Discussion by West Islip School District administrators over possible changes to the BOCES Occupational Education program has caused some confusion with parents who are unsure if their children will be able to participate in the classes in the coming school year.
Several parents took to Facebook and e-mail to express their concerns after they claim to have received a call from their child's guidance counselor on Friday, March 30, reportedly saying their children could not attend a specific BOCES program next year because the field they wanted to pursue had been cut.
"How many people got phone calls from their child's guidance counselor telling them their child could not attend BOCES next year because the field they want to persue has been dropped by the district due to budget cuts?" Desiree Luppens Aiello posted on West Islip Patch's Facebook page Friday.
"Seriously how much more are they going to take away....maybe they should cut the sports....before they cut education," she wrote.
Lisa Piombino-Rudolph, whose son she said was cut from the welding program, said she was "completely blindsided" by the call.
"Parents were not given any notice this was going to happen. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get my son back into the welding program," she said.
During a budget presentation on March 29, Bernadette Burns, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said the district is looking to reduce expenses associated with the BOCES Occupational Education program within the next year or two.
The district would save approximately $200,000 by reducing BOCES programs that are similar to those currently offered within the district, according to Burns, though she did not mention which specific programs would possibly be reduced.
When asked about the potential cuts by a concerned resident during the March 29 budget meeting, Superintendent Richard Simon said because of rising costs and enrollment associated with BOCES, the district is taking a more critical look at the program.
"This is an issue that is not unique to West Islip, it's an issue across the area," he said. "The reccomendation that we're making to the board would in fact eliminate a few of the BOCES options, not most. Most would remain. And the vast majority students that are currently signed up for BOCES would remain."
Burns also said the district is looking to enroll students that are serious about pursuing a career in a BOCES-related field, noting that several BOCES participants have "excessive, non-medical related abscences." The district pays more than $12,000 per student enrolled in a BOCES vocational program, in addition to the standard cost-per-pupil, according to Burns.
Underclassmen interested in studying a vocation are currently being redirected to enroll in an equivalent elective course at the high school.
"We have a very robust elective program at the high school. We wanted to make sure that they had taken advantage of these courses before they elected to go to the BOCES program," said Burns. "We have redirected those students who have not exhausted those elective options here in West Islip."
By Burns' estimate, approximately 20 to 30 students will be affected by the reduction.
The next budget workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, April 3, 7:30 p.m. at .