Concern is once again rising in the cash-strapped Utica City School District as the state mulls over the possibility of allowing another charter school to open.
A group led by Christina Johnson, an educator and local resident, applied to the SUNY Charter Schools Institute earlier this year to establish the Mohawk Valley Community Charter School within the Utica School District to serve elementary-aged children.
For the fourth straight year, the Utica City School District is facing a deficit, causing the school board to consider layoffs. School Business Official Maureen Albanese says right now the district, which is among the state's poorest, is having trouble balancing its nearly $146 million budget.
"We had a $3.8 million deficit in the general fund, and we're looking at a $2.6 [million] deficit in our federal grants, which brought our total budget deficit to $6.4 million," Albanese said.
The state Senate and Assembly are scheduled to begin conference committee meetings on Monday, now that both houses have finished with their resolutions laying out their positions.
Sticking points include funding for charter schools. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans want to restore changes made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to three charter schools. The mayor says the schools can no longer have rent-free space in existing public school buildings.