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Potential BOCES Cuts Spark Concern From Parents

District says they are trying to bring certain programs in-house to save money.

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 .

Sandy April 04, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Touché Jim. When I am mistaken I say it. I do still think it is a great idea even if our B & G people have to install it.
Wendy Regan April 04, 2012 at 05:34 PM
@Kerry Landhauser I almost fell off my chair when I read that your son's guidance counselor told you that one of the "new requirements" to attend BOCES is that your son has to "declare that he does not intend on going to college"! You might want to consult with an attorney about the district requiring a minor to make such a statement in order to be elligible for a Boces program. Your post made me wonder if IB students are also "required" to make certain declarations or assurances to the district regarding their future college attendance as part of the elligiblity process of the IB program. Does anyone know the answer?
TERRY B. April 04, 2012 at 06:23 PM
don't you think it's time the school dist. starts consolidating all of the superintendents jobs., not just shuffling the shells around, but eliminating them.
Kerry Landhauser April 04, 2012 at 08:37 PM
@Wendy ~ I nearly fell over as well. When his guidance counselor called to give me the news I could sincerely hear sadness in her voice. I know she felt very awkward. At this time I am going to continue to communicate with the admistration and BOE and hope that they will reconsider their new guidelines/requirements and see that these programs ARE important to these, "our", children.
Liam Murphy April 04, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I've said it before and I will say it again, people this is the calm before the storm. Our school budget will FAIL in the next vote. I come from a family of teachers and they are all scared SH!T!!!!! 3 more years and I can move out of this money sucking state!!!!!
debbiekel1 April 04, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I attended Boces 25 years ago. It was a wonderful program then & still is now. I was one of the people who received a phone call stating my son could not continue his 2 year Audio Production program. Luckily they are now allowing him to attend next year. While I am happy for him, I do have another child who wants to attend in the future. I have already been told it won't happen. What a huge disservice we are doing to our kids!! Boces allows our children to branch out and meet other kids from other districts with the same interests. They are not all IB students or Lacrosse players!!
Scott April 04, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Thank you Debbie. You have hit the nail on the head!
Kerry Landhauser April 04, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Perfectly said.
debbiekel1 April 05, 2012 at 10:59 AM
I would also like to know who deems what program is a viable one for our kids? Who at the school knows that my kids play multiple instruments, while not a prerequisite for the program my kids are interested in it certainly proves that that is their correct field of interest. It's like when you go to the pharmacy to pick up a med your doctor prescribed to be told it's not covered. When you call the insurance company they tell you to try something else on their formulary.
Rich April 05, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Once again we are going to split the community as one program takes a cut and others don't, Unfortunate for all of us and the students but Liam Murphy is correct. A divided community, disgruntled and angered parents, and upset students WILL lead to a budget defeat and an Austerity Budget and all the bullying, cajoling, or threatening by the BOE won't make a difference. It time to work together to save our schools for our kids, all our kids. But we need the support of the BOE to do it. First to work together, the BOE must admit that the present process and decisions are not working and it's time to reset the clock. Since the BOE made their decision the State has increased the funding to our schools twice, once in Januaru and once in March. Second closing schools was not only unpopular but it won't save even have of what it is supposed to save. First we could only lay off 7 teachers not 16. Second we need to maintain, light, and heat the vacant buildings. Third we need to pay for construction to construct makeshift classrooms from offices and lounges in the remaining buildings. All this and the kids are still overcrowded with poorer teacher to student ratios.
