State Aid an Isssue for Utica Schools

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When reviewing the budget proposed by the Utica City School District, Superintendent Bruce Karam says the State Aid funding is far too low. 
The BOCES State Aid Office ran an independent study that found that the District has been shorted almost $270 million dollars in aid over the past five years. 

Karam says, “So that has a huge impact on our budget. Over the last five years, we’ve laid off over 350 employees. Many of them and most of them teachers. Which has increased our class sizes.”

But what else is comes out of the budget? The answer is charter school funding, which includes costs for tuition and transportation. That number has gone from $4 to $7 million due to increased enrollment. And under State Law it comes directly out of the District’s pocket.

Karam adds, “By the end of next year we will have paid almost 12 million dollars to charter schools over a 4 year period. We can’t sustain that too. If we’re not even receiving our fair share on one end, we’re paying out these huge numbers on the other. Now i don’t have a problem with charter schools, you know choice is fine. Just fund them separately. Fund them under another line item.” 

And looking ahead he will lobby for additional funding in Albany, but says the state aid formula needs to be revised.

“Every year becomes more and more difficult. And i’m really hoping, and i’m very optimistic that in the near future this will be corrected by the state for the benefit of the students in the district.” 

The District is still awaiting a judgment from the state for the Small Cities School District Lawsuit.
The State Supreme Court ruled last year that Utica was shorted $290 million in Foundation Aid since 2008. 
And the Attorney for the district told me earlier today, that the final brief for the appeal process is due next Tuesday.

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