Meeting of the Board of Regents | October 2008
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Subcommittee on State Aid
Regents Proposal on State Aid to School Districts for School Year 2009-10
October 10, 2008
2 and 5
Issue for Discussion
What are promising directions for the Regents State Aid proposal concerning BOCES? Are there other recommendations from the Governor’s commissions on local government efficiency and competitiveness and property tax relief that the Regents should consider incorporating? What do representatives of educational associations recommend the Regents include in their State Aid proposal? What should the Regents proposal be for foundation aid? Other aid recommendations? Recommendations for mandate relief or cost savings?
Reason(s) for Consideration
At their June meeting, the Regents Subcommittee on State Aid reviewed information on the Report of the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness and the interim report of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief. Attachment A presents background information on BOCES and selected commission recommendations for purposes of identifying proposals for inclusion in the Regents State Aid proposal. It also lists recent Regents proposals in these areas.
On October 8, members of the Subcommittee sought advice from representatives of New York State educational associations on the Regents State Aid proposal. Vice-Chancellor Tisch and Regents Tallon, Bowman, Tilles and Bendit attended. Attachment B provides a summary of the meeting and policy questions that staff have identified to help the Subcommittee further develop their proposal.
A discussion of the Regents 2009-10 State Aid proposal will come before the Subcommittee on State Aid at its October 2008 meeting.
In preparation for the development of the Regents proposal on state aid to school districts for school year 2009-10, the Regents Subcommittee discussed legislative action on state aid for 2008-09 at their May meeting and recommendations of the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness and the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief at their June meeting. In September, the Subcommittee discussed Foundation Aid and Contracts for Excellence. Members of the Subcommittee met with the Department’s education finance advisory group on October 8.
Recommendations concerning Foundation Aid, Contracts for Excellence and cost-efficient strategies are being considered for inclusion in the Regents State Aid proposal for 2009-10.
For discussion purposes.
Timetable for Implementation
This discussion will inform the development of the Regents State Aid proposal to occur from now until the Regents approve their State proposal in late 2008.
BOARDS OF COOPERATIVE
A REPORT TO THE REGENTS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON STATE AID
Overview of BOCES
Selected Executive Commission Recommendations
Selected BOCES Programs and Cooperative Activities
The State Aid Work Group
New York State Education Department
Executive commissions on local government efficiency and effectiveness and property tax relief have made recommendations concerning BOCES and mandate relief for school districts and BOCES. This report for discussion by the Regents Subcommittee on State Aid presents background on BOCES, selected commission recommendations, recent Regents proposals on these topics, and descriptions of selected BOCES programs and cooperative activities. The report is intended to inform the Regents Subcommittee on State Aid as they consider recommendations for inclusion in the Regents proposal on State Aid to school districts for school year 2009-10.
BOCES .................................................................................................................. 3
Selected Recommendations ........................................................................... 6
Commission on Local Government Efficiency
and Competitiveness ............................................................................. 6
- Central High School ...................................................................... 6
- Regional High School ................................................................... 6
- Regional School Transportation Services .................................. 6
- Central Business Office Demonstration ...................................... 7
- Regional Collective Bargaining ................................................... 7
- Commissioner to Mandate Reorganization ................................ 7
- Cities with Populations Over 125,000 Eligible for
Membership in BOCES (New York City excepted). .................. 7
Commission on Property Tax Relief .................................................. 8
- Centralize and Streamline School District Reporting ................ 8
- Rescind the Statutory Cap on the BOCES District
Superintendent Salaries ............................................................... 8
- Establish a BOCES Statewide Energy Purchasing Program
to Save Energy Costs ................................................................... 8
- Provide Greater Sharing through BOCES Beyond what
BOCES is Legally Allowed to Provide ........................................ 8
Regents Proposals ............................................................................................ 9
- Streamlining School District Planning and Reporting ............... 9
- Give the Big Four City School Districts access to BOCES
Services .......................................................................................... 9
- Make Improvements to BOCES Aid ........................................... 9
- Eliminate the Salary Cap on District Superintendents ............ 10
Selected BOCES Programs and Cooperative Activities ........................ 11
Broome-Tioga BOCES: Alternative Education Programs .......... 11
OCM BOCES: Reading Recovery .................................................. 12
Career Academy ......................................................................... 13
Science Center ............................................................................ 14
Special Education: Technical Assistance Service .................. 14
Madison Oneida BOCES: Cooperative Bidding Service ............ 15
Broome-Tioga BOCES: Central Business Office ........................ 16
Energy Savings ........................................................................... 17
Erie 1 BOCES: Health Benefits Plan Trust ................................... 18
The following are basic features of Boards of Cooperative Educational Services as New York State has created them in the law and used them historically.
