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State Legislation Proposes Sharing Among Schools

OSSINING, N.Y. – New York State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef has introduced legislation to expand the role of  Board of Cooperative Educational Services, also known as BOCES commissions, within the state. This board would make recommendations to share services between school districts, to increase savings, and hopefully reduce the tax burden on New York State taxpayers.

“I have introduced this legislation because New York has some of the highest local property taxes in the country. In fact, our local property taxes are 79% above the national average, with school taxes accounting for 60% of those taxes,” Galef said.

The assemblywoman also said that, “BOCES restructuring committees can help local school districts share and consolidate services, which can cut costs and property taxes.”

BOCES commissions were originally established in 1948 to help rural school districts share services. The new legislation would expand the role of these commissions, establishing a local commission no later than October of 2013. The BOCES model was recently recommended by two commissions, the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief (the Suozzi Commission) and the Commission on Local Efficiency and Competitiveness (the Lundine Commission).

There are 37 BOCES today, which help in both instructional programs and support services. Some of the instructional services include, according to the bill, vocational technical programs, physical and occupational therapy, and literacy programs. Some support services include central bus maintenance, regional information centers, and other office tasks, such as payroll.

“This legislation would simply help the community become involved in the very important process of consolidation and sharing. Each committee will produce reports that will be sent to the commissioner of education, who will either return the recommendation for changes or approve the recommendation and initiate orders to carry out the committee’s plans,” Galef explained.

BOCES commissions are not formed within cities of one million people or more.

Galef represents the 90th Assembly District, which runs from Ossining to as far north as Philipstown, and as far east as Kent.

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