BOCES Service Delivery
Boards of Cooperative Educational Services are regional organizations that provide quality educational, administrative and technical services to component school districts, to enhance educational opportunities for students and cost-effectiveness of the educational system. The component districts own the BOCES; BOCES cannot tax or earn state aid, although they do prepare aid claims on behalf of the component districts and receive state aid payments for them.
Participating districts are those that use programs offered by a BOCES. They do not have to be components to participate in a program, but they are required to pay for the costs of those programs. A district may be a component of one BOCES and participate in the services of a different BOCES. BOCES also cross-contract with one another. The structure to manage these programs is the Cooperative Service Agreement, or CO-SER.
BOCES services are developed to provide effectiveness or efficiency under one or more of the following circumstances:
- Individual component districts lack sufficient numbers of pupils for and/or interested in receiving the service;
- The program requires high cost or specialized equipment, facilities or staff.
- Operation of the program by the BOCES will result in a lower total cost than individual component district operation; and/or
- Operation of the program by the BOCES will result in improved service to pupils.
BOCES must obtain the prior approval of the Commissioner of Education before providing any service, whether a new offering or a continuation. The Cooperative Service Application is the document used to request this approval. Each year, the state’s BOCES operate over 5,000 CO-SERs. Each CO-SER represents a separate program or service available from the BOCES.
BOCES services cover a wide variety of areas. They may include such things as:
- Instructional, e.g., vocational and technical courses, special education, academic and alternative programs, summer schools.
- Support services, e.g., itinerant teachers and specialists, such as art, music, health, speech therapists, psychologists, or social workers for those districts who could not afford a full-time position; and
- Management services, e.g., staff development, computer services, printing, educational communications, and cooperative purchasing.
BOCES may offer shared services when requested by two or more of its districts. After the BOCES obtains approval and determines budgeted program costs, it notifies the districts of available programs and the applicable rates. It estimates the price of the service and gives the district a shared cost based on anticipated enrollment or other factors. The districts decide in April whether to purchase a service. If so, a cooperative service agreement or CO-SER is signed. A service must include two or more districts, with no one district receiving more than 60 percent of the service.
Each BOCES submits an annual Cooperative Services Application (CO-SER) to the State Education Department (SED) for approval of programs and services offered to districts. Whenever BOCES changes the nature of a previously-approved service, or whenever BOCES extends a previously-approved service to additional districts, a CO-SER amendment must be submitted. An unapproved service is not aidable. There are eight codes in the approval system: approved with full aid; contingent approval; approved with aid restricted; approved with no aid; returned without action; not approved, accepted for information only; and withdrawn. Only the first three ratings will receive aid.
CO-SER data is submitted to SED at least twice a year, the estimated numbers during the summer, any revisions during the school year, and final reports the following October. Whether or not a district will receive aid is dependent on this approval process.