The Creation of BOCES
The Legislature created BOCES in 1948. A BOCES is an organization of school districts in a Supervisory District formed for the purpose of providing, on a shared basis, certain education services and facilities which can be more effectively and efficiently organized on a regional basis. As a creature of statute, BOCES exist to provide supplemental shared educational programs and services at the request of school districts. BOCES have no taxing authority and cannot borrow money or offer high school diplomas. There are currently 37 BOCES in New York State.
Each shared service is called a CO-SER (cooperative service agreement) of which there are hundreds. Each CO-SER is approved by SED staff on behalf of the Commissioner for each BOCES according to criteria guidelines written by Department staff, based on Education Law Section 1950, Commissioner’s Regulations, and advice of counsel.
The primary focus of BOCES is educational services to support and enhance the program of local school districts. In providing non-educational services, the intent of the Legislature in creating BOCES, was that they should not compete with the private sector, both in the kinds of services they provide and in only providing these services to school districts.
Although the bulk of BOCES work involves cooperative services approved by the Department, BOCES may engage in other activities that do not involve CO-SERS and are not approved by the Department. Examples of such cooperative activities are provided.
The Purpose of BOCES
The purpose of BOCES is to:
- Allow districts which do not have sufficient numbers of students to support a program individually to join with others and receive shared educational services and instruction
- Respond to school district needs permitted by Education Law;
- Develop effective and efficient programs to create economies of scale which result in cost savings, and
- Promote State initiatives through the role of the District Superintendent.
The Legislature provides aid on some services, which is a powerful incentive for districts to use BOCES services. When the State provides aid, it is calculated on a spend-to-get basis so that the more a district spends the more aid it gets. There is a state and local share of spending on BOCES services that the State aids. Aid is equalized so that low-wealth districts receive more aid than high-wealth districts. Here is how it works:
- In the spring, each district’s board of education selects BOCES services for the upcoming school year;
- BOCES staff deliver the shared services to participating districts and the districts pay BOCES;
- The following school year, BOCES Aid is calculated for each school district based on the cost of services;
- The aid is a state share based on a formula based on district wealth or tax rate (millage) measures;
- The aid is paid directly to the BOCES;
- BOCES returns money not spent on BOCES administration, facilities and services to districts at the end of each fiscal year.
BOCES have over 30,000 employees and a projected expenditure for 2007-08 of $2.5 billion. BOCES Aid appropriated in 2007-08 for 2006-07 shared services equaled $628 million.
BOCES are administered by District Superintendents who are jointly selected by the BOCES board and the Commissioner. District Superintendents are chief executive officers of the BOCES, regional representatives of the Commissioner, and the educational leader for local districts.
BOCES Programs and Cooperative Activities
Attachment A provides descriptions of a sample of selected BOCES programs and other cooperative activities that BOCES are involved with. These include:
Alternative Education programs provide a common positive school culture which focuses on maximizing student potential and providing academically rigorous courses, career opportunities, and a clear post secondary plan upon completion.
Reading Recovery programs serve the lowest achieving first grade students with one-to-one individualized daily sessions with a trained Reading Recovery teacher for 30 minutes a day over 12 to 20 weeks.
CareerAcademy is a high school program for at risk students which offers a rigorous curriculum of exploring different career paths through career exploration and smaller class sizes that foster positive relationships.
Special Education (Technical Assistance Service) provides district based support and consultation services to help district staff better serve students with more specialized needs so that those students may remain in the district and be successful.
Cooperative Bidding service provides bid coordination for participating districts and BOCES to help generate cost savings through large quantity purchasing and handling of all aspects of bid preparation and solicitation.
Central Business Office provides shared business office services to participating districts to reduce costs, eliminate duplication and create consistency among districts in the manner in which they carry out such services and functions.
Energy Savings describes a program that provides administrative functions for the New York School and Municipal Energy Consortium which includes the bidding process for natural gas and electricity for participating school districts and municipalities and has allowed participants to realize substantial cost savings by procuring these items as a group. This program is operated under an inter-municipal agreement.
