Senators Bonacic And Larkin Call For Creation Of "tech-ii" School In Hudson Valley

John J. Bonacic

February 27, 2006

State Senators John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mt. Hope) and William J. Larkin, Jr. (R/C - Cornwall-on-Hudson), today said they planned on convening a forum in April with the goal of crafting legislation to create a regional school focusing on technology, math, science & engineering.

Given a "working name" by the Senators of the "Hudson School of Math, Science & Engineering", Bonacic and Larkin said a regional effort should be started to ensure that "our children are not left behind, and that leading educational opportunities are brought to their doorstep."

In November of 2005, Governor George Pataki signed into law the Tech Valley High School Act (S.5729), a joint collaboration between two Boards of Cooperative Services (BOCES) serving the greater Albany region.

Senator Bonacic said, "Albany and SUNY Albany have received substantial State assistance in the technology development area and young people in that area will benefit from it. We are the fastest growing region in the State and a regional school with a focus on the jobs of tomorrow would be an asset to our young people."

Senator Larkin said, "We are breaking new ground in secondary education. The vision for a Hudson Valley School of Math, Science and Engineering revolves around the desire to aggressively develop new talent in these fields. This type of academic institution, with unlimited scholastic challenges and opportunities, recognizes the unlimited potential of young minds and will help shape leaders and thinkers for the future of New York. This is an ambitious and

exciting undertaking, but we are committed to making it work for our talented secondary students knowing the contributions and future global impact they will make. I look forward to bringing our local leaders in education together for a thorough discussion about this concept and our goals for the future."

Under the Tech Valley High School Law signed by Governor Pataki, two BOCES districts will collaborate to build a regional school which will concentrate on technology. Under current law, BOCES districts offer vocational training, but students still attend their home school district for core curriculum activities such as English, Social Studies, Math, and Science.

"In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg is opening 'super-schools', giving kids opportunities they do not have in a traditional high school setting. We envision an academic setting focusing on technology based jobs - particularly concentrating in math and science, so our children who are particularly interested in these subjects can compete against the best in this worldwide economy," the Senators said.

Like the recently signed "Tech Valley" legislation, the Senators said their bill, would not allow "cherry picking", such as was proposed in the 1980's "Excelsior School" model - which allowed only those students of exceptional academic achievement entry into the school. "Students of diverse talents who want to focus their talents in the areas of science, math, and engineering deserve an opportunity to nurture those talents and energy in those areas. We have a problem in this nation with math and science and we want to make sure our region's children are not part of that problem," Bonacic and Larkin said.

BOCES, as a regional educational entity dedicated to the collaborative services for its component service districts is an ideal structure and cost effective model for this school.

In the case of the Albany region's Tech Valley High School, partnerships are being developed with existing technology based businesses to integrate local technology into the classroom. Other components of the Albany region's Tech Valley High School include:

- The creation of a joint board comprised of the existing board members of the two local BOCES to oversee the operation of the high school program;
- The creation of an advisory council consisting of members of the Capital District business community;
- Authorization for high school diplomas to be awarded by the student's school district of residence indicating that the student attended and completed the Tech Valley High School program.

In the Albany Tech Valley case, the school will be treated as a regional institute rather than a freestanding high school and provisions comparable to other State Education Department approved programs for accountability, voter participation and fiscal oversight are included in the law. The Senators indicated they expected those same conditions and circumstances would exist in the event the "Hudson School of Math, Science & Engineering" is created in the Ulster/Orange County area.

"The original Tech Valley concept was developed by two Albany area BOCES organizations. They are the model and the legislation was negotiated with the Governor, Senate, and Assembly. We will look to that model in developing the concept for our region if there is interest," the Senators said.

The Senators' forum will include representatives from SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Ulster, SUNY Orange, Orange-Ulster BOCES, based in Goshen, and Ulster BOCES based in New Paltz. In addition, industry leaders who have demonstrated an interest in technology will also be invited to participate.

"New York spends more per pupil than any State in the nation. At the same time, we are troubled by graduation rates which are lower sometimes than we like, and other concerns. The Hudson School can be a new opportunity to reach those students who might be otherwise be lost, and also provide an exceptional opportunity for students who want to focus in math, science, and engineering," concluded Senator Bonacic.