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Utica school district looking at large deficit next year

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Utica school district looking at large deficit next year
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School districts are looking at their budgets for next year. Many are preparing to see a large deficit and in Utica, a new charter school is digging a deeper financial hole for the city school district. Our Cara Thomas has more.

UTICA, N.Y. -- Not only is the Utica City School District struggling to pay their own expenses, but now the district will also pay the tuition costs for any students from Utica who will be attending the new Utica Academy of Science charter school. And that adds up to more than $9,000 per student per year.

Public schools are required by state law to pay tuition for any charter school student who lives in their district. Not only will the Utica school district be paying tuition for hundreds of students each year, they'll also be paying for additional transportation and assisting with special education costs.

Over a five year period, the district will be paying more than $13.5 million to the Utica Academy of Science. And the only financial assistance they can get is three years of transitional aid.

"It is a scary factor that we face every while we're doing the budget, this year even. But then five years down the road, it grows substantially, so we could be looking at $8 million off of our state aid to pay for the charter schools," said Maureen Albanese, Utica School Business Official.

School officials say after adding these extra expenses to their budget, cuts will have to be made. They say it may come to closing two elementary schools and cutting more than 80 teaching positions. And the school district says with this charter school, they have no choice.

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