The regional BOCES abolished three administrative positions this week and is expected to make more staff reductions over the next two months, a BOCES official said Thursday.
The layoffs are being caused by major reductions in state aid coming to the 31 school districts in the BOCES’ service area in 2010-11. This is expected to result in a decline in service requests from these districts, said Terrence Blanchfield, chief operating officer for the BOCES.
“We are going to be staggering layoff recommendations to the board through this spring,” Blanchfield said. The total number of layoffs has not been released.
The Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) provides a variety of educational services to districts in its service area, including career and technical education, special education, and gifted and talented programs.
The regional BOCES has more than 660 employees serving 31 school districts that have a total enrollment of more than 42,000 students.
Three administrative positions were abolished at a BOCES Board of Education meeting in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday “as the result of budget constraints imposed by the current fiscal crisis and grim economic conditions in our region,” according to the resolution.
The positions abolished include a campus coordinator for special needs learners, currently held by Nicole Eschler; coordinator for BOCES technology, currently held by Nicholas Langlie; and coordinator for technology integration programs, currently held by David Ashdown. The layoffs are effective July 1.
“It’s really demoralizing,” said Bert Weber, president of the Saratoga-Adirondack BOCES Employees Association and a horticulture instructor. “People are really worried about their jobs, their families.”
Weber said he and other union leaders met with BOCES officials this week to discuss the situation and the possibility of upcoming layoffs. “It’s disappointing news,” he said. “We are kind of holding our breath.”
Officials of the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES have invited the district’s 661 employees to informational meetings that will be held next week at the F. Donald Myers BOCES Education Center on Henning Road in Saratoga Springs and at the Southern Adirondack BOCES Education Center on Dix Avenue in Hudson Falls.
At these non-mandatory meetings, BOCES officials will discuss the financial problems facing the component school districts and provide detailed information on layoffs.
The state Comptroller’s Office has estimated the year-end state budget deficit at $8.2 billion, Blanchfield said in a memo to all employees.
“As a result of this crisis, Gov. Paterson has proposed in his annual budget a statewide cut of 5 percent state aid to schools,” Blanchfield said.
“But after running the formulas for our region, it is forecast that our 31 component districts will have a 10 percent cut in state aid, which equates to a loss of $28 million for next year,” he said.
Blanchfield said it is still unknown how the large reduction of state aid to local school districts will affect their requests for BOCES’ services. However, Blanchfield has heard from a number of district superintendents who say they will have to reduce the number of students they send to BOCES for its various educational services. These final commitments will come in May after the local districts finalize their 2010-11 budgets.
Blanchfield said local school district officials said they wanted BOCES to not increase its tuition costs in the coming school year. However, the BOCES will be raising tuition costs in 2010-11 because of its increased costs.
The tuition cost increases will range from a low of 2 percent for the career and technical education tuition and 6 percent for special education to a high of 8.5 percent for some school support services.
Blanchfield said the BOCES experienced a decrease in enrollment in its three major service categories this school year “and have been told to expect decreases going into the future.”