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September 27, 2016 - 8:35am

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To help expand and extend what Batavia City schools can offer students, a group of community supporters have come together to form the Batavia City School District Foundation, a nonprofit that will raise money within the community to assist with scholarships, grants for innovative classroom initiatives, sports and recognition awards for those who help city schools.

The foundation held its kickoff event last night at Carter's Restaurant.

"In the Batavia City School District, we do a very good job with the budget and the funds we have," said Leslie Johnson, foundation chair. "The tax base is slightly sluggish, but does that impede our progress? Fortunately, no, but it limits where we can go with that as far as what is required and a few steps beyond. We would like to go further."

During opening remarks, Superintendent Chris Dailey said among the opportunities he envisions is the ability for teachers to come up with innovative ideas or discover pieces of equipment that might be useful in the classroom and then, outside of the normal budget cycle, apply for grants to try out those ideas. If they work, then perhaps they can be incorporated into the next budget.

"We want to be on the cutting edge, not the bleeding edge when it comes to innovation," Dailey said. 

With a 95-percent graduation rate and many creative programs and demonstrated success in academics, arts, and athletics, the district is already among the best in the region, Daily said. The foundation and community support can help make it one of the best in the nation, he said.

The foundation will also provide scholarships for students who want to further their education and provide recognition awards for those who provide exceptional aid to the district in fulfilling its mission.

The idea for the foundation started with School Board Chairman Pat Burk many years ago, and he suggested Johnson to Dailey as a champion of the idea. Johnson, Dailey said, turned out to be the perfect choice because she had the vision and the ability to see it through. Dailey said staff member Bobbi Norton was also instrumental in organizing the foundation.

Jim Owen, Batavia's most popular substitute teacher, pictured above with Johnson, was also recognized as one of the honorary chairs because of his early financial support of the foundation.

Johnson said the desire to create a philanthropic foundation for the school district has little to do with constraints on revenue by the property tax cap or any sense of revenue shortage, but a real desire to help fund the gap between how good the district is and how good it can be, and just offer more opportunities for students to grow, learn and achieve.

"We hope to appeal to people who are already spending money philanthropic dollars elsewhere, and we're saying, 'keep it at home where it can really make a difference for these kids,' " Johnson said.

September 24, 2016 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, STEAM, stem, schools, education, news, batavia.

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Fourth-graders at John Kennedy School on Friday were introduced to the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, and Math) curriculum with science demonstrations, and some hands-on experiences, led by Batavia High School science teachers Nathan Korzelius (top photo) and Burton Howell. 

In these photos, Korzelius talks about the properties of lycopodium clavatum, a powder derived from a species of moss. As Korzelius demonstrated, the powder floats on water and if a person sticks his or her hand in, the powder keeps the hand dry. When the powder is concentrated near a flame, it will explode in a flash of flame and lights (side fact: lycoduium was used by early photographers as a flash powder).

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September 17, 2016 - 7:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, schools, education, batavia, news.

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John Kennedy School hosted its annual Community Night on Friday evening.

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September 16, 2016 - 1:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, news, schools, education.

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Campbell Anderson, a senior at Batavia High School, pictured with Principal Scott Wilson, has qualified as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. As far as Wilson knows, he's the only semifinalist in the region and one of only 99 in Western New York.

Anderson is a candidate for West Point and the Air Force Academy. He's also a standout in track and cross-country. Wilson said one of Anderson's unique accomplishments was completing all of the match courses offered by the high school, including advanced placement calculus, by the end of his sophomore year. The school has arranged his senior schedule so he can also take classes at Genesee Community College. He remains at the top of his class.

Photo and info provided by Scott Wilson.

September 12, 2016 - 12:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, news.

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The future, if not the present, of all aspects of work and life is digital and connected, and to help ensure students are ready to keep pace with a fast-changing world, the City School District is investing in the equipment and infrastructure to help kids succeed.

This morning, Batavia High School began handing out Chromebooks to students.

Chromebooks, running a browser-based operating system from Google, will give students instant access to the world, their teachers, and their classmates as well as provide a suite of software tools they can use for research, study and creation. 