The Erie 1 BOCES Health Benefits Plan Trust is a cooperative effort on the part of school districts and the BOCES to control cost and maintain employee benefits. This program is governed by the New York Insurance Department.
Commission on Local Government Efficiency
BOCES and School District Reorganization
The following are selected recommendations made by the Executive Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness in their 2008 report.
- CentralHigh School District
Amend state law to allow for the creation of central high school districts containing more than one high school. Modeled after central high school districts operating in Nassau County, these districts are independent districts which operate the secondary schools with the authority to borrow and award high diplomas, while component K-6 districts operate the elementary schools and levy taxes to support both the central high school district and the elementary schools. BOCES could be used as a management company to operate such school districts.
- Regional High School
Amend state law to allow for the creation of regional high schools composed of students from more than one school district. Modeled after the Tech Valley High School in East Greenbush, the regional high school is provided by BOCES. Districts can opt to send students and receive BOCES Aid. The sending school district awards the high school diploma and the regional high school has no authority to tax or borrow.
- Regional SchoolTransportation Services
To reduce the cost of transporting non-public school students and students with disabilities within a BOCES region, school districts could jointly provide transportation for students crossing district lines or with similar needs. In addition, BOCES could offer transportation administration services to school districts on a regional basis as a shared service to increase the efficiency of routing and reduce the cost of administration. The State should facilitate a demonstration project or projects to determine the effectiveness of this approach and whether it should be adopted for statewide use.
4. Central Business Office Demonstration
To encourage the use of BOCES for back-office school district operations like payroll and purchasing, the state should facilitate a demonstration project that will serve as a model for school districts in other BOCES regions.
5. Regional Collective Bargaining
Provide for a regional collective bargaining contract negotiated by BOCES, to which school districts could opt in. These regional contracts would be phased in as current contracts expire and would initially apply only to new hires, with existing employees “grandfathered” for some term.
6. Commissioner to Mandate Reorganization
Give the Commissioner of Education discretionary authority to order consolidation of school districts based on reviews triggered by objective standards, including but not limited to size in pupils and geography, declining enrollment, limited educational programs, ability to achieve fiscal savings, and high tax burden. The Commissioner’s order in each case would require a thorough review, the approval of the Board of Regents, and a public hearing in the area affected by the consolidation.
- Cities with populations over 125,000 eligible for membership in BOCES (New York City excepted).
Make the big city school districts eligible for membership in BOCES, with the understanding that a variety of other changes would have to accompany it.
Commission on Property Tax Relief
BOCES and School Districts (Preliminary Report)
- Centralize and streamline school district reporting
Create a single unit at the State Education Department responsible for all school district reporting, charged with responsibility for streamlining and consolidating all reporting. In addition, there would be no new legislative mandates or regulatory mandates from the State Education Department without a complete accounting of the fiscal impacts on local governments.
- Rescind the statutory cap on the BOCES District Superintendent salaries.
The current statutory cap on the district superintendent salaries is linked to the salary of the Commissioner of Education in such a way that ensures the district superintendent salaries remain aligned with the Commissioner’s 2003-04 salary. This salary level has proved to be an obstacle to hiring and retaining the BOCES superintendents in wealthier areas of the state where school district superintendents’ salaries are either on par or higher.
- Establish a BOCES statewide energy purchasing program to save
The commission encourages the expansion or replication of the New York State Energy Municipal Cooperative of the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES (see Appendix A for a description of this program). This cooperative is a corporation established under Article 5G of General Municipal Law to coordinate the purchase of natural gas and electricity for local governments in the regions served by National Grid and the New York State Electric and Gas.
- Provide greater sharing through BOCES beyond what BOCES is legally allowed to provide.
BOCES are primarily limited to providing shared services related to education for two or more school districts. This recommendation is suggested by way of testimony presented to the Commission and is not a formal recommendation of the Commission. The suggestion is that BOCES could share with school districts, public libraries and/or municipalities products and services such as:
- Broadband width;
- Assisting with implementing energy efficient buildings;
- Sharing transportation and maintenance; and
- Processing payroll or purchasing.
The following are recent Regents proposals concerning topics addressed by the two executive commissions.
- Streamlining school district planning and reporting. The Regents have recommended a mandate relief bill for school districts that would eliminate duplicative reporting and give the Commissioner authority to continue to upgrade and streamline school district and BOCES planning and reporting. Streamlining will also help the Department, BOCES and district staff to use information more strategically and comprehensively.
