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Friday, March 12, 2010

Budget Area 6: BOCES Programs & Services

During the final Community Roundtable, which took place on Monday, March 8, participants discussed each area of the school budget and made recommendations to the Board of Education regarding which programs and services could be cut and which should be maintained. In order to keep the conversation going, we invite readers to post their thoughts on the following question that was presented to participants at the Community Roundtable. (Click here to read a PDF document that outlines the steps taken so far in the budget development process.)

Local Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) offer programs and services to area school districts throughout New York State. Broadalbin-Perth is part of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery (HFM) BOCES.

BOCES were established in 1948 as a means for school districts to offer specialized services that they could not afford on their own. New York State encourages school districts to use BOCES services by offering state aid on BOCES purchases. Broadalbin-Perth receives 74% state aid on 95% of the programs and services it purchases through BOCES; this reimbursement is applied to the following year’s budget.

Most of the money Broadalbin-Perth spends with BOCES is on special education, alternative education and career and technical education. According to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), public school districts are required to provide a free and appropriate education and related services to all students, regardless of ability, from birth through age 21. Some students with disabilities in Broadalbin-Perth are best served in classroom situations that are not economical for B-P to provide on its own; these students are served through BOCES. Similarly, some students find that they cannot thrive in a traditional school setting. For these students, alternative education placements as well as career and technical education opportunities through BOCES might be more appropriate.

Just as some educational services are more economically purchased through BOCES, some administrative services would also be more expensive if brought “in-house.” This includes BOCES’ substitute teacher service, data processing services, and public information service.

As is the case in all areas of the budget, there are certain budget items within BOCES programs and services that cannot be reduced or cut because of state and/or federal education law. However, other budget items could be reduced or eliminated. In the chart on page 2 of this PDF document, only budget items that could be completely eliminated have a corresponding “estimated tax levy impact” figure. Budget items that cannot be cut are listed in italics; because they cannot be cut, the “estimated tax levy impact” column is not applicable.

Do you believe the Board of Education should look for cost savings in this area? If so, what budget items should it consider reducing or eliminating?

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