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CO-SERs 101: An Introduction to BOCES Services. April 2009. What is a CO-SER?.

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CO-SERs 101: An Introduction to BOCES Services

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what is a co ser
What is a CO-SER?

A CO-SER is an approved cooperative agreement to establish a shared service for one year between a BOCES and two or more districts. Services are provided at the request of component districts to respond to an established need, and must be shared. Services should be cost-efficient and effective. Not all BOCES services generate aid; however, all General Fund services must have an approved CO-SER.

why do we have shared services
Why do we have shared services?
  • Districts lack sufficient numbers of students
  • Program requires specialized equipment, facilities or staff
  • More cost-effective to share through BOCES
  • BOCES can provide more or better opportunities for students
what s the legal basis for co sers
What’s the legal basis for CO-SERs?
  • Education Law Section 1950, especially paragraph (4)
    • Aidable services, prohibited services, cost effectiveness, contracts
  • Commissioner’s Regulations Part 112
    • Approval of BOCES-operated services, approval of unanticipated shared services, approval of BOCES-operated

services other than

shared services

what are the two major components of a co ser
What are the two major components of a CO-SER?
  • Program Description: Needs, Planning, Goals, Evaluation, Staffing, Fiscal Data
  • Budget Description: Cover Page, Cost and Program Data, Transfers, Sharing/Revenues

Note: With the implementation of the new State Aid Management System (SAMS) for BOCES in 2009, the means by which this information and data is submitted to SED will change.

how many services are there
How many services are there?
  • About 200 different services; about 5,000 total CO-SERs across the 37 BOCES
  • Some services operate in all BOCES, e.g., occupational education
  • Few BOCES have other services, e.g., junior ROTC
what are the criteria guidelines
What are the Criteria-Guidelines?

Criteria-Guidelines represent the array of services BOCES are approved by the Commissioner to operate. BOCES Administrative Handbook 2 contains the criteria guidelines for each service. They provide information on how to operate a service including the kind of students served, the nature of the service, standards for approval (general and specific issues),

aid constraints, etc.

where is handbook 2
Where is Handbook 2?
  • It may be found on the SED website at:

how are co sers classified
How are CO-SERs classified?
  • Activity Code
    • 4 digit activity code based on the State Comptroller’s Uniform System of Accounts code, e.g.,

5230, advanced mathematics

  • Program Serial Number (PSN)
    • 3 digits; BOCES assigns a number from a prescribed range
what are the program serial number ranges of co sers
What are the program serial number ranges of CO-SERs?

101 - 199 occupational education

201 - 299 special education

301 - 399 itinerant

401 - 499 general education

501 - 599 instructional support

601 - 699 non-instructional support

(Program and data descriptions must be submitted to SED for these - Occ. Ed. and itinerants are exceptions)

how are co sers indexed
How are CO-SERs indexed?

Most CO-SERs have a Criteria- Guideline, which is the minimum standard. These Criteria-Guidelines are enumerated in Handbook 2, indexed according to:

  • Class/division
  • Numeric
  • Alphabetic
what are the classes divisions of co sers
What are the classes/divisions of CO-SERs?
  • Instructional
    • Special education,occupational education, general education
  • Instructional support
    • Coordination or supervision, pupil services, instructional resources, staff development, curriculum development
  • Non-instructional
    • Negotiations, business office, transportation, information, facilities, planning, school lunch
what are the special co ser numbers
What are the special CO-SER numbers?

