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Utica City School District misses out on 2.4M in grants

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Two grants totaling $2.4 million are now one big missed opportunity for the financially strapped Utica City School District.

After 85 layoffs last year, the schools needed more hires. But instead, they'll be facing more cuts.

"We don't get our fair share of state aid. We do rely heavily on grants to help us," said Carla Percia, Director of Grants, Contracts and Compliance for the Utica City School District.

The grants would have gone towards hiring 15 instructional coaches- people that help teachers better implement the new Common Core Curriculum. Current teachers would apply for those positions and in turn, their vacancies would be filled by teachers laid off in past years. But, the president of the Utica Teacher's Association, Cheri Grant, didn't sign off on the grant applications.

"She felt the proposal had a disregard for seniority and these two are kind of connected and that teachers would be involuntarily transferred into the positions and that is not the case," said Percia.

The grant would've also funded the continuation of six part time instructors who will now be let go at the end of the year. Also missed- the professional development of 26 teachers, which is crucial in a district where 10 of 13 schools are considered low performance.

"It's really sad because again, the bottom line is the kids and ultimately it benefits the kids because if you provide the professional development to teachers, it always trickles down to the kids," said Percia.

Another concern- that grant funding would run out after a year, leading to the termination of the new jobs. But Percia said one year is better than none.

"Lots of stuff can happen in that year time and if it were me that were laid off, I would very much embrace the opportunity to work an additional year," she said.

The president of the Teacher's Association took over in July. Percia said in the past, the association has always signed off on applications. The president, Cheri Grant, has not responded to calls at this time.

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