funding formula."

The Superintendent said he still has to present the ratified contract to Utica's Board of Education on Tuesday for them to officially approve it, they'll then start restoring the 60 teaching positions.

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