March 2016 Issue
March 29, 2016

Activists urge lawmakers to boost funding for BOCES

Source: NYSUT United
Student activists get ready to tell their stories to lawmakers during BOCES Lobby Day.
Caption: Student activists get ready to tell their stories to lawmakers during BOCES Lobby Day. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Students joined forces with NYSUT members and leaders to give lawmakers first-hand accounts of the power of BOCES and its incredible range of programs: automotive, pharmacy, horse science, physical therapy, cosmetology, special education and more.

"It's such a unique environment that wasn't available at my home school district," said Alexis Murry, a student at Nassau BOCES' Doshi STEM Institute.

"People are motivated and passionate about the STEM field. Our equipment is top-notch. And it's so great to be with other girls who share my interests."

Joey Schneider, who has Asperger's syndrome, said the BOCES special education setting gives him the support he needs to succeed. "When you have Asperger's, you need to have somebody on your side. That's what I have."

The many teachers, administrators and students who took part in a BOCES Lobby Day made the case for more funding so programs can be enhanced and expanded.

"We know BOCES are a key part of our educational system and we need to spread the word so they can play a larger and more effective role," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta.

The BOCES advocates also urged lawmakers to:

  • n raise the cap on the maximum amount of a BOCES CTE employee's salary that qualifies for state aid. The $30,000 level has not been updated since 1990, and the rest of the salary must be covered by cash-strapped districts;
  • exclude all BOCES services and capital expenses from the tax cap;
  • allow BOCES to establish reserve funds to cover long-term costs;
  • give BOCES the same level of financial support as component school districts for school safety expenses like metal detectors and security devices; and
  • provide preschool special education programs with a desperately needed Cost-of-Living Adjustment.

— Sylvia Saunders

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