Erie 2 Board of Cooperative Educational Services will remain as it is for now, the state education commissioner has decided, putting an end to speculation the organization might be divided and parceled off to two neighboring BOCES.
But in a letter to the Erie 2 BOCES board president, Commissioner Richard P. Mills left open the possibility that a reorganization may happen later.
Mills directed the superintendents of Erie 1, Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus and Cattaraugus-Allegany-Erie-Wyoming BOCES to take a more detailed look at "the benefits and disincentives to reorganization possibilities."
"He's recommending the three superintendents come together and do some long-term planning," said Clark J. Godshall, who has been leading Erie 2 BOCES on an interim basis since Richard G. Timbs retired last summer.
Mills asked the three to look at enrollment trends, current and emerging needs, administration and programs.
He asked them to report back to him by Jan. 30, 2007, with their findings and "recommendations regarding next steps." Donald A. Ogilvie, superintendent of Erie 1 BOCES, will be chairman of the group.
Mills also directed Godshall, the superintendent of Orleans-Niagara BOCES, to conduct the search for Timbs' permanent replacement.
A state-commissioned study concluded three months ago that the status quo was working well for Erie 1, Erie 2 and Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES.
But the study, by the University at Buffalo's Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth, also said Mills should take a closer look at eventually dissolving Erie 2 BOCES. The institute had less than four months to collect data and suggested more time was necessary to adequately tackle the issue.
A likely scenario would merge the eight school districts in southern Erie County with the existing 20 districts in Erie 1 to form an Erie County BOCES. The other 19 districts in Erie 2 would join with Cattaraugus-Allegany to create a Southern Tier BOCES.
The sentiment in Erie 2 has run strongly against any such reorganization. The other two local BOCES, though, have been receptive to a change.
A public hearing in November drew impassioned pleas to keep Erie 2 intact from the superintendents of several of its member districts, most of them in rural areas.
They feared their districts would suffer if larger, wealthier districts such as Orchard Park and Lake Shore left for an Erie County BOCES.