The nine school districts that make up Oswego County BOCES are being asked a simple question in the wake of the impending retirement of BOCES’ Superintendent: Should Oswego County BOCES continue to exist as it is?
Each of the county’s nine districts received a letter recently asking them to complete a survey.
It follows the decision of BOCES Superintendent Dr. Joseph Camerino to retire at the end of the school year.
The survey asks for the pros and cons of four options:
- Make no changes to Oswego County BOCES, meaning that Camerino’s position would be filled and BOCES would continue to serve all nine county school districts;
- Transfer districts from a contiguous BOCES to Oswego County BOCES, meaning that schools in the BOCES districts bordering this one — Jefferson/Lewis BOCES, Onondaga/Cortland/Madison BOCES and Cayuga/Onondaga BOCES — would be transferred into Oswego County BOCES;
- Transfer districts now in Oswego County BOCES to a neighboring BOCES;
- Merge Oswego County BOCES with a contiguous BOCES, meaning that Oswego County BOCES would close.
Officials in Fulton and Hannibal, where the surveys were recently discussed with their boards of education, said the state called the survey routine — a regular response to the retirement of a superintendent.
The state is only asking for input, not a decision. The final decision lies with the State Education Department, according to BOCES Board of Education member Matt Geitner, who represents Fulton schools on the board.
If there’s a decision to merge with another BOCES, he said, the merger study alone would last a year.
If Oswego County schools are forced to join another BOCES, they’d go to the BOCES that was closest to them. For Pulaski, Sandy Creek and perhaps SPW, that could be Jefferson/Lewis BOCES. Central Square and Phoenix could join OCM BOCES. Hannibal, Fulton and Oswego could join Cayuga/Onondaga BOCES.
Only Mexico, dead center in the county, does not share a border with another BOCES.
Hannibal Superintendent Mike DiFabio said moving to Cayuga/Onondaga BOCES would save taxpayers some money because C/O BOCES’ budget is smaller.
Fulton Superintendent Bill Lynch said that though there have been some issues with BOCES, “it has served our students well.”
“I don’t see how they can force schools to talk about consolidation and not look at BOCES,” said Fulton board President Robbin Griffin.
DiFabio said that a fifth option should be on the table: Merge with another BOCES, but keep the Mexico campus open as a satellite.
Officials of both schools complained that the state is supplying no information to help inform the request for input.
“These are supposed to be data-driven decisions and there’s no data,” said Fulton board member Robert Ireland.
Surveys are due back to the state around the end of the month.