The Utica School Board President says he feels obligated to run for re-election in the upcoming board election in May because he has to finish what he started.

Joseph H. Hobika Jr. is referencing his work over the last few years with the majority on the board of education to "clean up the district" and continue their "quest to be an exemplary high performing school district." He said, "we should accept nothing less.”

“I decided I was going to run again when we discovered several “no -show” jobs and blatant abuses of overtime, along with inappropriate purchasing practices and a lack of inventory control that completely left us in jeopardy,” Hobika said. “This was when I realized I had no choice but to run for re-election.”

Hobika, whose father was on the Utica School Board for 25 years and also served as board president, made it clear that "if you're for no-show jobs, abuse of overtime, wasting money and electing board members so they can get their family and friends hired by the district, I'm clearly not your guy,"

Hobika made no reference to Superintendent of Schools Bruce Karam during his radio interview, nor did he mention him in his press release. Karam is currently on paid administrative leave while an independent investigator looks into his conduct following complaints made by fellow administrators and employees at the district.

During an interview with Oneida County Executive Scott McNamara last week, the DA said he couldn't talk about Karam when asked if there was an ongoing district attorney investigation into the Superintendent. Currently, Brian Nolan of Syracuse is serving as Utica's acting Superintendent of Schools.

Danielle Padula and Joe Hobika (right to left). Photo screenshot Utica School District live feed
Danielle Padula and Joe Hobika (right to left). Photo screenshot Utica School District live feed

Hobika said, in addition to cleaning up the past, he’s also very proud of what’s been accomplished in move the district forward during a short period of time. “While president, we’ve worked together as a board to assist the administration in creating sweeping change that will make a positive difference for our students. We’re creating a better work environment for faculty and staff to improve communication with our students and their parents. We’ve re-established college partnerships for our students, as well as the development of strategic planning for career and tech education (CTE) with a regional high school. We’ve worked to solve contract disputes with teachers, service employees and administrators. We’ve placed a priority on early childhood education and established partnerships with Safe Schools, Ican, Hillside Work Scholarship Connection, OnPoint for College and others. We’ve added social workers, reading teachers, mental health professionals, and are currently restructuring the Special Education Department with a qualified department-head to oversee the process. We’re also working to improve communication with parents to better include them in their child’s educational experience," he said.

“This is all just the beginning for the Utica School District. I’m asking for the people’s vote on election day and in return I promise to leave them with a clean, well operating school district that will be efficient and will appropriately benefit our children for years to come,” said Hobika. “We owe the taxpayers of Utica nothing less.” 

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The annual budget vote and school board election will be held on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. 

Click here to read things Hobika says the board has accomplished since he's been president of the Utica School Board of Education.

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