Rath, a Williamsville Republican, introduced the Build Back BOCES Act (S.9396) to create more incentives for BOCES programs and resources to increase the number of skilled trades graduates in New York City.
“Having a highly skilled, highly skilled workforce is integral to growing the economy in New York State,” Rath wrote in his legislative rationale. “From construction trades to health care to automotive careers, employers across the state are looking for job-ready candidates in skilled jobs. Unfortunately, many of these employers struggle to find suitable candidates to fill these positions. Despite burgeoning opportunities, New York isn’t doing enough to produce students ready to enter the workforce after graduating from high school. Not only is this lack of work-ready graduates a deterrent to students looking to kick-start their respective careers, but it is also a barrier for businesses looking to enter New York State.
The Build Back BOCES Act would raise the pay of BOCES instructors to $45,000 or the average teacher salary in the respective school district, whichever is lower, which would also set a salary increase for 2030 at at least $60,000. . Increasing reimbursement for BOCES instructors was one of BOCES’ demands during testimony before the Joint Legislative Budget Committees earlier this year, with Monroe 1 BOCES District Superintendent Dan White saying that teacher salaries from CTE averaged $67,000 statewide. The current $30,000 reimbursement by the state means that individual school districts must choose whether to increase their BOCES commitment each year or limit their students’ access to BOCES programs. White has called for a three-year phased introduction of the BOCES salary refund to $60,000, while Rath is proposing a seven-year increase in the refund to $60,000.
“The Build Back BOCES Act represents a direct solution to the challenges faced by New York City school districts seeking to provide students with an adequate education in a skilled trade,” Rath wrote in his legislative rationale. “Elements of the bill include an increase in instructor compensation, a more robust system for reporting hiring data, and a pilot program to introduce new incentives. By increasing the BOCES instructor income cap from $30,000 to $60,000, districts will be able to attract instructors from a wider range of technical fields. Improved reporting of graduate hiring practices will allow the state and school districts to adapt more quickly to changing workforce needs. Finally, the BOCES Enhanced Pipeline pilot program provides districts with a financial incentive to produce the highest rate of work-ready graduates. Through the Build Back BOCES Act, New York employers and students will have renewed access to skilled trades opportunities for the betterment of New York’s overall economy.
Rath also proposes to create a BOCES Enhanced Pipeline pilot program beginning in the 2025-26 school year rewarding 20 school districts with the most alumni enrolled in BOCES or CTE programs who have secured full-time or part-time work. in an eligible field within one year of graduation. These districts would receive increased BOCES funding for the next school year.
Rath said too few BOCES (30% in 2021) enter the workforce directly after high school. Creating a financial incentive for school districts and BOCES to send more graduates into the workforce could improve programs.
“This low rate reflects a lack of prioritization by the State for BOCES and the programming of vocational and technical education (CTE)”, Rat wrote. “Some of the things that contribute to barriers to work readiness are low salaries for BOCES instructors, lack of comprehensive data on barriers to hiring, and lack of incentives for districts to produce a workforce qualified. This legislation enacts the Build Back BOCES Act to overcome these barriers and reinvigorate New York’s skilled labor market.