Utica, N.Y. (June 26, 2019) — Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon (D-Utica) announced Tuesday that Utica City School District will not receive any of the more than $400,000 in discretionary state education funding that is being directed to schools within the 119th Assembly District this week.
Utica, one of the neediest school districts in New York State, is presently owed $46 million in operating aid from New York State. Eighty-five percent of Utica students are economically disadvantaged and 18 percent are English language learners. In recent years the district has been forced to make cuts in teaching staff and after school programs, and lacks the resources to provide sufficient opportunities for English language learners due to underfunding.
The discretionary funding, called bullet aid, is allocated post-budget to districts that need it based on the priorities of the local legislator. Assemblymember Buttenschon failed to prioritize Utica even though it is the neediest school district she represents and despite her assertion in a press conference Tuesday that she “fought hard” to secure the additional discretionary funding.
“It’s really upsetting that Marianne Buttenschon would shortchange Utica schools in her distribution of discretionary funds. We’ve met with her several times asking for her help to secure necessary funding for our schools, and instead she turned her back on us,” said Felicia Graves, a Utica parent and leader with Citizen Action of New York.
“It’s hard to believe she wouldn’t see fit to give some of the money to Utica schools. We’ve lost so many teachers and we have a desperate need for more after school programs to engage area youth. There’s nothing for kids to do here and it’s a real problem. This funding could have helped,” said Tracy Latty, a Utica parent and leader with Citizen Action of New York.
“This feels like a direct slap in the face to voters in Utica who are counting on the Assemblywoman to bring home funding for all schools in the district. For her to play political favorites only hurts our kids. They deserve better, and frankly so do we,” said Shakia Walton, a Utica parent and leader with Citizen Action of New York.