001 Administrative budget

002 Capital expenses

701 Operation and maintenance

702-799 Internal transfers

801-999 Special aid projects

what other guidelines are available
What other guidelines are available?
  • Handbook 1
    • General guidelines for CO-SER preparation
  • Handbook 3
    • Administrative budget guidelines
  • Handbook 4
    • Reporting requirements for programs & facilities
  • Handbook 5
    • Operating procedures and policies
how does an idea become a co ser
How does an idea becomea CO-SER?
  • A proposal may be submitted to SED for consideration at any time.
  • New programs and services cannot begin until approved.
  • Requests are submitted to BOCES Unit; use Attachment B.
who may be served by co sers
Who may be served by CO-SERs?
  • Component districts
  • Non-component districts, except the Big 5
  • Districts outside the supervisory district, through cross-contracts, with permission from both District Superintendents
  • Non-public schools - for data processing and instructional support services
  • Charter schools - occupational education and data processing only
can a boces serve a big 5 school district
Can a BOCES serve a Big 5 school district?

Only the following:

  • Syracuse can participate with Onondaga BOCES in a shared program and/or facility for special education (E.L. 1950, sub. 8-a)
  • Big 5 can purchase student information system services (E.L. 1950, sub. 8-b)
  • Big 5 can purchase instructional support services (staff and curriculum development only) (E.L. 1950, sub. 8-c)
can a boces serve other entities
Can a BOCES serve other entities?

The answer is “No,” unless specifically authorized in law.

For example, BOCES may not serve

  • out-of-state districts
  • town governments
what are the exceptions to the prohibitions on providing service
What are the exceptions to the prohibitions on providing service?

BOCES may serve:

  • Non-public schools for instructional support services only
  • Public agencies (U.S.government, NY State, public school districts, community colleges) - for occupational education and data processing only
  • Not-for-profits, to participate in federal career training programs only
with whom may a boces contract
With whom may a BOCES contract?

To support district programs, BOCES may contract with:

  • The United States of America
  • New York State
  • Public school districts
  • Community college, “ag & tech” colleges
  • Other public agencies
  • Independent private colleges
  • Arts providers
  • Environmental education providers
what services can t be offered as a co ser
What services can’t be offered as a CO-SER?
  • Some health services
  • Administrative staff (except shared business manager)
  • Day care for the public
  • Services to out-of-state districts
  • Legal services
  • Skywriting
how are co sers related to aid
How are CO-SERs related to aid?

All CO-SERs must be approved, but:

  • Not all CO-SERs/services are aided, e.g.,
    • No aid for special education co-sers - districts get Excess Cost Aid
    • No aid for municipal services
  • Expenses within CO-SERs may not be aided
what services are not aided
What services are not aided?
  • Adult education services (including EPE)
  • Special education services
  • Health services to non-public school students
  • Municipal services
  • Prekindergarten
  • Transportation
  • Funded from other sources
what elements of a co ser are not aided part 1
What elements of a CO-SER are not aided (part 1)?
  • Salaries over $30,000
  • Share of service (person for itinerants) greater than 60% [can share with BOCES, but cannot be employed by both BOCES and district]
  • Unshared activities (must be shared either together or sequentially), except arts in education
  • Participation of districts that are non-components of any BOCES
what elements of a co ser are not aided part 2
What elements of a CO-SER are not aided (part 2)?
  • Student transportation
  • Adults in secondary occupational education programs
  • Textbooks as part of a textbook service
  • Special items in specific CO-SERs, e.g., no equipment in Model Schools
  • Materials that become district property, e.g., consumables
what about revenues received as part of a co ser
What about revenues received as part of a CO-SER?
  • In occupational education programs, “recoveries” are allowed where “real life” experiences are valuable as part of the instructional program, e.g., constructing a building, but must be deducted.
  • All other revenues except component revenues are deducted, e.g., grant funds.
what co ser elements need to be specifically justified
What CO-SER elements need to be specifically justified?
  • Consultants (only short-term, when qualified staff unavailable)
  • Travel outside the BOCES region
  • Third party vendors
  • Contracts
  • Equipment
why are expense and aid so different
Why are expense and aid so different?
  • Some expenses are aided elsewhere, e.g., transportation, special education
  • Expenses funded by other revenues must be deducted, e.g., federal grant money
  • Excess salaries
  • Refunds from prior years
  • Unapproved services
  • Tuition received from individuals deducted
  • Unaidable CO-SERs, unaidable expenses
  • Sharing formula (millage, aid ratio, save harmless)
how do boces charge for services
How do BOCES charge for services?

