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Utica High School to Build CTE Wing to Retain Students

Voters in Utica, N.Y., will decide whether Thomas R. Proctor High School should add a 28,300-square-foot addition for career and technical education programs to accommodate growing enrollment.

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Utica voters will decide on Dec. 7, 2021 whether the district should put a career-and-technical-education wing on Thomas R. Proctor High School.
Mark DiOrio
(TNS) — Utica’s voters will decide Tuesday, Dec. 7, whether the district should build a career-technical-education wing onto Thomas R. Proctor High School so that many students who now attend the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES in New Hartford can remain at the high school all day.

The nearly $18 million wing will not cause a tax increase; the bulk of the money coming from anticipated state aid of almost $11 million, officials said.

The district has been holding a series of public information sessions in schools around the district so that residents can learn about and ask questions about the plan.

Parent Heather Padulla said that one of her four children, a 2020 graduate, did the cosmetology course at BOCES and, as a result, wasn’t able to take advanced classes and electives at Proctor. Now she’s on a five-year plan to graduate from college because she just wasn’t adequately prepared, Padulla said.

Her daughter also disliked having to choose between missing school activities and missing BOCES classes, she said after attending one of the public information sessions on the project.

County Legislator and former Utica Mayor Tim Julian, called the restoration of CTE to Proctor a great plan. Julian himself did a CTE program while at Utica Free Academy and said the knowledge has helped him throughout his career, he said.

There’s such a big demand for these kinds of workers right now on projects such as the new downtown hospital and the Wolfspeed, formerly known as Cree, semiconductor fab in Marcy, he said. And it’s scary to think, Julian said, of a world in which there’s no one to call when your toilet clogs.

“Not every kid is destined for a college career,” he said.

How do I vote?

Voting will take place between noon and 9 p.m. Dec. 7 at assigned polling places in schools throughout the district.

What is the project?

The project will include the construction of a three-story, 28,300-square-foot addition onto the high school and the renovation of 12,000 square feet of the existing building. The addition and renovation will include space for 10 career-and-technical-education programs, although more programs may be added over time.

The project includes 27 classrooms, 13 or 14 of them for CTE and the rest for general classrooms that could be used for CTE as programs expand.

The new career-and-technical-education wing would open for classes in September 2024.

What is the cost and how will the district pay for the project?

The project is projected to cost $17,995,000, including all equipment and furnishings. The state will contribute an estimated $10,995,000 in building aid. That leaves $7 million for the district to pay. The state may end up contributing more building aid. Any other money will come from American Rescue Plan stimulus funds; long-term debt retirement; and savings in BOCES and transportation cost by offering programs on campus.

The project will not entail a tax increase, officials have promised.

What fields of study will be included at first?

Automotive technology, automotive body and repair, construction trades (including carpentry, electrical, plumbing and masonry), culinary arts, cosmetology, drone technology, cybersecurity, early childhood education, criminal justice and nursing.

How many students would attend CTE at Proctor?

Right now the district has about 240 enrolled in BOCES programs out of a student body of 3,000. But with programs offered on the Proctor campus, officials expect enrollment to increase by at least 50 percent by about 2026-27.

How many teachers will the district hire for the program?


Why does the district administration want to bring CTE back to Proctor?

District officials have cited what they say are many benefits to offering programs at Proctor and keeping kids on campus all day without an hour spent on a bus between Proctor and BOCES. Here are some of those benefits:

  • Students have indicated over the years that they’d prefer to stay on campus all day and many have chosen not to take CTE classes as a result.
  • Students currently can have trouble enrolling in high-demand courses at BOCES because of competition from students in other districts.
  • Students will have access to the district’s teachers, counselors and other support staff all day by remaining on campus.
  • CTE students would have more time to take electives and Advanced Placement classes.
  • More students would have access to programs that prepare them to enter jobs right after high school graduation.
  • The benefits of in-house CTE should help to increase graduation rates for CTE students.

What if the referendum fails?

CTE course would remain at BOCES. There would be no BOCES program or transportation savings, or state building aid, meaning most of the funds for the project would not be available for other projects.

How can I get more information?

The district will hold information sessions on the project at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29 at Sen. James H. Donovan Middle School and at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2 at Thomas R. Proctor High School. Information is also available on the district website at

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