The Amherst Central School District was recognized for their longstanding efforts to regionally partner with neighboring school districts through a collaborative known as Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). Board of Education members were present at Erie 1 BOCES Northtowns Academy in Tonawanda as they watched a video address from Amherst student, Erin Wos, and accepted a plaque on behalf of the district.
Erin Wos is a senior at Amherst Central High School and is enrolled in Erie 1 BOCES' Introduction to Nursing program at the Harkness Career & Technical Center in Cheektowaga. She spoke to the Amherst School Board about the opportunities afforded to her by attending the regional program.
Approximately 75 Amherst Central School District students attend BOCES instructional programs for alternative education, career and technical education and special education. Through this collaborative partnership, the school district has been able to contain spending while affording students additional opportunities for learning. Sixty-eight of those students are enrolled in 21 of BOCES' 27 career and technology programs. From dental labs to electrical systems, BOCES provides classes at three, state-of-the-art, regionally-based centers.
Erie 1 BOCES provides much needed services to its components beyond student instructional programs; among them are efforts to comply with federal and state mandates related to health and safety. School districts are responsible for 23 different health and safety modules, such as radon testing and water quality, which are set by multiple state and federal agencies. To help manage these important tasks, Amherst coordinates their efforts with 21 other school districts by utilizing Erie 1 BOCES health, safety and risk management service. BOCES takes on the responsibility of providing health and safety training to school staff, conducting inspections and tracking school district compliance to help the schools reduce duplication of efforts. Sharing knowledge, best practices and updates to changing regulations are added benefits to Amherst from this cooperative.
In response to the state's Race to The Top (RTTT) initiative, Amherst Central School District partnered with Erie 1 BOCES to stretch their funding dollars. Amherst faculty have been participating in professional development sessions with 29 other school districts to implement RTTT changes such as developing common core-aligned curriculum, creating school-based inquiry teams and designing additional teacher and principal evaluation methods.
In today's tight economy, school districts have implemented cooperative bidding and purchasing based upon the notion: the larger the quantity the larger the discount. Erie 1 BOCES consolidates volume purchases for 40 school districts, including Amherst, and leverages it by conducting a formal bid process. In addition to the reduced cost for items, cooperative bidding allows the districts to dedicate more human resources to instruction. For example, by working together through BOCES, it is estimated that Amherst has reduced at least 60 man-hours of duplicative efforts on bids such as breakfast, cafeteria supplies, and calculators.
Statewide, school districts partner with BOCES in an effort to provide additional accountability, municipal sharing, efficiency and educational equity. Erie 1 BOCES, one of 37 BOCES in New York State, is a cooperative of 19 school districts surrounding the city of Buffalo. To assist school districts, the organization provides a variety of educational services including alternative education; career and technical education; communications; health and safety; human resources; labor relations; business office functions; policy; professional development; special education; and technology support.