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2% school tax increase in Utica comes at cost of 217 jobs, numerous programs
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica City School District has a balanced budget, but it's the students who are going to have to pay for it. The currency - the quality of their education.
The school board Tuesday night voted to approve the elimination of 217 positions, including 144 teachers, 7 administrators, 36 teacher assistants and 30 positions in clerical, secretarial/trades/custodial.
The cuts mean 24 sports teams will be eliminated, including boys and girls varsity swimming, boys and girls varsity golf and boys and girls varsity tennis. In addition, kindergarten will be reduced to half day. Class sizes are expected to grow to 30-33 students at the secondary level; high 20s at the elementary level.
'My little guy over here, he's in kindergarten and he misses out on the one to one type of teaching that was when I went to school,' says Sue Minio, who has three grandchildren in Utica schools.
"The larger class sizes, the elimination of full day kindergarten, the reduction in the sports program. I mean all of these things are awful. It's awful and it couldn't be a worse time right now for this to be happening," says Superintendent Bruce Karam.
Parents have left several dozen comments on the Newschannel 2 Facebook page, bemoaning the cuts and expressing concern for the quality of their children's education.
"I think that we're lacking a lot in our education and then you take away the full day kindergarten take away all the extra classes that are necessary for our kids, what are we giving our children?" asked Beth McConeghy as she picked up her two children from Jefferson School in Utica.
Superintendent Karam points out that there are some circumstances under which up to half the 217 jobs could be saved.
An agreement with the principals' and teachers' unions regarding evaluations could bring roughly $2.8 million to the district; a wage freeze agreement with the teacher's union could mean more revenue and $1 million could be Utica-bound from the state if the state budget passes. Karam says if all of these things happen, roughly 100 jobs could be saved.
A list provided by the Utica Superintendent's Office of athletic sports eliminated and retained can be found below:
ATHLETIC SPORTS - ELIMINATED
Football - 1 modified
Boys Soccer - 1 modified
Girls Soccer - 1 modified
Boys Cross Country - 1 modified
Girls Cross Country - 1 modified
Boys Basketball - 1 modified
Girls Basketball - 1 modified
Girls Volleyball - 1 modified
Boys Basketball - 1 modified
Girls Softball - 1 modified
Boys Track - 1 modified
Girls Track - 1 modified
Boys Swimming - varsity and 1 modified
Girls Swimming - varsity and 1 modified
Boys Tennis - 1 varsity
Girls Tennis - 1 varsity
Boys Golf - 1 varsity
Girls Golf - 1 varsity
Girls Gymnastics - 1 varsity
Mixed Cheerleading - 1 varisty
Boys Lacrosse - 1 varsity, 1 modified
Total Teams Gone: 24
ATHLETIC SPORTS - RETAINED
Football - varsity, JV, 1 modified
Boys Soccer - varsity, JV, 1 modified
Girls Soccer - varsity, JV, 1 modified
Boys Cross Country - varsity, 1 modified
Girls Cross Country - varsity, 1 modified
Boys Varsity Basketball - varsity, JV, 1 modified
Boys Bowling - varsity
Girls Bowling - varsity
Boys Baseball - varsity, JV, 1 modified
Girls Softball - varsity, JV, 1 modified
Boys Track - varsity, 1 modified
Girls Track - varsity, 1 modified
Girls Volleyball - varsity, JV, 1 modified