Rich April 05, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Then there is the problem of the Special Needs Integrated Program. We all know it worked well and should not have been moved from Westbrook. These children in particular will not do quite as well with being moved or being overcrowded, or not having the right resources. Now we have the BOCES problem. A great program forever. Some children do great in BOCES and may never go on to college. But to make them sign an affidavit that they have no intention of going to college just to get into BOCES is ridiculous. BOCES is all about choices, not trying to pigeon hole or trap someone
Rich April 05, 2012 at 12:16 PM
So a very simplistist solution to a budget deficit. Start from square one. Take our present budget subtract the additional money that the State has added and find the new deficit. Probably about 5 million. Then figure out the budget expenditures for the ES, MS, and the HS. Depending on the size of their budgets, each of these schools would have a share of the 5 million to cut. The larger the budget the larger the share. The cuts would come from everything. All activities, programs, and sports. No layoffs, but absolutely no new hires, no new purchaces no new construction. Maintenance and repairs only. Everyone works together to get the budget neutral. Since everything gets cut evenly no one feels like their program is being singled out. Since most cuts would be about 5% most programs would remain intact. Since all schools would remain open no teacher would be layed off. Probably the right time to demand a larger Heatlhcare contribution from all district employees including Administrators and teachers since we are saving their jobs and saving our children's education.
debbiekel1 April 05, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I need to state that I have friends & family that take part in both the IB program and Lacrosse. Both wonderful programs. My point is we must take care of all our West Islip students!
Larry April 05, 2012 at 02:14 PM
LOL When are you people finally gonna get it. It was only a matter of time to they get to cutting education. Don't you people get it, the animal of unionism is to keep growing itself to the point where it can no longer sustain itself. What do think happened to corporate america, the realized that you cannot guarantee people benefits, you just can't what happens when revenues go down and compensation keeps rising. I know its the 1% thats the problem for everything in the world. LOL Explain to me how you sustain that. Now the residents of West Islip who keep justifing employee compensation have to deal with the fact that your decisions to elect union cronies to your board is now slapping you in the face.
Larry April 05, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Keep talking about administration and its a valid point but it miniscule when you look at teacher compensation packages. I am not talking about just one teacher i am talking about them collectivley, when you look at the total dollar amount spent and owed to employees there is no way a declining enrollment system can sustain those numbers. Now its time to start watching you kids educational programs get dimantled, my takes tech class and loves working on cars he thinks its the greatest class and loves his teacher. well is that a class that we need, i mean i they are cutting boces why not cut tech class. This is what is going to start happenning they will get it down to english, math and science everything is gone. laugh at me now just like you did for the last couple of years, but everythin i have said has come true.
Larry April 05, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Hey Rich I love your post and man I feel for you. You always try and figure out the best solutions and I think that is great. I just want to ask you that why don't you ever mention employee compensation. Why is it always cuts to the children, why not even mention once istead of cutting sports, activities and programs cutting or reducing teacher compensation. I don't want to lay off teachers either and it sucks that the teachers we lay off are the ones we need most, those teachers are the future of the district the young ones earger to teach and make a name for themselves. However why don't you ever mention that when employee contract negotiations come due, absolutley no increases across the board and demand a reduction in salaries. No step increases and a reduction in pay by 10%, oh thats right because then the union could just refuse to negotiate and then the triborough amendment kicks in and the status quo continues. we are trapped buy a union that is holding the taxpayer and our children hostage!
MaureenL April 05, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I have had the exact same experience as Kerry Landhauser. My daughter was also dropped from a BOCES program because she previously made it clear to the school she plans to go to college. That was the one and only reason given. The program she applied for has not been dropped, she was dropped from the program. As Kerry said, it is so unfair to discriminate against these kids for working hard and trying to make the best career for themselves.
Bettylou April 05, 2012 at 04:49 PM
wow Maureen what program was that because I wanted to put my daughter in the nursing program and of course she wants to go to college for that.
Kerry Landhauser April 05, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Maureen ~ Sorry that you're in the same position. I would suggest that you contact your daughter's guidance counselor if you haven't had your meeting to set up her schedule yet. If you have, I was advised after writing to Mr. Simon to set up a meeting with guidance's dept. head, Mrs. Loddings, and Dr. Bridgeman to see if an exception might be appropriate as they may review each student on a case-by-case basis. He then wrote that "once you've exhausted building level appeals, you may meet with Mrs. Burns and then him (Mr. Simon)".
