Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  NEWS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives

Five districts join business office

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — January 29, 2010 — Five public school districts in Sullivan County have signed on to BOCES’ new Central Business Office (CBO) program.
Susan Schmidt, BOCES’ Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Management Services, confirmed Friday that the Monticello, Liberty, Fallsburg, Sullivan West and Livingston Manor districts will be sending some of their business office functions and personnel to the CBO.
BOCES is creating office space for the incoming staff and services at its administrative offices on Wierk Avenue in Liberty.
Each district is contracting with BOCES to do a certain set of business office functions, but Schmidt said all but Manor will be transferring accounts payable and accounting duties to the CBO, and all but Manor and Monticello have also signed up for payroll services.
The CBO is slated to begin operations on July 1, the start of the districts’ fiscal year.
What this means for current business personnel in these districts remains uncertain, as BOCES is working with its legal staff and the county’s Civil Service authorities to determine who will get what positions.
Schmidt admitted she cannot guarantee everyone will be retained, but she felt “conservatively, extremely optimistic” that BOCES and the districts will be able to avoid layoffs.
“Due to some anticipated retirements and restructuring in at least one of the business offices,” said Schmidt, “we may be taking on [all the existing personnel].”
She added that the only hire from outside the involved districts will be the CBO supervisor, and that may yet be someone already on staff at those districts.
The final staffing will be determined in about a month, she said, and with it will also come certainty about the savings to each school district.
Some superintendents, however, are already anticipating significant savings.
“About $25,000-$30,000 in the first year,” estimated Fallsburg Supt. Ivan Katz.
His Monticello counterpart, Pat Michel, estimated even higher – around $77,000 for the first year.
“We’re very much involved with it,” said Michel. “... Our taxpayers are at their limit.”
Michel, SW Supt. Ken Hilton and Liberty Supt. Michael Vanyo solicited formal board approval on the CBO proposal, even though since it’s a BOCES’ service, the superintendents had the authority to proceed on their own.
SW officials also used the CBO idea to restructure the business department. Assistant Supt. for Business Larry Lawrence was named Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services, while his second-in-command, Treasurer Lorraine Poston, was promoted to Acting School Business Administrator and given a $20,000-a-year raise.
In the end, Lawrence and Poston may be the only business staff to remain in district offices, as state law requires districts to retain a treasurer and purchasing agent.
Much of this has not sat well with those facing elimination or reassignment in the various districts’ business offices, but especially with the millions in state aid cuts being proposed by Governor David Paterson, local superintendents say there are hard choices they’re being forced to make.
“Probably the worst part of all this is knowing in some way or another people’s lives will be impacted,” acknowledged Katz. “But the driving factor for me is the very difficult times we’re in. ... My goal is to cut to protect what we offer in instruction to the greatest extent possible.”
Vanyo, who once worked in Liberty’s business department, said that office is outstanding, but efficiencies must always be sought.
“My staff has been extremely cooperative and very open-minded,” he related. “Our hope is we’ll be able to become more efficient, save money and preserve everybody’s job, wherever possible.”
Schmidt believes the efficiencies and savings that will be introduced this summer will show why CBOs have developed into a statewide trend – and may one day entice the other districts in Sullivan to sign on, if not serve as a model for local municipalities, too.
“We’re really excited about this,” she said.

top of page  |  home  |  archives