Today is BOCES Advocacy Day, when representatives of the local Boards of Cooperative Educational Services visit Albany to make their case for more money, or at least restoration of proposed state aid cuts.
Rockland’s 10-member contingent had meetings scheduled with representatives from the offices of state Sen. Tom Morahan and state Reps. Ken Zebrowski, Nancy Calhoun and Ellen Jaffee from about 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m., making the case that local schools need full funding for programs. For the first time since George Pataki was in office, the state has not cut BOCES aid in the state budget, and for that local BOCES people are grateful, said Stephanie Gouss, the spokeswoman for Rockland BOCES.
That meant that for once, BOCES wasn’t arguing for itself. Instead, it was arguing on behalf of its member school districts, since a cut in their funding affects a district’s ability to purchase BOCES services.
One thing that has most educators worried is the proposed MTA commuter tax. This was one thing that the BOCES committee especially wanted to speak with Albany’s leaders about.
The MTA has proposed that every employer in a 12-county area including Rockland, from the one-person salon to the multi-billion-dollar megacorporation, pay the MTA 33 cents for every $100 of payroll.
East Ramapo, with a 2008-09 budget of $192.7 million and facing layoffs and school closings, would have to pay the MTA nearly $636,000, since the majority of its expenditures is payroll. North Rockland, with its Mirant payments already cutting into the district’s ability to pay for teachers and programs and also facing layoffs, would be asked to pay the MTA about $616,425, give or take.
BOCES would be asked to pay the MTA about $146,000, Gouss said.
“It’s become another unfunded mandate,” she said. “The MTA needs the money, but so do the school districts.”
In all, the BOCES reps felt that the local politicians not only heard them, but understood what they were saying. Now it remains to be seen what all the advocacy produces.