Karam urging registered voters in Utica to get to the polls for Tuesday's school vote

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica Schools Superintendent Bruce Karam says the Utica School Board has been working hard on the 2014-2015 budget since last August and is urging city residents to take their civic responsibility just as seriously, and head to the polls on Tuesday to vote on that very budget.
Karam says this year's proposed budget contains a 1.25% tax hike, and he says the board did everything possible to keep it that low, "People are stretched to the limit, they have to make choices between food, medicine and whatever."
23 teachers will lose their jobs under the proposed budget but Karam says the original budget put forth by the board back in February contained 95 jobs lost.  He says thanks to the district joining the Conference of the Big 5 school districts, the state ultimately awarded Utica an additional $4.5 million, reducing the district's $7 million deficit down to $2.5 million.
Karam says joining that conference gave the district more leverage in Albany and he actually spoke earlier this year in front of state lawmakers and state education officials, telling them Utica is the only growing district in Upstate New York.  Karam says it's due to the city's continually growing immigrant population.
Karam says he hopes the state will catch up to the school districts needs in the coming years if not sooner, "The problem is the Basic Foundation Aid hasn't risen to the level where it should have risen over the years because it was frozen in '08-'09 across the state, when the state was experiencing economic difficulties.  Because of that, the Foundation Aid remained at a certain level, didn't increase, so it didn't really increase with the times, so that's what needs to be changed in order for us to be funded properly."

Polls in Utica are open from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday. 

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