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Cuomo's cuts hit BOCES cost-sharing incentives

Feb 21, 2011 11:23 am
Before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo put forth his budget earlier this month, state legislators were talking of ways to bring down education costs through consolidation of services. Now, the New York Times is reporting that the governor is proposing to eliminate financial incentives that have long rewarded districts that join together to use services provided by 37 regional educational agencies known as the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, or BOCES. Now, Winnie Hu is reporting that, "Under Mr. Cuomo’s proposal, districts would no longer be partly reimbursed for sharing many noninstructional services, including payroll and business office support; labor relations and negotiations; personnel recruitment; public relations; school food services and management, and coordination of substitute teachers, extracurricular activities and sports. Currently, individual districts get back 36 percent to 90 percent of what they pay for services provided by BOCES, state officials said, with the payments determined by districts’ wealth." While districts would still be compensated for instructional and some noninstructional services from BOCES, Hu continues, the governor now wants to change the reimbursement formula to lower the minimum rate to 10 percent from 36 percent. The estimated cost savings from the governor’s proposal would be $34 million in the first year, the 2012-13 school year, officials said. In response, superintendents and BOCES officials argue that the districts are already facing a $1.5 billion reduction in state aid and a tax cap that would limit their local revenue, and they believe the state should be increasing incentives for the districts to lower costs, not reducing them. The battlelines keep thickening...