Four local school districts won’t be switching to a different BOCES region after all.
State Education Commissioner Richard Mills ruled last week that Cobleskill-Richmondville, Middleburgh, Schoharie and Sharon Springs will stay in Capital Region BOCES instead of shifting to Otsego-Northern Catskills BOCES.
“The decision went our way,” said C-R Superintendent Lynn Macan.
Marie Wiles, ONC superintendent, proposed the switch early this year. She contended that the four Schoharie County districts were more similar to those in the Oneonta area than schools in the Capital District.
But representatives from the four districts countered that the shift would cost taxpayers more money while providing fewer course selections for students.
An independent study performed over the summer recommended the four stay with Capital Region, and testimony at an August hearing was heavily in favor of keeping the status quo.
Commissioner Mills’ ruling was the final word.
Ms. Macan learned of the decision in a phone call from Gerald Carozza, acting CEO of Capital Region BOCES, on Friday afternoon. Sharon Springs Superintendent Pat Green heard the news then, also.
“We’re all pleased in Sharon Springs,” he said. “It just would have cost too much more.”
Although local school officials were satisfied with the no-change decision, the process was a learning experience.
Ms. Macan said she’ll recommend expanding programs at the Schoharie BOCES center, particularly in health care.
“And we should revitalize our partnerships with local organizations,” she said. “We’ve got to pool our resources better. It’s an arena our kids need.”
Mr. Green said he was impressed with the ONC facilities in Milford and Grand Gorge. As a result of touring those schools, he established a cross-contract with ONC BOCES so that Sharon Springs students can take courses in visual arts and computer-aided design.
Those classes are offered at Capital Region BOCES in Albany, he said, but students would be there all day. Classes and round trip to Milford is only a half-day, Mr. Green said.
“Really, it was a very good outcome,” he added.
As for reorganizing BOCES regions to help ONC, Ms. Macan said the state may look at shared services and classes via computers to improve choices for students.