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Utica voters approve next year's school budget

By ANDREW DONOVAN

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica voters went to the polls Tuesday and approved the school district's budget for the 2011-2012 school year.

1,555 people approved the budget while 827 people did not. The spending plan included a 1.98% tax levy increase for residents.

Officials are pleased that the budget passed, but shared concerned of this year's low voter turnout. Only 2,353 total voters turned out for Tuesday's vote.

44 total jobs will be eliminated as part of the plan, some as layoffs, others as openings not being filled. Other program cuts include night school, magnet program, hockey, modified sports at JFK and Donovan, ninth grade baseball, ninth grade boys and girls basketball, indoor track and fall cheerleading."

Regarding the cuts, School Board President Chris Salatino said, "Now we are looking at concessions from the teachers to plug that final gap in the budget. Now if the UAA and the administrators' union has already authorized concessions, we are waiting on the Utica Teachers Association to do the same. If they do that there will be no layoffs, if we don't receive a concession from the UTA than we are looking at 44 layoffs.

One board of education seat was up for grabs. Voters reelected Margaret Buckley 1,584 votes to opponent Ralph Desantis' 791 votes.

Buckley said, "I'm looking forward to five more years. I have a wonderful Board to work with. Chris Salatino is a wonderful board president as Barbara Klein was. We all just work so well together. We are like a fine tuned machine. We don't always agree but we do perhaps agree to disagree but we always come to a conclusion that we think is going to be the best interest of children, staff and the community."

Also passed Tuesday was a proposition to sell the old Wetmore Elementary School building.

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