BOCES presents proposed budget

JOHNSTOWN – The Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Education Services presented the proposed administrative budget for 2013-14 at the annual meeting on Wednesday, which includes a 2 percent increase from the 2012-13 budget and large savings for the district in retiree health insurance.

“We are always looking at the bottom line to make sure that our districts have the money they need not only to support BOCES but to support themselves,” HFM Superintendent Patrick Michel said.

The total proposed budget for HFM BOCES is about $31.23 million. The largest expense is for special education, which takes up about 40.7 percent of the total budget with a cost of about $12.7 million.

The administrative portion of the budget is about $2.4 million.

The 2 percent increase will have to be paid by the districts that use BOCES services. The administrative budget will be voted on by the districts on April 24.

Michel said the percentage each district will pay for the administrative portion of the budget is based on a formula set by the state that factors in each district’s size, student population and poverty rate.

Michel said because of the newly merged Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville district, most districts will actually see a decrease in the amount they pay. He said the merged district will have to pay more for 2013-14 – about $75,634 compared to $40,156 -since it will be one larger district with a bigger student body.

He said the district was able to keep the increase at 2 percent because it was able to change the health insurance plan of retirees to allow a total savings of just under $200,000.

The BOCES district paid about $1.17 million for the health services provided to retirees this year and is projected to pay $973,615 for next school year.

The local BOCES serves school districts in Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties. Fifteen school districts use BOCES to offer more classroom programs and student services. Each district pays BOCES for the services that it provides and the amount is often different from one district to the next.

Townsend honored

The current president of the HFM BOCES Board of Education, Robert Townsend, recently announced that after 15 years on the board, he will not seek re-election this year.

He was honored at the meeting and received a standing ovation Wednesday. A representative of the state School Boards Association, Michael Bieber, was at the meeting and presented Townsend with a Legacy Award and several other recognitions for the service he provided.

“This was a very difficult decision for me to move on,” Townsend said. “This school district, this BOCES, this region will forever be in my heart. I will always be an advocate for what we do here and what you do in your districts; I can’t thank you enough for the recognition.”

The individual school boards had until March 25 to nominate people for the BOCES board.

However, the only nominations for the two available seats were incumbent Joanne Freeman, who resides in the Greater Johnstown School District, and Harry Brooks of Broadalbin-Perth.