As three-quarters of participating boards agree:

  • Percentage
  • Combined
  • Per pupil or unit
  • FTE “pooled” rate - must be used for itinerants (combines salaries)
what if there s money unspent at the end of the year
What if there’s money unspent at the end of the year?
  • Refunds must be returned to the districts annually
  • Returned based on participation, to components and other participating districts
what if a district wants a service that boces doesn t offer
What if a district wants a service that BOCES doesn’t offer?
  • Cross-contracting, if the service is available and both DSs agree
    • Use universal cross-contract form - first signed by school superintendent, then home district superintendent, then providing district superintendent
  • District can purchase from a vendor
  • District can provide it themselves
what is the annual co ser cycle
What is the annual CO-SER cycle?
  • Dec. 15 BOCES receives PAD* (current year + inflation)
  • Feb. 1 BOCES submits PAD to SED
  • Oct. 1 Q amendments for prior year services to match SA-111
  • June 15 A amendments for current year services to match SBM-4

*PAD= preliminary approval document

NOTE: With the implementation of the new State Aid Management System (SAMS) for BOCES in 2009, there will be changes to this process (see later slides for more details)

when and how should co sers be amended
When and how should CO-SERs be amended?
  • When
    • Whenever the scope or activities change, e.g., addition of fingerprinting to the safety/risk management, addition of a grade to alternative education, or a major change in sharing
  • How
    • Send a revised Attachment B to SED, found at:

what are some specific co sers part 1
6211 School/Curriculum Improvement

Supports staff/curriculum development network


Model Schools

Supports model schools network


Safety/Risk Management

Supports establishment of school district health, safety and risk management programs

What are some specific CO-SERs (part 1)?
what information about co sers is readily available
What information about CO-SERs is readily available?
  • Report 11
    • Useful to determine which BOCES is providing a specific service
  • 602 report
    • Financial and statistical comparative data
  • BOCES report card
    • BOCES program data, regional assessment results, budget data
  • Staff Development Report
    • Describes CO-SERs 6211, 6261, 6262, & 6368
what recent changes have been made to co sers
What recent changes have been made to CO-SERs?
  • Three new Criteria-Guidelines created:
    • 6161: Coordination, Additional
    • 7211: GASB 45 Planning & Evaluation
    • 7471: Fingerprinting
  • New Criteria-Guideline Numbers established for Occ. Ed. for use in new State Aid Management System (SAMS) for BOCES.
what is sams
What is SAMS?
  • SAMS stands for the State Aid Management System.
  • An integrated Web-based data management and communication system for use by NYSED, public School Districts and the BOCES.
  • It will become the means by which BOCES will submit financial data, as well as, submit, amend and review CO-SER data.
  • It will be the interactive means by which the BOCES and State Education Department will work together on CO-SERs.
how will using sams be different from what is done now
How will using SAMS be different from what is done now?
  • Currently, all CO-SER submissions and amendments are done via paper. With SAMS, these processes will happen electronically.
  • The actual transmission of a CO-SER will happen much more quickly.
  • What won’t be different is the Office of Educational Management Services’ personal interaction with the BOCES.
how will the conversion to sams work
How will the conversion to SAMS work?
  • Starting in the spring of 2009, BOCES will begin to submit data and information to SED via both the current methods and SAMS (where appropriate). Some data will only be submitted via the current method.
  • At a future date, SAMS will become the sole means by which BOCES will submit certain data and information.
what do we need to remember
What do we need to remember?
  • Legal
  • Appropriate
  • Shared
  • Timely
  • Amend whenever there are changes
  • Requested and planned by component districts
where to find more information about co sers
Where to Find More Information About CO-SERs
  • NYSED Office of Educational Management Services:

Phone: 518-474-6541

Fax: 518-474-1983