Utica City School District Wins Big Case Against the State

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Utica, N.Y.— Utica City School District is celebrating a big legal victory after the New York State Appellate Court ruled in favor of the district last week.

“You know obviously we’re very happy and very pleased with the ruling,” Bruce Karam Superintendent of Utica City School District said. “Because the funding that is involved here is what’s been lacking in our district for many many years.”

The district was joined by 7 other small cities in their case against the state for tens of millions of dollars owed to them from the state through foundation aid. Each of these districts has a high percentage of at-risk students. The appellate court found that these 8 districts lacked a combined total of $1.1 billion in funding. Without these funds, these districts were forced to cut programs, staff and essential services. 

“When we had an analysis done by the state aid planning office they were estimating that we were being short anywhere between 30-40 million a year in state aid,” Karam said.

Utica City School District specifically lacked the benefit of over $290 million, because of this lack of funding the district was forced to cut 170 professional staff between the academic years of 2010-2011 and 2013-2014, even though during these years the district saw an increase in student enrollment.

“It’s going to allow us now to purchase more of the kinds of things we need,” Karam said. “Instructional things for the students to continue our mission of reducing class sizes by hiring more teachers. It just puts us on solid footing moving into the future.”

Last week’s ruling reversed a 2019 decision by the New York State Supreme Court that ruled in favor of the state, the appellate courts ruling means the case will be sent back to the supreme court for resolution. 

“With the decision coming from the appellate court the attorneys tell me we have to wait and see what the remedies going to be from the state,” Karam explained.

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