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Utica City School District proposes cutting 88 jobs

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Utica City School District proposes cutting 88 jobs
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The Utica City Schools Superintendent announced an additional 88 job cuts with his budget presentation Tuesday. That would bring the total jobs lost in the district to nearly 240 in the past two years. YNN's Andrew Sorensen tells us more about the district's continued efforts to remedy their financial problems.

UTICA, N.Y. -- Utica's proposed new budget is the second tough budget in as many years.

"I'm devastated. I guess that's the best way I can put it," Utica City School District Superintendent Bruce Karam said.

Karam could only describe the budget he proposed to the board of education Tuesday with one word: Painful.

"So a lot of time and effort went into this, but am I happy with it? No," Karam said.

He doesn't have a lot to be happy about with a $5.5 million deficit.

"We cut 150 positions last year. We're looking at an estimated 88 positions cut this year," he said.

Including 54 teachers on top of last year's 84.

"It's going to hurt our educational programming," Karam said. "It's going to definitely hinder instruction. You're going to look at larger class sizes."

As high as 34 at one elementary school.

On the positive side, they were able to keep it to a two percent tax increase, but it could have been better without their unexpected expenses.

"Which is the charter school. It's going to be $1.7 million that now we have to come up and fund," Board of Education President Christopher Salatino said.

Salatino said there is a remedy.

"If the state education department or the governor would just provide us with the funding that, according to their own formulas, would give us significant additional funding, we would be fine," he said.

There is another small silver lining in this budget and that's that, unlike last year, there aren't significant program cuts, but that win may only be temporary.

When asked if he saw cuts to programs or teachers next year, Karam said, "I hate to speculate because it's so far off. But there's a likelihood."

The board says they'll try to find savings to save teachers in between now and the public vote in May, but that doesn't seem likely.

Utica's superintendent says they are in talks with the state to fix their funding issues. They're also waiting for the outcome of a lawsuit between small city school districts and New York State.

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