- Give the Big four city school districts access to BOCES services. The Regents 2008-09 State Aid proposal recommended that the State give the Big Four city school districts (Yonkers, Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo) the authority to contract with a neighboring BOCES for services in critical service areas that are strong in BOCES and weak in the city district and to pay BOCES Aid for such expenses. The Regents recommended the State provide a corresponding increase in aid to the New York City school district to allow it to fund similar programs within the city district without BOCES. Such regional services can include:
- Arts and cultural programs for students;
- Career and technical education programs for students;
- Staff development as part of a district-required professional development plan and annual professional performance review;
- Technology services provided through BOCES; and
- Regional teacher certification.
- Make improvements to BOCES Aid by raising the cap on salaries of BOCES employees that are aidable and increase the equalization of the BOCES Aid formula by eliminating the aid ratio option that benefits wealthier school districts. This would provide additional aid for increased costs that BOCES incur for employee salaries and would enhance the State’s role of providing educational opportunity by equalizing aid so that poorer districts receive more aid and wealthier districts receive less.
- Eliminate the salary cap on District Superintendents. This proposal would enhance the ability of BOCES and the State to attract and retain qualified individuals to serve as District Superintendents of schools by eliminating the current cap on salaries and certain benefits while maintaining limitations on payments for accrued leave at the time of retirement or other separation from service. The proposal would eliminate the salary cap, currently 98 percent of the salary earned by the Commissioner of Education for fiscal year 2003-04 or $166,762, with annual increases also limited.
Selected BOCES Programs and Cooperative Activities
The following pages describe some specific BOCES programs and cooperative activities that BOCES participate in. These are examples of such programs and activities. Each of the 37 BOCES offer more than 100 services each of which may be slightly different from the same service offered by another BOCES. BOCES offer many quality programs and services in addition to those that this section describes. The programs and the type of service are listed in the following table.
Type of Service
Central Business Office
Health Benefits Plan Trust
ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Broome-Tioga BOCES has offered alternative education programs since the early 1980s. These all lead to a New York State local or Regents diploma with credit recommended by means of a transcript to the local component district which grants a diploma from their school. The philosophy surrounding the programs is to provide a common positive school culture which focuses on maximizing student potential and providing academically rigorous courses, career opportunities, and a clear post secondary plan upon completion. Statistically, the program averages 90 percent of students gaining a high school diploma with 50 percent attaining a Regents diploma, and 40 percent a local diploma. In school year 2006-07 of the 81 students eligible to meet graduation requirements 43 or 53 percent graduated after four years.
Component school districts realize the benefit of cost savings, specialized programming and increased graduation rates. The program offers districts a safe haven for a student to have a fresh start. It offers several types of programs located across the region to meet geographical needs.
Students in the programs range from 5th grade through 12th grade. The five Learning Centers, each with a slightly different area of expertise, are:
- Columbus Learning Center which serves students in grades 5th-12th as well as an integrated special education component. The Center serves approximately 120 alternative education students in a rich community service learning environment.
- Tioga Learning Center serves a similar population but with a focus on musical courses and business education.
- Leslie F. Distin Education Center is a major site with the main campus serving a large special education population as well as offering career and technical education programs. Additionally this is the site for a Career and Technical High School for grades 9 -12. The 105 students in this program are focused on a field of study that has a corresponding career and technical education program.
- Vestal Learning Center serves student in grades 9th – 12th who typically have been disenfranchised with the educational system but are very bright and need a high level of independence and educational opportunity. These students earn credits in quarter units. The program averages 45 students each year.
- Endicott Learning Center serves several smaller programs which include a GED half-day program for students currently between 16 and 21 and at high risk of failing. The Center’s GED enrollment averages more than 60 students; some are in the program for 10 weeks and many are in the program for one to two years depending on the student’s planned outcome. Students in this program are encouraged to also attend a career and technical program. The Center provides a long term suspension program at this site which offers academic programming for approximately 40 students who are suspended one or more semesters from their home school but are scheduled to return.
Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES is a regional site for Reading Recovery, a nationally recognized early intervention program intended to serve the lowest achieving first grade students. The program supplements classroom teaching with one-to-one individualized daily sessions with a trained Reading Recovery teacher for 30 minutes a day over 12 to 20 weeks. Reading Recovery teachers teach students in Reading Recovery for one-half of each school day.
