I recently had the pleasure of meeting with the Capital Region and Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). As an engineer, I understand the value of a quality education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I also recognize that a one-size-fits all curriculum does not serve our students best.Programs like those offered by BOCES give students hands on learning opportunities in trades or professions of interest to them.
BOCES has such a fundamental role in our region, from providing local students with hundreds of customized career programs, GED prep, programs for students with disabilities so they have a chance to develop skills for their future, and all at a cost savings for our school districts who collaborate on resources to maintain our BOCES.
In this rapidly changing world, we need to be creative and adaptable in the ways we facilitate learning in our classrooms. Ensuring that our BOCES institutions are supported will allow us to continue transforming students’ lives and equipping them with the professional skills they need to thrive and give back to their communities.
However, this year’s executive budget proposal does not clearly lay out the aid available to BOCES. Instead, the governor’s proposed budget consolidates 11 categories of aid, such as textbook aid, and library and computer hardware aid, into a single “service aid” category. On top of this cloudy funding system, this consolidated category of aid is facing a $393 million cut.
I have been reaching out to the schools in my district to understand their concerns and fight for more transparency and support in the upcoming budget. We cannot risk any cuts to our BOCES programs while awaiting the federal government’s decision to provide requested funding to New York State. Our schools have already been hit hard in the past year, and I’ll continue fighting to do all that I can to strengthen the rights of students and support funding for these critical programs.