2024 Legislative Priorities: Align Public Sector BOCES Lease Terms

To provide a high-quality education, students need to have the right space. Unlike traditional school districts, many BOCES lease space rather than purchasing it. This is because BOCES are not taxing entities and rely on their component districts for capital project funding, and do not have ownership over their property in the same manner as a fiscally independent district.

As Demand Increases, BOCES Require More Space to Meet Growing Needs

As demand for BOCES programs, especially complex career and technical education, and special education programs, increases, BOCES require additional space to expand and accommodate this growing need. Current law allows BOCES to lease buildings and property from private sector entities for up to 20 years. These lease terms can be extended by an additional 10 years with the approval of the Commissioner of Education. However, under this same law, BOCES are only permitted to lease from public entities, including school districts, for periods of 10 years.

Opportunities for Expansion Exist

In a recent survey, the majority of BOCES reported lack of space as the number one challenge preventing program expansion (69%). While in some parts of the state privately owned space is both readily available and cost effective, in other parts of the state, such privately owned space is prohibitively expensive. That cost is exacerbated by the fact that even when leasing an actual school, the special education and complex CTE programs that BOCES offer usually require significant improvements and customization to accommodate students. Each lease agreement, including authorization and responsibility for construction, is negotiated between the BOCES and the owner. Allowing the option for a longer lease term would help assure the owners that changes made to the building are justified as they can count on a longer-term tenant, while also providing additional options to structure the financing of these projects.

For these reasons, BOCES of New York State requests that the allowable lease terms for public sector leases be aligned to match those for private sector leases.