Syracuse, NY, April 20, 2012 – On April 20, the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released a report on the findings of their audit of the Cost-Effectiveness of Non-Instructional Services for New York State Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). The Comptroller’s audit included four BOCES in Central New York – Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM BOCES), Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery, Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego, and Oneida-Herkimer-Madison.
While the Comptroller’s audit found “that BOCES’ costs for non-instructional services are generally higher than the costs districts would pay if they performed the services themselves,” it is clear that the audit does not tell the whole story regarding the cost-effectiveness to districts. In many cases, the services that were compared were not the same as the services that were received by the districts through BOCES. In other cases, the comparison of cost-effectiveness did not take into account the overall cost of the services to the district and the savings received.
In one instance cited by the Comptroller’s audit of a program costing more, the district actually saved money. When looking at the participation of the Cortland Enlarged City School District in the BOCES Food Service Management Program, the Comptroller indicated that the district’s participation cost them $27,000 more through BOCES. However, prior to joining the service, the Cortland Enlarged City School District was incurring a deficit in their food service programs of approximately $70,000 in 2008-09 and $19,000 in 2009-10, that was reduced through the use of the service. In 2010-11, the service had a $4,564 profit. The Comptroller’s audit does not take this deficit into account and instead cites the difference in cost of just the salaries and benefits.
Cortland Enlarged City School District Superintendent Laurence Spring said, “Prior to utilizing the OCM BOCES Food Management Service, our District was operating a program that was running a significant deficit which was costing our taxpayers money. Through our participation in the OCM BOCES service, we were able to reduce the burden on our taxpayers and are more efficiently providing a cafeteria program to our students by sharing with other school districts.”
OCM BOCES District Superintendent Jessica F. Cohen said, “Despite the audit’s findings, we firmly believe that the BOCES approach to the development of services is cost-effective, saves taxpayer dollars before BOCES aid, and is consistent with the needs of our component school districts. It is disheartening that in this time when districts need to be exploring consolidation as a way of doing business, this report may discourage the very thing that should be happening.”
The Comptroller’s audit cites two additional instances where OCM BOCES non-instructional services resulted in higher costs to districts serviced. In both instances, the cost comparisons were made using different types and varied levels of services.
OCM BOCES Board of Education President V. Ann Wright also commented on the Comptroller’s report, “The goal of the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES is to offer high quality programs and services to school districts. We believe that there is significant evidence that this is done in a cost-effective manner before aid. We will continue to review our programs to ensure that they are provided to districts both effectively and cost-efficiently.”
For more information about savings opportunities through OCM BOCES, please visit their website at www.ocmboces.org.
For more information on this topic at OCM BOCES, please contact
Laurie Cook, School Information Officer
6820 Thompson Road
PO Box 4754
Syracuse, NY 13221