Ulster BOCES officials were asked a number of months ago to come up with an idea on how to make remote learning better. Superintendent Urbina-Medina recalls that since leaders in all county districts were struggling, this was an attempt to pool resources to work on a better solution. The result was called the River-to-River Academy, and it was intended not to be a remote alternative for a short time, but a fleshed out independent path to graduation, similar in that way to the vocational programs now offered through BOCES.
What gave many superintendents pause was the cost: $13,000 per student per year. BOCES costs are reimbursed through state aid, but that money circles back a year later. In order to make the program work, BOCES officials would need commitments for 280 students throughout the county. That has not come to pass. Urbina-Medina told New Paltz board members last week that “it’s not really an option for every student” due to the cost, and would have to be limited to no more than five students in each grade level who had the knack for independent study necessary to succeed in this fashion. Only officials in Kingston made any commitment to send students at all, but BOCES officials never got a single student registered. With the start of the year looming and state overseers declining a request for this to be an alternative program in any case, the idea has been shelved for now. It remains to be seen if the idea will be dusted off for next year.