OCM-BOCES to hold referendum on building purchase

— On Thursday, Jan. 23, voters in 23 school districts across three counties will be asked to go to the polls to approve a building purchase that will have no impact on their wallets.

Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES is looking to purchase the former Nationwide Insurance building, located at 110 Elwood Davis Road in the town of Salina. According to BOCES information officer Laurie Cook, the purchase would allow OCM-BOCES to relocate several programs now housed in leased space.

“A building purchase reallocates some of the current rental budget and allows those funds to be used to buy this building,” Cook said. “We’re putting $400,000 we currently use toward leases [annually] and putting it over toward the debt toward that building.”

Currently, OCM BOCES owns two facilities and leases eight more. In purchasing the former Nationwide building, BOCES would no longer lease several of those buildings, including the STARS building in Solvay, the Kasson Road building in Syracuse, parts of the Rodax 8 building on the Irvin E. Henry Campus on Thompson Road in DeWitt and the Science Center in Syracuse.

Among the programs already set to move is its administration, currently housed in the Rodax building. Otherwise, it will depend on what programs fit best into the building.

“It’ll be a logical split as to where the programs are,” she said.

While some renovations at the site are necessary to accommodate OCM-BOCES’ programs, Cook said those are built into the cost of the proposal, which is not to exceed $5.9 million.

“The main thing to stress is that it’s cost-neutral,” Cook said. “It’s a long-term investment.”

Cook noted the importance of BOCES’ programs in a time when services are being cut from traditional districts.

“The more funding that is lost in education, the more important it is to find alternatives to quality programs,” she said. “And it’s not just for students. It provides support for teachers, offers itinerant services, support for management — there’s a lot more to BOCES than just the educational piece.”

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