School Business Official Matthew Metzger presents an overview of the 2024-25 Dutchess BOCES budgetDutchess BOCES’ annual meeting gave board members, staff and other audience members an overview of the agency’s proposed 2024-25 budget focused on the administrative and capital/rentals categories.

Dutchess BOCES’ 13 school districts will vote on these elements April 23, according to School Business Official Matthew Metzger. The other main category, programs and services, can fluctuate throughout the year based on the needs of each district and are paid for as they are used.

The total administrative budget for 2024-25, as presented, is up just 1.72 percent from last year. Metzger explained that one way BOCES tries to reduce the administrative costs to member districts is by charging a 10 percent surcharge to non-member districts for services they use.

This year, BOCES is asking member districts to approve the creation of a Career and Technical Education Reserve, which will be used to update equipment. There are no new charges to districts to create the fund. It would be funded through the sale of existing CTE equipment, and if there are extra profits within CTI, they will be deposited in the reserve, which has a maximum contribution of $500,000 per year and a $2 million cap, including any interest earned.

Following the annual meeting, attendees moved into the neighboring conference room for a meal created and served by Dutchess BOCES Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management students.

Darcy Sala, chef instructor, told the group that some of the students had been on campus all day, helping to prepare the meal and staying late to set up and serve. Each student introduced themselves and received a round of applause for their efforts.

Dutchess BOCES Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management students and staff open the buffet for dinner.The buffet-style meal featured vegetable and meat lasagna, poached Alaskan salmon with piccata sauce, tossed salad, jasmine rice with cardamom and star anise, a vegetable medley with Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, red peppers in olive oil with salt and pepper, rolls, and focaccia bread, according to Meyanna Lewis, a junior at F.D. Roosevelt High School. The dessert table had Danish pastries with fruit, classic cannoli, mini cream puffs and eclairs, she said. Iced tea, water, coffee and tea were available.

Following the meal, the board began its regular meeting.

During the meeting, Denise Dzikowski, executive director of alternative education and special education, gave a presentation on Threat Assessment Team training – a formal process in which concerning behaviors or threats are investigated by a small set team of people.

Dzikowski said the team is intentionally kept small to ensure confidentiality and has a coordinator, the school resource officer and social worker as set members, with others brought in as needed. Members participated in training by the firm, At Risk, with more training to come.

BOCES staff will be trained on “See Something, Say Something” in the future, she said, adding that staff members who work closely with students are often able to differentiate between a normal comment/outburst and something that is cause for concern.

Denise Dzikowski, executive director of alternative education and special education, gave a presentation on Threat Assessment Team training Dzikowski said BOCES isn’t in this alone.

“We are collaborating with Dutchess County and Dutchess County is being recognized as the only county in New York that has embraced these practices to the fullest and already has their teams up and running in a highly effective manner.” Several other member districts are also involved with the hope to expand it to all districts.