History of Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES

Our History
  • Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES was created as a result of a meeting of the Boards of Education and trustees of the First, Second and Third Supervisor Districts of Cayuga County in 1954 after the establishment of BOCES in 1948.
    In 1960 two of the supervisory districts consolidated. Authorization was given to purchase real property and construct a new facility in order to provide occupational education services. In 1968 the South Street Road campus located in Auburn, NY, was constructed as the first newly constructed building by a BOCES, but it was meant to serve as a temporary structure. For forty years, the original building permitted the development of a structured and comprehensive program of services for children attending the component school districts. In 1998 the directive from the Commissioner of Education was to address the condition of the forty year old building. The outcome resulted in a new building located on West Genesee Street Road, Auburn, NY, where it would provide programs and services to the children and entire community.
    In 2007 the new campus was built on 64 acres of farmland previously owned by the Cayuga County Industrial Development Agency. The new $42.1 million, 200,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Regional Education Center became the first LEED certified public school in New York State in 2009 when it was awarded LEED Silver Certification.
    Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES serves nine component school districts: Auburn, Cato-Meridian, Jordan-Elbridge, Moravia, Port Byron, Southern Cayuga, Skaneateles, Union Springs and Weedsport. The new facility as well as the services and programs provide an equal opportunity for individuals in our communities to obtain an education and gain skills.
    The Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES that we know today recognizes the leadership of five district superintendents who each contributed to the success of schools in the supervisory district and in the creation, structuring and continued improvement of the BOCES.

    • Raymond T. Sant served from 1936 to 1966 as District Superintendent and is known as ‘The Consolidator’. Mr. Sant worked with seven component districts in the consolidation of 60 one-room school houses and the centralization of schools.
    • Leo A. Soucy was the District Superintendent from 1966 to 1970 and is known for being ‘The Initiator’. Mr. Soucy’s key achievement during his term was working with legislation that permitted BOCES to purchase land as well as construct and finance buildings. Additionally, he implemented a comprehensive educational program for the new structure.
    • Paul W. Haley was not only District Superintendent from 1971 to 1986, but he was also ‘The Executive’. Mr. Haley had the challenge of conflicts in labor/management, high inflation, diminished state financial support and employee unemployment during his term. As ‘The Executive’, Mr. Haley conserved scarce resources and continued to provide educational programs that required great skill. He worked with component school districts to provide the leadership, support and assistance necessary to protect existing programs and services.
    • Frank Ambrosie served as the District Superintendent and ‘The Planner’ from 1987 to 1998. During his term there were demands to increase graduation requirements and program content, which meant vocational education services could diminish or be eliminated. Dr. Ambrosie worked with other District Superintendents and State Education Department officials to convince the state that vocational education services should remain but enhancements would be made. The results led to changing a number of programs and services as well as correcting or addressing the inadequacies of the South Street Road campus. The basis for the need to improve educational facilities had been established.
    • District Superintendent Gary A. Gilchrist is recognized as ‘The Builder’ from 1999 to 2008. Mr. Gilchrist took on two main charges from the Commissioner of Education: special education services would be provided to students within their home schools and the issues of the condition of the BOCES facilities needed to be addressed. Mr. Gilchrist addressed both issues, and the Regional Education Center located on West Genesee Street Road is the result.
                   Above Adapted from Outline of Remarks, September 29, 2007.
    • William Speck served as District Superintendent from 2008 to 2015. During his time, he cultivated the long tradition of leaders through his commitment to educational success within our community. He continuously met with the New York State Education Department, district leaders and community members to provide quality, cost-effective services and programs, as well as collaborated to promote student achievement.
    • Brian K. Hartwell, Ed.D., has served as the District Superintendent since May 2018. Dr. Hartwell’s goals as leader of Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES include meeting the organization’s responsibility of affording each child world-class learning opportunities and experiences. Dr. Hartwell has brought more than 20 years of educational experience with him, including time spent as a teacher, vice principal, principal, and superintendent.