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New York schools facing millions in cuts with fiscal cliff

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

(WKTV) - If no agreement is reached with the approaching fiscal cliff, New York State is looking to lose about $164 million in federal funding for the 2013 -14 school year. Utica City Schools say this will bring an almost $1 million cut to their budget, Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Superintendent says their schools will collectively face similar cuts.

Utica City Schools Business Official, Maureen Albanese says she is now figuring out two preliminary plans for Utica's 2013-14 school year. One if Congress reaches an agreement and we don't go over the fiscal cliff, and one if they don't. She says if no agreement is reached and we go over the fiscal cliff the Utica School District will be forced to lay teachers off.

"You'll have layoffs, that's basically what it amounts to because most of these grants we have teachers and related staff and if there's no money our general fund cannot absorb all that," said Albanese.

If the approximately $924,000 cut is needed to be made to Utica Schools, Albanese says the Utica School District is looking at roughly 18 to 20 teachers that will need to be laid off. This comes after about 80 teachers were already cut in balancing their budget this past year.

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Superintendent Mark Vivacqua says similar layoffs would have happen in his schools. Why? Because schools will still have to keep state mandated programs, many schools which have little else left.

"Most of the schools around here are down to just mandated programs and when we talk about things that aren't mandated like athletics, extracurricular activities and what not those don't really add up to a significant amount of money," said Vivacqua. "Even if you cut all of those things it doesn't get you to where you need to be."

Both Utica City Schools and the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES District are hopeful Congress will reach an agreement so this doesn't affect students.

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