Frequently Asked Questions About BOCES
You might remember BOCES from your own school days as a place for special education students and kids who couldn’t succeed or didn’t fit in at your “real high school.” But today’s BOCES is a whole different ballgame.
How has BOCES changed?
We still prepare students for the workforce, but we also provide students with important 21st century skills – such as critical thinking, teamwork, data analysis, resume writing – that will help them succeed in college, the military and their chosen career path. In fact, 95 percent of our Career and Technical Education students graduate high school – far exceeding the statewide graduation average – and many of them graduate with honors, earn college scholarships and carry technical endorsements on their Regents diplomas.
Don’t you still offer the same courses you did several decades ago?
Yes, we offer a variety of programs in both traditional and new fields because they are viable career options. But, we no longer simply teach a trade. All CTE programs integrate curriculum based on New York State Learning Standards in core academic areas – math, English, social studies and science. Our Carpentry students, for example, need to learn math, geometry and physics in order to successfully build structures, but they learn these things in a way that is applicable to their lives. This helps make learning relevant and interesting for our students.
What about special education?
We offer a number of special education and alternative education programs and settings. Some students are in our programs because their districts do not have the appropriate staff for certain students – such as teachers of autism or deaf students. Some students are here because their learning styles are not suited to a traditional classroom and school structure, but they are able to find success here.
My child needs to attend the Alternative School, but I don’t want him/her to be stuck there forever.
Many students do not feel “stuck” here – they enjoy it. Nevertheless, our goal is to work with the student, family and any relevant outside agencies to help transition students back to their home school whenever possible.
What kinds of services and extracurriculars can students participate in at BOCES?
For CTE students, Madison-Oneida BOCES hosts a chapter of the National Technical Honor Society and a chapter of SkillsUSA. Our Alternative Education students have leadership teams, mentoring groups, a school store and other options. Students from BOCES also have the option to participate in activities and clubs at their home school.
Why do you offer non-instructional services?
Administrative, business and management services can be costly for districts to support on their own. Many times, districts do not need someone to work in these types of positions full-time, but it is challenging to find a qualified person to work part-time. BOCES helps provide a solution. When two or more districts have similar needs – two districts each need a part-time payroll clerk, for example – BOCES can search for and hire someone who will then split his/her time between the two districts, and the districts will then share the cost of that employee. This allows districts to save money by paying only for the level of service they need; to have an appropriate, qualified person serving their needs; and to refocus their attention on students and programming.