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Utica School class sizes likely to go amid budget woes

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica School District is looking at 88 layoffs in order to fill a $5.6 million budget gap. The job cuts are proposed in Superintendent Bruce Karam's 2013-2014 budget plan.

The vast majority, 54 of the 88 jobs, are teachers. That would mean larger class sizes-as many as 34 kids per classroom at the elementary school level. Not the ideal climate for learning.

"Small class sizes, more one on one help with kids that may have a problem with a concept or whatever, they benefit more, they remember more and they get more out of it as a result of a small group situation. Less distractions," says Karam.

Further draining money from an already financially strapped district: a new charter school, which organizers hope to have up and running in the fall.

"In simplistic terms, very simplistic terms, charter schools are private schools with public funds. That's exactly what it is. And it couldn't have come at a worse time," says Karam.

Karam did request more state aid for the underfunded district. For every $1 million they receive, he says they'd be able to restore 12-15 teacher positions, but there are no guarantees any more state aid would be forthcoming.

The public can be heard on the budget at a March 5 public hearing.

The school board is expected to act on the budget at their March 26 meeting.

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