"Whether going on to college or the world of work, you have to know how to gather information, analyze it and interpret it and we're going to be able to help our kids do that at a much higher level," said Superintendent Chris Dailey.

The overall experience of using digital devices will make academic life at Batavia HS more like what students will experience in college, so Dailey thinks those students who continue their education will be better prepared.

"By giving kid a college experience at an early age, when they’re going on, whether it’s to the world of work, military or college, they are on par, if not above, everybody else in our region," Dailey said.

The experience begins in elementary school where students have also been assigned Chromebooks and students participate in classes, such as the one that teaches keyboard skills to students at Jackson Elementary using games for lessons and practice.

The Chromebook rollout culminated in the three-year planning an implementation process that included upgrades to the Wi-Fi network at the high school.

Daily praised IT director Jeff McKinney and his staff.

Students will also be able to take classes in repairing the computers, which will give them, Dailey said, another level of understanding about technology as well as better equip them for their future in work or academics. 

The program is being paid for entirely within the school district's regular budgeting process because there are also cost savings associated with it, such as a reduction in costs for laptops and desktops. 

"A traditional history textbook cost more than these devices, so we can now get that history textbook online, plus all the others, for significantly less than before," Dailey said.

Dailey said he's also well aware that the future of work is based on technology and students need to be prepared for that new world, which in many ways has already changed dramatically.

"My father-in-law owns a printing business and where they used to have eight guys running the press, now they have two and both of them are computer literate because they’re running a computer that is running the press," Dailey said. "Computers are changing everything."

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September 8, 2016 - 3:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, schools, education, sports.

Press release:

The Batavia City School District has always been committed to its girls’ athletic program. We are proud of our student athletic program and continuously work toward achieving equality across all sports. This is of paramount importance to the District.

The District has recently received the Court’s decision awarding attorneys’ fees (totaling $68,000) to the Empire Justice Center in the 2013 lawsuit concerning the girls’ softball fields. The District disagrees with, and is disappointed by, the award of attorneys’ fees to the Empire Justice Center. Most importantly, the lawsuit was simply unnecessary – and only served to waste taxpayers’ money.

The improvements to the girls’ softball field were already approved by the Board before the lawsuit was filed, and they were commenced immediately upon taxpayer approval of the funding. The changes would have been made regardless whether the lawsuit was filed. This was conveyed to the Empire Justice Center, but their attorneys chose to proceed with the lawsuit – and generating unnecessary legal fees for their organization – anyway.

In the end, the Empire Justice Center achieved almost nothing outside this award of fees. There were no substantial differences between the settlement and the capital improvement plans that the Board of Education proposed and approved at its February 2013 meeting for presentation to the voters in May 2013. In addition to routine maintenance, there was only one additional improvement requested in over and above the capital improvement project – the addition of a safety cap to the track and field fence that is adjacent to the no longer used JV softball field.

The District looks forward to continuing to provide a safe and nurturing environment to develop students with high moral character who are able to meet life’s challenges. 

September 8, 2016 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia MS, batavia, City Schools, news, education, schools.

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It's the first day of school, but not just for students, but for some staff, too, including Batavia Middle School's new principal, Ashley John Grillo.

Grillo, originally from Albion, was most recently assistant principal at Holley Central School and was appointed to his new role this Spring.

He said he's very excited by the prospects of his new position.

“Fortunately, I’ve got a great team I’m working  with; the staff I’ve met so far have been wonderful," Grillo said.  "They’ve been very welcoming, very helpful. I’m very excited about this year. I only see nothing but positive things happening."

Grillo said he also received a warm welcome from the student's this morning.

"It’s been a blast," Grillo said. "I’ve been shaking hands all morning with kids and saying hi and introducing myself, and they’ve been coming to me, too, so it’s been nice."

September 1, 2016 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, schools, education.

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Pembroke Junior/Senior High School unveiled a new logo and new sign in a brief ceremony Wednesday evening.

The new logo was designed by Matt Steinburg, a 1991 graduate of Pembroke who now lives in Corfu with his wife, Anne, and son, Benjamin. He is creative director for Visit Buffalo and won the new logo contest. Matt also created a custom font for "Pembroke." He estimated he put in more than 100 hours of volunteer time into the effort.

August 10, 2016 - 11:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, schools, education, Milestones.

