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Assemblyman Brindisi: New York State Still Not Doing Enough For Utica, High Poverty Schools

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

The Utica City School District is receiving an additional $210,000, meaning three teaching positions that were set to be cut, will now be kept.

However, those are just three of the four dozens teaches the district had to cut in its latest budget.

Assemblyman Anthony Brinidisi, a past Utica school board member himself, says it’s not nearly enough is proposing a change to the school aid formula.

”Utica received a 4.6 million increase over last year, but they’re facing a large deficit and they have virtually no fund balance. The superintendent assured me this money would be used to keep a few more teachers in the classroom.”

”You have 30 kids in a class, it can’t be sustained. You have many students as well who are ESL (English Second Language),” Brindisi said. ”It’s frusterating, you have so many competiting interests. Often, it gets boiled down to an upstate vs downstate issue. That’s not really what it is. You have poor districts and wealthier districts. Even in the wealthier districts, they’re frustrated right now.”

”In Utica, [they] get about $10,000 in state assistance per student,” but wealthier districts who get less aid per student are no longer allowed to raise taxes to make up the difference, because of the 2% tax cap.

”Something has to be done, this is the foundation of our state. People decide where they want to live – if they have a family – based on the school system,” Brindisi said.

The Utica Democrat said he’s introdcued a bill to change the forumla to allow districts like Utica to get more money, basing the assistance more on the need of a district.

”But the whole system needs to be overhauled, they way we’re doing it right now, it’s not working. We’re not training students to meet job demands. Smaller manufacturers in the Mohawk Valley tell me they are hiring, and will pay good wages – $50,000 and they will train – but they need someone with basic career and technical skills to meet these demands. We push students today to go to college -  ‘You have to go to college’ -  students are coming out of college with enormous debt and no jobs.”

Brinidisi says the lack of proper training for the existing jobs will hurt New York in the long run.

Full interview from WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning:

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