Opinion 2005 - 9


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS -- Central High School Districts (training requirement for board members)

EDUCATION LAW §§1901, 1914, 2102-a: A board member of a central high school district who is also an elected member of a component school district of the central high school district must take the training required by section 2102-a of the Education Law if he or she was elected to the component school district board prior to July 1, 2005, but was appointed or reappointed to the central high school board after that date. The training must be taken within the first year of the individual’s current term on the central high school board. The individual would not be required to repeat the training taken as a member of the central high school board if he or she is elected to another term as member of the board of the component district.

You ask whether a board member of a central high school district, who is also an elected member of the board of a component district of the central high school district, must take the training required by section 2102-a of the Education Law if he or she was elected to the component board prior to July 1, 2005, but was appointed or reappointed to the central high school board after that date.

Section 2102-a of the Education Law, added by chapter 263 of the Laws of 2005, provides that every trustee or voting member of a “board of education” of a school district or a BOCES who is elected or appointed for a term beginning on or after July 1, 2005, must, within the first year of his or her term, complete a minimum of six hours of training on the financial oversight, accountability and fiduciary responsibilities of a school board member (Education Law §2102-a[1]).1 Each trustee or board member must demonstrate compliance with the training requirement by filing with the district clerk a certificate of completion of the course issued by the provider (Education Law §2102-a[3]). Upon demonstration of compliance, no trustee or board member is required to repeat the training (Education Law §2102-a[1]). The term “board of education” is defined for purposes of section 2102-a to include the governing body charged with the general control, management and responsibility of the schools of, among other types of school districts, central high school districts (Education Law §2[14]).

Education Law §§1901 and 1914 provide for members of the governing board of central high school districts to be from the school districts that are within the central high school district (the “component districts”).2 The board of education of a union free or central component district appoints the persons to represent those districts on the central high school district board. In a common district having a sole trustee, the sole trustee represents the common district on the central district board, and in a common district having three trustees, the board of trustees of the common district designates one of its members as a member of the central high school district board. There is no definite term of
officespecified in sections 1901 and 1914 for members of a board of a central high school district appointed by a component school district (see Decision No. 13,534, 35 Ed Dept Rep 257).3

Although the term of office of the individual in question as board member of the component district commenced before the statutory date that triggers the training requirement, his or her term as a member of the central high school district commenced after that date. Therefore, based on the express provisions of section 2102-a, since this individual has been appointed or reappointed to the central high school board for a new term beginning on or after July 1, 2005, he or she is required to take the training within the first year of his or her current term on the central high school board.

In reaching this conclusion, we are mindful that, in order to avoid duplicate training, section 2102-a(1) provides that “[n]othing in this section shall be deemed to require a member of a central high school district board … to complete [the training] requirement if such member has already completed such requirement as a member of a board of a component district” (emphasis added). Since the individual here has not taken the training as a member of the board of the component district, the above-quoted provision does not apply to the instant situation. We note, however, that since section 2102-a also provides that, upon demonstration of compliance, no trustee or board member is required to repeat the required training, and since the clear intent of section 2102-a is avoid duplicate training, the individual, in our opinion, would not be required to repeat the training taken as a member of the central high school board if he or she is elected to another term as member of the board of the component district.

Accordingly, a board member of a central high school district who is also an elected member of a component school district of the central high school district must take the training required by section 2102-a of the Education Law if he or she was elected to the component school district board prior to July 1, 2005, but was appointed or reappointed to the central high school board after that date. The training must be taken within the first year of the individual’s current term on the central high school board. The individual would not be required to repeat the training taken as a member of the central high school board if he or she is elected to another term as member of the board of the component district.

December 6, 2005

Douglas E. Libby, Esq., Counsel
Sewanhaka Central High School District

1 Education Law §2102-a(2) provides that the curriculum used for the training must be approved by the Commissioner of Education in consultation with the State Comptroller. The curriculum may be offered as part of a general course of training for the purpose of educating trustees or board members on their powers, functions and duties. The training may be offered by providers approved by the Commissioner of Education. In approving other providers for the training, the Commissioner must consider certain factors listed in section 2102-a(2).

2 The union free, central or common school districts within the central high school districts are commonly referred to as the “component districts” (see, e.g., Union Free School District No. 22 v Wilson, 281 AD 419, 120 NYS2d 483; Chisena v Central High School District, 136 NYS2d 598; Decision No. 13,534, 35 Ed Dept Rep 257; Education Law §§1906, 1914, 1917, 1917-a[2]).

3 Sections 1901 and 1914 provide that the persons designated to serve on the central high school district board by a component district “shall be members of the board of education of the central high school district during their terms of office as members of the board of education or as trustees of the [component] districts respectively represented by them”. The Commissioner of Education has interpreted the quoted language to mean that a member of a central high school board must be concurrently a member of a component board, at least for the time he or she is a member of the central high school board (Decision No. 13,534, 35 Ed Dept Rep 257, supra). The Commissioner further decided, however, that, as a matter of law, an individual does not necessarily remain on the central high school district board during his or her entire tenure on the component district board (id.). Therefore, based on this Decision, it is possible, as in the instant situation, for an individual to have his or her term as a member of a central high school district commence after July 1, 2005, even though his or her current term as a member of the component district commenced prior to that date.