February 26, 2020

BOCES needs must be taken care of in state budget

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations
FEH Boces Student Activists
Caption: Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES educator Tracy Edwards and her government students head out to meet with state lawmakers. Photo by Sylvia Saunders.

ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 26, 2020 — New York State United Teachers members and students from BOCES programs across New York will converge on Albany today to push back on changes to how BOCES programs are funded. The union warns the changes could limit students’ access to career and technical education programs and other course offerings statewide.

As NYSUT pushes for a $2.1 billion increase in education aid for schools statewide, the union is calling on lawmakers to reject a proposal that would merge expense-based aids, such as BOCES aid, into the Foundation Aid formula.

By scrapping the current system for funding BOCES, NYSUT warns that in the future, school districts would no longer be reimbursed for the cost of sending students to BOCES programs, such as CTE courses. Without full state funding, districts could look to curb participation in BOCES. With fewer students, BOCES would be forced to consider cutting CTE programs that districts, particularly in rural areas, are unable to provide on their own.

“Playing shell games with different pots of school aid is the wrong way to fund our schools,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Instead of tinkering with funding formulas, the state needs to make a significant investment in public school districts and BOCES programs that students need. The message is simple: Fund our future.”

Continued underfunding of Foundation Aid and expense-based aids, combined with the restrictive property tax cap, negatively impacts the ability of school districts to purchase BOCES services and programs. In addition to seeking new funding, NYSUT continues to push for BOCES expenses to be excluded from the tax cap.

NYSUT also is advocating for a change in law that would allow the state to cover more than $30,000 in salary for BOCES instructors, a cap that has not been updated in 30 years. Expanding the cap would unlock additional funding for BOCES programs, allowing them to support and expand CTE programs.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.