Districts approve HFM?BOCES?budget

JOHNSTOWN – The Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Education Services’ administrative budget for 2013-14 was unanimously approved this week by the 15 districts within the region. The plan includes a 2 percent spending increase and large savings for the district in retiree health insurance, HFM BOCES Superintendent Patrick Michel said Friday.

The total budget is about $31.23 million. The largest expense is for special education, which takes up about 40.7 percent of the total budget at about $12.7 million.

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

The 2 percent increase will have to be covered by the districts that use BOCES services. The administrative budget was voted on by the districts’ boards Wednesday.

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 pay more in 2013-14 than either of its two components did this year.

He said BOCES was able to limit the increase to 2 percent because it was able to change the health insurance plan for 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.

The only nominations for the two available seats on the HFM?BOCES Board of Education were incumbent Joanne Freeman, who resides in the Greater Johnstown School District, and Harry Brooks, a resident of the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District. Both were approved.

Levi Pascher can be reached by email at lpascher@leaderherald.com.