As a constituent and supporter of public education, I urge you to reject the executive budget proposal that merges 11 aid categories, including BOCES aid, and establishes a block grant called Services Aid in their place. This would scale back statewide programs that BOCES provide and create a disproportionate cut to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that offer pathways to graduation for students and access to career and technical training.
This proposal is completely contrary to the mission of BOCES ― to provide cost efficient services to districts and services that oftentimes the district would not otherwise be able to access. The merging of BOCES aid into a block grant would be particularly damaging to small, rural school districts that gain from the economies of scales BOCES are able to provide. BOCES promote cost-effectiveness in school operations by enabling districts to reduce overhead costs and to offer specialized high-quality programs at a lower cost than if each district attempted to provide its own program.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, BOCES have played a major role in collaborating with school districts to ensure students have access to essential services and provide the resources needed to support students.
BOCES are a leading force in expanding equity and learning opportunities for all our state's students. They have expanded access to educational programs for many of New York's students who are at-risk ― opportunities these children might otherwise be denied. These services, which include special education, alternative education and career and technical education, are vital to students in small, low wealth and rural school districts.
I urge you to reject the executive budget proposals to consolidate 11 expense-based aid programs and use federal funds to supplant, not supplement state support for schools. This has the effect of reducing state support for BOCES programs, resulting in the underinvestment of high-quality programs that provide students with the skills employers demand.
I further urge you to enact common sense revenue enhancers on the ultrawealthy who have thrived during the pandemic and reject the premise that there needs to be reductions in programs and services offered by BOCES. The economy is ever-changing, and we need to prepare our students for the careers of tomorrow. BOCES will play a critical role in ensuring that our children are well-prepared and qualified to enter the 21st century workforce.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. I respectfully ask that you bring up this issue with your conference. I look forward to a reply to my email. Sincerely,
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