All training and continuing professional development of the Reading Recovery teachers must be provided by a specially trained Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. The training of the Teacher Leader requires a one-year residency training at either Lesley University in Boston or Ohio State University. The cost of this training is prohibitive for any one district to support individually.
The Teacher Leader provides:
- Year long training classes
- Support for new teachers
- Continuing professional development
- Research-based strategies
A significant amount of data is collected in the Reading Recovery program, which the teachers and administrators use to monitor student progress, make instructional decisions, and evaluate program effectiveness.
Another component of this service for districts is the Reading Recovery Planning Committee, which is composed of administrative representatives from each of the participating districts.
The Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Career Academy opened in September 2006 in order to help more students graduate from high school. The program was designed at the request of three large suburban districts. The profile of the students the program seeks to reach is students who are disengaged in learning, failing several courses, and at-risk of dropping out of school.
The Career Academy is a high school program for students in 9th through 12th grade. The core principles center around the three Rs – Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. Academic coursework is rigorous and the expectations for students are high. The program is designed to make learning relevant by providing students the opportunity to:
- Explore different career paths;
- Make classes meaningful and engaging;
- Learn in small class sizes; and
- Have positive supportive relationships.
During the first two years of their program, students explore careers while touring local businesses, and participating in vocational assessments to identify their interests. During the junior and senior years, students participate in career and technical education programs. The Career Academy inspires leadership and confidence in students as they become motivated to take ownership of their learning. The goal of the program is to have all students graduate with a Regents Diploma with a career and technical education endorsement.
In September of 2006, 56 students entered the Career Academy. Because of the success that students have had, school districts are enrolling more students in the program. In September 2008, 156 students from four component school districts will be attending the Career Academy. Examination of program data indicates that student absenteeism has decreased and students are passing Regents exams, putting them on track for high school graduation.
The Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Science Center offers a science kit program for K-6 classrooms that provides teachers with 42 weeks of science units per class per year. Currently, 30 districts, as well as OCM BOCES special education classes, use science kits.
The goal of the science kit is to provide:
- Materials and content knowledge;
- Teaching skills for teachers;
- Detailed lesson plans; and
- All living materials.
As part of the science kit program, professional development is provided that is science specific. During training, teachers learn the content knowledge and pedagogy skills for high levels of student learning, which occurs through hands-on exploration and dialogue on addressing common student misconceptions of the subject. There is a website and other resources to enhance student learning.
Another component is the Science Advisory Committee, which includes administrative representation from all of the districts using the science kits.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE SERVICE
In September 2005, the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES initiated a new service for component school districts and their students, referred to as the Special Education Technical Assistance Service (SETAS). SETAS provides district-based support and consultation designed to assist districts with students who require more specialized academic and behavioral interventions to promote successful student outcomes.
The goal of SETAS is to provide training, coaching and support to component school districts in order to have students remain within the district to be successful in a typical learning environment. There has been a significant increase in the request for this service and the program has grown from serving three districts to 18 districts over the course of three years.
Training is provided by a certified administrator with several years of experience in special education. The ability to customize the service to meet the specific needs of students and staff has been valued by school districts.
The structure of the support varies and includes:
- Staff development
- One-on-one coaching sessions
- Classrooms observation
- Joint meetings with staff
- Positive behavioral interventions and support
- Assistive Technology
Through participation in this service, school districts have been successful in meeting the needs of more students within their districts, by wrapping services and supports around the student rather than removing the student from the school for an out-of-district placement.
COOPERATIVE BIDDING SERVICE
The Madison Oneida BOCES Cooperative Bidding service provides bid coordination for ten school districts and BOCES. This shared service results in competitive pricing for supplies such as:
- Office, school and art
- Health care
- Cafeteria food
- Diesel, fuel oil and gasoline
- Duplicating paper
- Audio-visual equipment
- Athletic and physical education
- Print shop and carpentry
- Bus garage parts
- Custodial and floor care
The BOCES bid coordinator provides vendor source information, writes requests for proposals, and solicits vendor quotations and bids for districts on one-time or annual items not found on existing bids or State contracts.
With economies of scale in multi-district purchasing quantities, the BOCES Cooperative Bidding Service has generated millions of dollars in savings for participating districts. During the 2006-07 school year, 48t bids were developed, administered, and awarded through Madison-Oneida BOCES on over 8,000 items. When comparing the highest to lowest bidders, the savings amounted to $1,176,000. Cooperative bidding combines volume which creates economies of scale through a competitive market.
