Chief School Officers Relay Legislative Priorities

Chief School Officers Relay Legislative Priorities
Posted on 01/31/2023

WSWHE BOCES administrators and board members; chief school officers from 31 school districts, along with their board presidents; elected officials including Senator Jacob Ashby, Senator Dan Stec, Assemblyman Matt Simpson, Assemblyman Robert Smullen, Senator Jim Tedisco, Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, Assemblywoman Walsh; and business leaders gathered virtually for the 2023 Legislative Breakfast. Although originally planned to be held in-person, organizers pivoted to a virtual event due to inclement weather. The WSWHE BOCES Chief School Officers (CSO) Advocacy Committee outlined their 2023 legislative priorities which include: school aid, increased state support for career and technical education, support for universal free meals for students, and school workforce development issues. 


To ensure all students are supported, the CSOs asked for the following provisions to be included for school aid in the 2023-24 State Budget:
- A due minimum increase for all districts, regardless of Foundation Aid phase-in
A “save-harmless” provision to ensure a stable funding baseline for all districts
Fully fund expense-based aids
Support an initial evaluation of the current cost to educate a successful student

They also requested an increase in State support for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs which provide students with essential skills that prepare them for college and careers. However, the existing BOCES aid formula for CTE programs operated by BOCES only allows districts to receive aid on the first $30,000 of a BOCES instructor’s salary. The average salary of a CTE teacher is now $65,000. To ensure students have access to the CTE pathway, the CSOs are requesting an increase in the amount of CTE teacher salary that is aidable.

For the last two years, schools have been able to offer free breakfast and lunch for their students and received reimbursement at the free-lunch rate for all meals served. This practice, adopted as part of the federal government’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted a pre-pandemic reality that students learn more effectively when they are not hungry. Additionally, more students who need school meals will take advantage of them when their peers are also accessing them. Rather than returning to the pre-COVID-19 practice of having some families pay in full or in part for school meals, the CSOs requested maintaining the availability of universal meals at no cost to families. 

 The CSOs are requesting policymakers to consider increasing flexibilities in teacher certification requirements and retiree employee employment, as well as Tier 6 reform to address teacher, bus driver and other staff shortages that are making it increasingly difficult to fully and properly staff buildings. Several additional ongoing issues relating to small group health insurance standards, increasing the threshold for capital projects, and transitioning to zero-emission buses were also discussed.

All of the legislators indicated the priorities that were outlined were all reasonable and that they would support the CSO Advocacy Committee.

For a full description of the priorities, please click here.