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Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES)

BOCES is a public organization that provides shared educational programs and services to school districts. BOCES owes its origin to a state legislative enactment authorizing the formation of intermediate school districts. Passed in 1948, the act was aimed at enabling small rural school districts to combine their resources to provide services that otherwise would have been uneconomical, inefficient, or unavailable.

Simpler in structure and less autonomous than projected intermediate districts, the BOCES proved itself worthy of being both means and end. Not one intermediate district was ever formed, and cooperative boards proliferated rapidly, especially during the mid-1950s, reaching 82 by 1958.

In 1972 the Intermediate School District Act was repealed. Laws pertaining to BOCES (1950 and 1951), however, have remained on the books. Thus BOCES has developed from a special-purpose, interim agency into a formally recognized middle or intermediate unit in New York State's public education system. There are currently 37 BOCES incorporating all but nine of the 697 school districts in New York State.

At least 30 other states have moved toward regional educational configurations like BOCES.

Last Updated: April 5, 2011