The BOCES Cooperative Bidding section on the Madison-Oneida BOCES website www.moboces.org announces bid opportunities to prospective bidders, posts bid results, awards, and ordering information for use by participating school districts. The website offers a cost-effective method to share information rather than printing, duplicating, and mailing bid documents to vendors or bid results to school districts. During the 2006-07 school year, the innovative use of the BOCES Cooperative Bidding web site generated an estimated $8,200 cost savings over traditional bid dissemination methods. The Madison Oneida BOCES Cooperative Bidding Service continues to seek cost-effective purchasing strategies to afford all component districts with reliable, quality, vendor solutions for products and services that comply with municipal purchasing regulations.
Central Business Office
In 1995, BOCES began the Central Business Office (CBO) based on discussions between districts and BOCES related to efficiencies that could be achieved through shared services. Thirteen years later the concept of a shared business office has grown from three full-service districts to eight. This synopsis presents some details regarding this service and its delivery and growth.
Financial Services Provided
Full Service: Budgeting, accounting, accounts payable, purchasing and payroll, cooperative bidding
AlaCarte Services: Any individual activity
Shared Business Executive: School district may elect to share a school business official with one or more other school districts.
Participation in Services
Districts Participating in Full Service (District enrollment):
Binghamton CSD (6,019) Union-Endicott CSD (4,246)
Vestal CSD (3,956) Windsor CSD (1,857)
Newark Valley CSD (1,298) Owego-Apalachin CSD (2,171)
Deposit CSD (612) Susquehanna Valley CSD (1,921)
Districts Participating in Ala Carte Services (District enrollment):
Maine-Endwell CSD (2,586) – Payroll, Accounts Payable and Fixed Assets
Districts Participating in Shared Business Executive Service:
Susquehanna Valley CSD (1,921) and Deposit CSD (612)
1997: Total General Fund Budgets for Original three Districts - $123 million
W-2’s for Original three districts – 3,007 (includes all district staff)
CBO Staff for the Original three districts – 22 (includes shared staff)
Today: Total General Fund budgets for 2008-09 for five districts - $366 million
W-2’s for six6 districts on 12/31/07 – 7,470
Current CBO staff for eight full-service districts, cooperative purchasing,
Ala carte and Shared Business Executive services combined - 43
Benefits/Value Added Services Provided/Requested
- More continuity of service through personnel cross-training and back-ups
- High level of experience and expertise in private and public sectors
- Internal controls implemented at CBO
- Cooperative bidding and purchasing service – buying power
- Each district benefits from experiences of all other districts
- Most districts save money on a gross cost basis
- Since business office costs in a school district are not aidable and mostly borne by taxpayers, the BOCES Aid that the CBO affords all districts shifts significant costs to the State
- Largest district cumulative savings before BOCES Aid since the 1997-98 school year - $1.8 million
- Largest district cumulative savings after BOCES Aid since the 1997-98 school year – $6.1 million
The Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES is the “Administrative Participant” for the New York School and Municipal Energy Consortium (NYSMEC). Currently there are 142 school districts, BOCES and 24 municipalities participating in the program. This represents 666 individual natural gas and 1,363 individual electric accounts.
By State Education and Municipal Laws, electricity and natural gas are commodities that must be bid. OCM BOCES handles the bidding process and the billing and acts as a liaison. This includes:
- Bid specifications and review
- Award and placement of contract
- Payment of bills
- Confirming of service class and rates
- Final reconciliation of accounts
Over the past five years, participating districts within the OCM BOCES area have saved over $8 million when compared to market prices.
Erie 1 BOCES
Health Benefits Plan Trust
The trust plan was created in 2003 by four collective bargaining units and Erie 1 BOCES in a cooperative effort to control the cost of employee benefits among 14 component school districts.
An article 44 Trust is a plan governed by the New York Insurance Department and controlled by 10 trustees, five appointed by the labor organizations involved and five appointed by the Erie 1 BOCES Superintendent. As such, the trust is jointly run with both union and management having equal say in benefits offered to members and premiums charged.
