Updated 06/14/2012 06:19 AM
Utica Teachers Association deal saves 60 jobs, kindergarten, sports
Just in time for their end of the school year deadline, the Utica Teachers Association and the Utica City School District have reached a tentative agreement on their contract. Our Andrew Sorensen reports on the jobs and programs the deal could save if union members pass it, and what's next for the district if they don't.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- If the Utica City School District and the Utica Teachers Association didn't agree to new contract terms by next week, they were looking at cutting 217 jobs, full day kindergarten, and half of their sports programs.
Tuesday was to be their final make-or-break meeting.
"We wanted to come back to the teachers before the school year ended, could let them know over the summer where they were, what's happening, how many teachers are coming back," Utica Teachers Association President Larry Custodero said Wednesday.
There were a lot of tough issues to swallow for teachers, like accepting a wage freeze and the new teacher evaluations, or APPR.
The union has been pushing hard for an agreement the membership could approve. They believe the deal they will be voting on next Wednesday is more palatable this time around.
"The 60 teachers, to keep class sizes low, a full day kindergarten program would be restored and also a full and complete sports program," UCSD Superintendent Bruce Karam outlined.
The district is also pushing for the agreement to pass, with $3.8 million of education aid and $6.7 million of building aid on the line. Ratification of the teacher evaluations clears all of that money to help cover a $10 million deficit.
And although the district will be safe with ratification for now, this perfect storm of funding and contracts could come up again when the deal expires in three years.
"We really got hit hard because we are underfunded, and this goes back to a funding formula that really needs to be fixed," Karam said.
But they are not out of the woods now, either.
"If it doesn't pass...we'll negotiate through the summer and have something to present back to the teachers when school starts," Custodero said.
But by then, the district says it would be too late for the any of the programs or jobs to be restored for the school year.
More details of the contract will become available after next Wednesday's vote. The deal would then have to be approved by Utica's school board on the 26th.