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Utica School District continues looking for ways to make up $10 million deficit

By HILARY LANE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica City School district is struggling to find ways to make up for the $10 million deficit in the 2012-2013 budget.

Bruce Karam, the superintendent of Utica City Schools, said there has not been much progress made as of Tuesday.

The following were proposed at the end of January 2012 to make up for the districts shortfalls:

*Around 150 teaching jobs would be cut.

*226 total jobs would be eliminated.

*Kindergarten would become a half-day program.

*22 sports teams would be cut.

"We are a growing district with enrollment but we are underfunded with state aid," said Karam. "This is our problem. The formula needs to change, it needs to take into account the high poverty and high needs rate."

As of Tuesday, Karam said 25 teachers and four administrators had taken advantage of a retirement incentive from the district that was put forth to offset the lay-off numbers. However, many of the people retiring are in state-mandated positions or in high-need areas, so those jobs will need to be refilled..

In order to save many of the jobs, Karam said the Utica's Teachers Association and Utica's Administrator's Association need to agree to a wage freeze. A contract has not been signed yet.

Also, $2.8 million from Governor Cuomo's office could be infused into the school district if the Teachers' and Principals' unions comply with state evaluation requirements. An agreement has not yet been reached.

Karam says he is hoping some form of agreements are reached very soon.

"We have to organize all of our classrooms in the district right now before September," said Karam. "We need lead time to do all that. We can't do all of this at the last minute and do it efficiently or effective we need to do this."

Karam will be presenting his proposed budget to the Board of Education on March 27.

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