Utica City School District Reacts to Charter Schools Plan to Move to Frankfort

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UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — The Utica Academy of Science Charter School is planning on moving completely to its Frankfort location by the new school year and Utica City board members are worried about the financial impacts this may have on the district.

At the April 27 board of education meeting, the charter schools superintendent, Tolga Hayali was given three minutes to explain to the board the reasons for the changing location and his belief that it will save the school money. Board member Joseph Hobika Jr. did little to hide his frustrations and moved for a special meeting to allow Hayali to come in person and discuss the charter schools move.

“This is a big hit on our budget,” Hobika Jr. explained. “And i’ve made no bones about it and I’m not happy about the fact that the Utica charter school is located in another county, so I’d like to find out what efforts they’ve taken to not find a place in Utica and ending up in Frankfort.”

Steven Falchi, Utica City School District Administrative Director of Curriculum and Instruction for grades K-12 further explained in an email statement, “We are continuing to employ the same number of teachers, related service providers, and other staff who are still needed at our schools so there is no savings to the district even though students have left to attend the Charter School. Another example is the additional transportation costs that the district may incur by virtue of the charter school moving out of Oneida county. With the sole charter school operation in Frankfort, all students now qualify for bussing, whereas in Utica, elementary students who live within a mile of their school, and secondary students within a mile and a half of their school do not take the bus. Furthermore, it does not make sense for children who live in the city of Utica to attend a charter school in another county which bears the name of Utica.”

Charter schools are public schools but they are independent from school districts, they work with the state and the board of regents to establish their curriculums and unlike other public schools, their funding comes directly from the state. The state provides a certain amount to the charter school per pupil, and a certain amount goes to the school district that the charter school has its charter with to provide transportation and other resources like nurses.

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