- The plan provides health benefits to employees and eligible retirees of Erie 1 BOCES and participating school districts, through two networks of providers (i.e., hospitals, doctors and other health care professionals). As a self-funded plan, the trust benefits from having premiums which more closely reflect the actual health claims experience of the trust’s covered employees as opposed to an industry-wide experience, which a traditional insurance plan, employing ‘community rating’ would adopt. (Conversely, a trade-off in such a plan is that should actual claims experience exceed premiums, the employers are directly liable for covering this expense.)
- Another benefit of this arrangement is that by covering 14 employers, the premium cost per employee is likely to be lower than for an individual district.
Note that there is no legal prohibition preventing schools and BOCES from forming such arrangements currently as this BOCES has done. As such, no Regents action is necessary beyond highlighting and perhaps advocating for this option that is already available.
Regents Proposal on State Aid to School Districts
for School Year 2009-10
Sustainability and Competing Priorities
- What should the Regents proposal be for sustaining the foundation formula?
- What are the trade offs in a school aid plan that costs $1.0 billion versus $2.0 billion?
- Factors to consider:
- Providing aid to all districts (minimum guarantee)?
- Targeting to high need or C4E districts?
- Pre-K, foundation formula or aid on expenses districts have already incurred?
Contracts for Excellence
- If the State Aid increase is limited,
- Who should be subject to Contracts for Excellence?
- How much should be devoted to new programs versus maintenance of effort?
- How do we ensure districts have the resources to be successful?
- How should districts transition to smaller aid increases when Foundation Aid is fully phased in?
- Education finance is a State-Local partnership:
- What is the right balance between State Aid and school district contributions?
- Should the Regents recommend cost-efficient or mandate relief strategies to complement the Regents Foundation Aid proposal?
Meeting of Members of the Regents Subcommittee on State Aid
With NYSED’s Education Finance Advisory Group
October 8, 2008
Summary of Discussion
Regent Tallon made brief introductions and welcomed participants. He talked about the issue of declining revenue numbers with regards to the state budget. He asked the participants to be open and honest in the discussion of state aid for 2009-10 and possible ideas to be incorporated in to the Regents proposal. Regent Tallon stressed the emphasis on the proposal for 2009-10 rather than the possibility in an adjustment to 2008-09 aid.
Regents State Aid Proposal
Chuck Szuberla gave highlights from the September presentation to the Regents Subcommittee on State Aid.
The following summarizes discussion concerning questions posed to the group.
The financial crisis should be used to improve the distribution of aid to districts. Do not propose flat funding.
The Foundation Aid formula should be preserved, even if full implementation must be stretched out. Next year the increase should be moderated to around 3 percent. Retain the focus on high need districts. The schedule is constrained this year with the Executive proposal planned a month early.
Expense driven aids must be honored. These represent help already promised with expenses already incurred by school districts. Constrain them going forward.
Attack at least two major cost drivers – e.g. special education and consolidated business functions, including creating incentives for shared health insurance programs. Other cost containment and cost effective strategies mentioned include:
Certain adjustments to the state aid formulas were mentioned. Note that option 1 is the only option that saves money; options 2-4 would add additional costs. Options include:
Other recommendations included:
James Tallon, Chair
Merryl Tisch, Vice Chancellor
Charles S. Dawson, Jr., Deputy Director of Governmental Relations, New York State School Boards Association
Brian Bennett, New York State United Teachers
Dan Kinley, New York State United Teachers
Lorraine Deller, Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association
Dennis Sweeney, Rural Schools Association
Bob Biggerstaff, Small Cities
Kristee Iacobucci, Office of the State Comptroller
Peter Mannella, New York Association for Pupil Transportation
Bob Lowry, NYSCOSS
Winnie Eisen, NYC Department of Education
Bob Biggerstaff, NYS Association of Small City School Districts
Charles Winters, NYS Association of Small City School Districts
Richard G. Timbs, Director, Statewide School Finance Consortium
Tom Rogers, Executive Director, New York State Council of School Superintendents
Bob Lowry, Deputy Director, New York State Council of School Superintendents
Steven VanHoesen, New York State Association of School Business Officials
Peter Griffin, School Administrators Association of New York State
Jim Carr, NYS Association for Superintendents of Buildings and Grounds
Peter Mannella, Executive Director, New York Association for Pupil Transportation
James Baldwin, District Superintendent, Rensselaer-Columbia-Greene BOCES
Kristee Iacobucci, Office of the State Comptroller
State Education Dept.
Richard P. Mills