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Superintendent: Extra aid only thousands, not millions

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Superintendent: Extra aid only thousands, not millions
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Utica's budget situation may be on better footing with extra aid. But as YNN's Andrew Sorensen tells us, while the extra money certainly won't hurt, the dollars may not stretch as far as the district needs them to.

UTICA, N.Y. -- The Utica City School District passed their second grueling budget in two years Tuesday night.

"Well, we're losing approximately 99 positions, 64 of which are teachers," Superintendent Bruce Karam said.

They were looking at a deficit of more than $5 million. Karam said the problem isn't just a one-off thing.

"I'm not pleased with it, but we're just so underfunded in state aid that we cannot sustain the current workforce," he said.

The cuts are predicted to push class sizes to more than 30 kids in some classrooms. There is some good news: It came out during the same meeting the district would get an extra $4.5 million of state aid over last year's funding. But Karam isn't totally pleased.

"We looked at this and it's not $4.5 million, actually $4.2 million of that money was already in our first state aid run," he explained.

In other words, the district's planned cuts already took into account most of that money, the state is really only upping their aid about $300,000. Karam said that could only bring back a couple of jobs.

"Our first restoration will be teaching positions," he said.

But still a lot of people are wondering when it will end.

"We don't need to be spending more on education, but the way that we are dividing up the money needs to be looked at and changed," Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said.

Brindisi co-sponsored a bill that's in the education committee.

"What it would do is take a true snapshot of the needs of the district and then provide a fairer and more equitable funding scenario," he said.

But Brindisi admits the bill might struggle with assembly members representing areas more favorably funded. Some small city school districts, including Utica, are part of a lawsuit against the supposed inequity.

"The end result would be, hopefully we would get more aid out of this," Brindisi said.

The Utica Teachers Association says they're working with the district to cut costs and keep some younger teachers. But the district says, for now, this is what they're stuck with.

The Utica City School District plans to discuss lowering the number of positions they'll cut at a special meeting on April 2nd.

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