Updated 06/26/2012 06:42 PM
Utica Superintendent: Cuts could continue without state reform
As the Utica City School District ends months of negotiations with the Utica Teachers Association, they are putting the cap on a season of hard budget cuts. Our Andrew Sorensen caught up with the district's superintendent, who says they could be facing these same issues again as soon as next year.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- Staring down the barrel of a $10 million budget deficit, the Utica City School District had to make hard decisions this budget season.
District Superintendent Bruce Karam says the brunt of the cuts were spared with an agreement from the Utica Teachers Association.
"The full day kindergarten, that's coming back and the full sports program. So those are two huge programs we're very happy with bringing back," he said.
They also saved 60 teaching positions and over $6 million for building projects, but they had to leave a lot on the table.
"We still ended up with $6.2 million in cuts. And those cuts translated to roughly, I think it was 157 positions," he said.
The district believes this problem could become systematic if the state doesn't take a hard look at its funding formulas in the next couple of years.
"This is what you will see until we bring the workforce down to a lower level where we can sustain it with the revenues that we have," Karam explained. "But the cost of that is one of higher class sizes and less programs."
Karam said their current levels aren't sustainable, but he hopes to curb more cuts by being proactive before state aid is announced early next year.
"I'm starting the budget in July and beginning the budget process so that I will know way in advance where we stand."
They won't have any concrete figures on future cuts for a couple of months, but the district says without serious reform for increased aid, more staff will return to the chopping block.
If the Utica City School District's fortunes do turn around soon, there is a provision in union contracts that allows laid off teachers to have first pick of new jobs for seven years after they were let go.