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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 .

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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