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Murphy: county needs a BOCES

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - Updated: 8:44 AM

By PETE KLEIN

Express News Staff

LAKE PLEASANT -- Hamilton County Workforce Investment Council Chairman Bill Murphy says the lack of its own board of cooperative educational services is a handicap to Hamilton County.

"One large challenge facing Hamilton County is the fact that it is served by five different BOCES. The current setup divides the county and prevents a comprehensive BOCES program," he said recently.

Created in 1948, a BOCES provides services to school districts that cannot afford to provide them independently. Over the years, various BOCES have expanded into special education, career and technical education, management services and "back office" functions, such as payroll, employee benefits administration and transportation services.

In Hamilton County, Indian Lake Central School District is a member of the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES; the Long Lake and Raquette Lake school districts are part of the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES; the Wells, Lake Pleasant and Piseco school districts belong to the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES; and Inlet Common School is a member of the Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida BOCES.

Murphy says there is a hidden cost to this arrangement. "This set up means every penny spent on BOCES programs leaves the county," he points out.

"It also means Hamilton County BOCES students spend a substantial amount of time traveling to venues outside the county for their instruction.

"The time has come," says Murphy, "to investigate the requirements for creating a Hamilton County BOCES. The great advances in communication technology and distance learning equipment make it possible for [BOCES] students to remain in their individual schools four out of five school days per week.

"This would represent an 80 percent reduction in travel time, and allow more productive use of students' time."

How this might be accomplished in the face of the strongly territorial nature of the boards of cooperative educational services as they protect their budget funding remains to be seen.

Another problem would be that membership in a BOCES is permanent; there is currently no process by which a district can terminate its status as a BOCES' component district.

-- Editor Cristine Meixner contributed to this article.

     

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