The Utica City School District held a public information meeting Tuesday night to hear concerns over its proposed budget for next year. Without making drastic cuts, the district foresees a $10 million deficit. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us how the district is facing the grim numbers.
UTICA, N.Y. -- The Utica City School District is expecting some tough financial decisions next year, and nobody is pleased with the reality.
School Board President Christopher Salatino said, "Right now we're looking at 150 job layoffs, and that includes mostly teachers and administrators."
The public doesn't like it either.
"The only thing I can see with these drastic cuts is the fact that our school system and our community is going to start taking a downward spiral that's never going to recover," Albert Santacroc said during a public hearing on the matter.
The cuts are in response to a $10 million deficit the district must account for in next year's budget.
The budget must be approved in April, and school board officials are looking to Albany to help out.
Salatino explained that a large part of the deficit is due to unfunded mandates. He's reached out to Albany for mandate relief funds.
One of the more recent mandates from Governor Cuomo's office is a new teacher evaluations program.
If the Utica teachers union does not approve the evaluations, Utica would lose out on nearly $3 million from the state.
The Utica Teacher's Association is expected to approve Governor Cuomo's Teacher evaluation measures, but there are a number of other financial situations facing the district as well.
One of them is how the district collects its tax money. There is little regulation on when and how the city pays out those funds to the district, and this year, the city spent millions of dollars it owed to the district.
UCSD School Business official Maureen Albanese was one of the first to find out about it, "Someone from my office called, the treasurer called, and he asked for some of the money to be sent over and that's when they said to her that they owed us $10 million."
The city has paid $7 million back, but district officials want to regulate those funds in the future.
The board has appealed to the state for mandate relief funds, but it appears they will be forced to deal with significant cuts for next year.
They have also proposed a two-percent tax hike to help recoup some of the deficit.