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Two sides yet to meet in Utica School District negotiations

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Both sides agree that it is important to resume negotiations after the Utica Teacher's Association on Monday rejected a contract offer from the district. Yet that was five days ago, and the two sides have yet to meet.

The teacher's union negotiating team met among themselves earlier in the week. School Superintendent Bruce Karam on Wednesday spoke with a representative from NYSUT, the NYS United Teachers, which oversees the local union. He followed up with an e-mailed letter on Thursday, but has yet to hear back.

Time is of the essence, as the governor has tied roughly $10 million in state aid to the implementation of teacher evaluations. The evaluations were part of the defeated contract.

The district built $3.8 million in state aid into the budget, operating under the assumption that an agreement will be reached. But Karam says they cannot spend it until or unless an agreement on evaluations is signed.

Another $6.6 million in building aid from the state is intended to pay debt service for district renovations. That money must be paid, so if the state aid isn't forthcoming, the district will have to find it elsewhere, which could threaten additional cuts.

Several calls to Utica Teachers Association President Larry Custodero on Wednesday were not returned.

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