Grant To Pave The Way For BOCES Partnership

A $221,780 grant is paving the way for the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES and Greater Southern Tier BOCES to work collaboratively to expand innovative distance learning educational opportunities in the region.

The federal funding is an allocation through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program for Distance Learning and Telemedicine. It will expand course offerings and provide additional opportunities for an estimated 3,400 students in Western New York to earn college credit during their high school years. In addition, Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES and Greater Southern Tier BOCES adult education programs will use distance learning to expand facilitated readiness, review and career preparation classes for adult learners.

“The collaboration between two BOCES regions of New York State under this program is unique,” said Dr. David O’Rourke, Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES district superintendent/CEO. “It is the result of years of relationship building and collaboration between the two distance learning services. It will enable students in our rural communities to have new educational opportunities.”

Using technology, the distance learning program helps rural communities acquire distance learning and technologies, enabling local educators serving rural areas to establish interactive video conferencing links at locations too far to access otherwise.

“Erie 2 is thrilled to be able to continue to expand opportunities for our students thanks to the grant,” said Distance Learning Specialist Mike Bayba, Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES distance learning specialist in the LoGuidice Center in Fredonia. “We look forward to continuing to expand our collaboration with our partner, GST BOCES, and bring innovative experiences to students and teachers using video conferencing technology.”

The money will be used to increase video collaboration among 48 public schools in Western New York and the Southern Tier, expanding innovative distance learning educational opportunities in the region. This funding will specifically expand course offerings providing additional opportunities for students to earn college credit during their high school years.

“For our small, rural communities, the live video conference capabilities provided by the funding are an important element in expanding contact with and awareness of the global community,” said Rene Charles Carver, GST BOCES distance learning coordinator and Virtual Worlds coordinator. “E2CCB operates one of the best distance learning services in New York state. Our collaboration with them will serve to strengthen our partnerships with them and increase the benefits to the GST region.”

Distance learning programs are considered an ideal way to help rural areas access the expertise needed to explore a wide variety of subjects and areas of study and shape the skills necessary for the workforce.

“Schools receiving the grant funding will increase course options for their students, increase class-to-class collaborations with partners around the world, and increase access to remote educational resources such as museums, science centers, and in-field experts,” Carver said.