A Brief History
It all began on September 9, 1948 when a group of 40 people met to discuss the new intermediate district legislation. On that date the second BOCES in the state became a reality. Five newly elected board members joined District Superintendent Robert E. Bell in the venture.
During the first years, a guidance counselor acted as the director of this new education agency. Initially, 13 itinerant teachers were hired to serve in the areas of art, dental hygiene, remedial reading, psychology, guidance and physical education. The sharing concept was now being carried out in several districts in Northern Westchester. Additional personnel were later added such as a nurse, librarian, and teachers of the handicapped, driver education, speech correction and vision until, in 1956, there were 44 shared professional staff members.
In 1952, the guidance center became a separate service category and opened a center in Katonah. It offered testing and counseling to 10 schools.
As of 1958, the upper Westchester BOCES offered the following services: itinerant teacher program, 10 special education classes for 115 students, guidance center servicing 975 youngsters, college conference and psychiatric consultant service.
Putnam BOCES began its operation in 1957. As of 1964, it employed 35 full-time and part-time staff members and offered services in data processing, speech correction, psychology and pupil personnel, as well as vocational courses in auto mechanics, beauty culture and buildings trades. Prior to the 1967 opening of the Putnam Tech Center buildings in Carmel, 220 vocational students were learning their trades in four different locations in Mahopac and Carmel. Now students and programs were consolidated on one campus.
In Northern Westchester, the vocational program began in 1958 when nine students took courses in Valhalla. In 1962, the vocational education school was establish in Yorktown as was the Center for Educational Services and Research and the data processing center. In 1968, the special education students was initiated in that year.
The next year, Putnam and Northern Westchester BOCES merged. Voters also had an opportunity to cast their ballots regarding building the 240-acre campus in Yorktown Heights. Special education classes were held in 20 different buildings in upper Westchester. Films and other materials were delivered to various districts. A 3,000 student college conference was held. High school seminars in areas such as film making, critical issues and meteorology were offered for the first time.
In the 1970's, many new programs were initiated to serve local school districts in the Putnam | Northern Westchester region. Before the opening of the Yorktown Heights campus, Tech Center programs were held in three different areas: Fox Meadow campus in Yorktown, Putnam Center in Carmel, and Triangle Shopping Center in Yorktown Heights. Vocational programs were offered in eight occupational areas in 1970, including secretarial, data processing, auto technology, electricity, graphic arts, heating/air conditioning, constrcution technology and machine industries. An adult education program was initiated in 1970 and a partnership formed with Westchester Community college. Today the program serves more than 5,000 adults each year.
In 1971, the Madden Outdoor Education Center in Kent was donated to BOCES to provide a natural setting for outdoor activities. This 120-acre center now serves 9,000 students each year in various outdoor and environmental education programs, a popular challenge course and team building program, overnight programs, as well as an extensive summer camp program.
The early 1970's saw the addition of cosmetology and culinary arts programs and receipt of federal grants for such projects as environmental education. In the mid and late 70's, more districts asked for additional programs to be offered on a shared basis and BOCES responded by starting a preschool program for handicapped younsters, French Hill Learning Center for students with emotional problems, and a New Options program for those wanting to obtain a high school equivalency diploma. Programs for the gifted, such as the Studio Arts Companyand Performing Arts Group, were added , along with the gifted mentor program, elementary science, alternative high school, communication disorder/hearing impaired programs and The Bridge program for older special needs students. Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES will continue to grow and change according to the needs of its 18 local school districts.