Wendy Regan April 05, 2012 at 11:42 PM
So with the additional (unexpected) $700,000 the district will be receiving from the state AND the new law that went into effect April 1, 2012 which makes all public and private elementary and secondary schools EXEMPT from paying the current MTA Payroll Tax, how about using that money to educate WI's kids and reinstate some, if not all of the Boces programs? It's "about the kids", remember?
MaureenL April 06, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Hi Bettylou - my daughter applied for the Cosmetology program.
Jim April 06, 2012 at 12:35 PM
The headline in the Babylon Beacon is "West Islip School Board to concerned parents: No cuts will be made to athletics for next year". The story goes on to discuss the potential acedemic cuts that will be made to ensure the sports programs remain untouched. The conclusion one can draw from this is that Johnny will be able to play football, but he won't be able to spell the word.
betty lou April 06, 2012 at 02:19 PM
good one jim! It is scary the way the school district thinks.
Jesse April 06, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Another interesting headline, this one in yesterday's Newsday, "LI Population Rises". The article says that Long Island's population is rising, less than the national average, but it is increasing. It also says fewer residents are leaving Long Isalnd for other parts of the country than in the past. Interesting because Mr. Gellar said the other night we know enrollment will continue to decline for ten years! We are leaving ourselves with not one extra classroom. I sure hope the Board is correct!
Anonymous April 09, 2012 at 05:36 PM
My concern is for my daughters our NEIGHBORING ((i prefer not to name because I have kids in the neigjboring school district))did the same thing last year (if you are attending college than no BOCES) and the guidance counselor said there were no guarantees. I MADE SURE I FOLLOWED UP AND THE FORMS MY DAUGHTER HAD TO FILL OUT ALONG WITH A CAREER questionnaire which the kids had to fill out online. I hammered them with follow up phone calls. My daughter is currently in the cosmetology program in a neighboring school district. I have worries about my 15 year old who wants to do the same as her sister ((that she wont be able to attend because of cuts)) Why are the schools being discriminatory? It should be equal opportunity for ALL. Why can't they find $200,000 in the budget and cut elsewhere??? Kids should have the option to go to BOCES vocational. The school districts curriculum can't compare to the way BOCES teaches.
Anonymous April 09, 2012 at 05:45 PM
If I were a school administrator or teacher I would cut my bonus or small salary increase if it were $200,000 or cumulative teachers to add up with combined teachers and give the money back to the kids BOCES program rather than cut kids vocational opportunities. It's a ME, ME SOCIETY. I GOT MINE, DID WE NOT LOSE OUR PRINCIPLES/scruples? KIDS FIRST. Bonuses LAST.
Anna April 09, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I'm not understanding how this works. You need to sign something that says you don't intend to go to college in order to be eligible to take BOCES classes now? What if you sign that you don't intend to go to college, take the BOCES classes, and then after you graduate go on to college anyway? What kind of binding effect does this college intention paper have?
Catherine Artusa April 09, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Anna I was at the budget meetings and I think I can explain a little. I think what the district is trying to do is scale down the boces program to the students that need it to be career ready. There are some students in all districts that use boces as an elective. As an example when I was in school I went to the cosmetology program at boces but then as soon as I graduated I went to FIT and became a buyer. So really that program was not necessary for my career needs. However I do believe it was a great program. The problem is that it is extremely expensive to go there. Unfortunately I think the district messed up on some students and denied them when they should have been excepted. They need to carefully look at each student again and make sure the right decision was made before it's too late. The last meeting Annmaire Larosa asked them to do that. So whoever feels their child should still be in the program because they really need it should contact the board before the budget is final.
fed up April 10, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Isn't nice to have a cosmetology certificate in case college didn't work or for women who have a college degree but decide to " work" from home after they have children. I think the district has so nerve deciding for the students!!!
Catherine Artusa April 10, 2012 at 11:41 AM
fed up truthfully I renew it every 4 yrs just to have but the fact is without years of experience or current training I could never work in that area. Trust me you would not want me to cut or color your hair.lol But still I think boces is great for program for alot of students. They have to find a better way of determining who needs the program, their are some that should probably be pushed in to it if they need it. Especially if it helps them stay in school.

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