BOCES students, teachers, superintendents, parents and, I hear, even some business owners are at the state Capitol today. They will ask lawmakers to put $203 million from the Fiscal Stabilization Fund into what’s known as “foundation aid.” That’s the general operating dollars that is built into the base of funding that districts can depend on each year.
BOCES stands for Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Larger counties — population wise — may have their own, or even several BOCES. Geographically large counties with fewer people often join together. Across the state, BOCES services can provide small, rural and poor school districts economies of scale. Back before state aid to schools was cut, starting in 2008, BOCES used to provide great alternative schools. Here’s more.
Funding for all schools helps BOCES. Among the more specific topics today, volunteer lobbyists will ask lawmakers to:
- Include BOCES in any pension-smoothing proposal that is enacted since they face the same fiscal pressures as school districts.
- Pass bills A.3137 (Galef)/S.2800(Ball), which would allow BOCES capital projects to be excluded from the property tax cap.
- Replace the onerous and inequitable 60 percent supermajority requirement needed to exceed the tax cap with a simple majority vote.
- Provide preschool special education programs with a desperately needed COLA so the staff, students and programs can receive the support they need.
BOCES programs have proven successful at increasing student achievement, while providing savings for property taxpayers. Preschool special ed, in particular, has proven to save many more dollars than is spent on it, but several programs are at risk of closing.
In case you missed it, here’s one parent’s story about the pre-school program her daughter attended.