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Press release:

Batavia High School graduates Ryan Dibble and Jonathan Barber each earned a Batavia City Schools Custodial Association and Gui’s Lumber Scholarship.  Both received a $750 gift certificate for Gui’s Lumber to go toward the tools and materials they will need to start college this September. Both are attending Alfred State College – Ryan is in the Heavy Equipment, Truck, and Diesel Technician program, and Jonathan is in the Building Trades: Building Construction program. The BCSD Custodial Association began the tradition in 2002 of providing scholarships to deserving seniors who are pursuing studies in a skilled trade, and was joined by Gui’s Lumber in Batavia a few years later.

“We want to do something to enhance students’ careers and help them advance in their chosen field,” explained John Suttell of the Custodial Association.

Pictured left to right are Gui’s Lumber manager Scot Monachino, scholarship recipients Ryan Dibble and Jonathan Barber, and BCSD Custodial Association representative John Suttell.

August 8, 2016 - 10:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, schools, education, batavia, news.

Press release:

The Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Program provides an opportunity for 4-year-old children, at no cost to their families, to be involved in developmentally appropriate educational classes that, following the school calendar, meet Monday through Friday during the regular school year.

In the Batavia City School District, the program is offered mornings and afternoons at Jackson Primary as well as mornings at two community satellite locations: the YMCA Preschool and Imagination Station Childcare and Preschool. Transportation is also available.

In addition, for a fee, the YMCA and Imagination Station offer “wrap around” child care programs for those who desire it. (Please note that the District will make every attempt to accommodate, but cannot guarantee, requests for placement in a specific location.)

Children who are residents of Batavia City School District and who are four (4) years of age on or before Dec. 1, 2016, are eligible.

Information/Registration packets, including the application, are available at the District Business Office in the administrative wing of Batavia High School (260 State St.), or by calling 343-2480, ext. 1002. They can also be downloaded from the District’s website (www.bataviacsd.org) by using the pull-down menu at the top of the page labeled “Parent,” or the Quick Link labeled “Parent Resources,” then clicking on the link for Universal Pre-K.

The application should be returned as soon as possible. 

August 2, 2016 - 1:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

Press release:

The NYS Office of the Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability recently completed a routine audit of the District’s finances to review efficiency and accountability. Looking at the period of July 1, 2012, through March 10, 2016, we are pleased to report that the audit revealed no weaknesses in internal controls, policies, practices, procedures and operations.

As a result, there no findings of fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct, or negligence.

The audit did cite one area of concern: a claim that the District did not effectively manage fund balance, which is the residual money accumulated from prior fiscal years that can be reserved for future expenditures or emergencies. When fund balances are accumulated for a targeted and specific purpose, such as saving for a capital project or an anticipated increase in retirement costs, the law specifies that the amount in these restricted funds must be “reasonable” as opposed to excessive. When a fund balance is categorized as unrestricted (containing monies not targeted for a specific upcoming expense), it must be used to lower property taxes if the amount exceeds 4 percent of the proposed budget for the coming year.

The Comptroller’s Office concluded in its most recent report that the District has too much money reserved in fund balance and debt service reserves.

Ironically, this speaks to one of the practices that the Board of Education and administration feel has been one of its greatest strengths – planning and preparing for the future, whether that be enhancing programming or facing unforeseen expenditures as we have seen in recent years with the pullback of New York State funding and the unstable financial picture.

Our philosophy has enabled the District to weather numerous constraints placed by State and federal laws, regulations, and mandates, as well as the significant unpredictability and fluctuations in both expenses and aid. While weathering these financial storms, the District has continued to deliver exceptional educational programs to our students at a per-pupil cost significantly lower than the State average, maintained a stable tax levy history for over 10 years that frequently has decreased or remained flat (with a 10-year average increase of 0.68 percent), consistently remained under the Tax Cap permissible by New York State, and, by prudent planning, earned State tax rebates for our residents for the three years that has been enacted.

Interestingly, our tax rates have decreased over the years (from 2006-07 at $24.22 per thousand of assessed valuation to $23.02 per thousand of assessed valuation in 2015-16). To analyze taxpayer impact, we conducted a study of an individual taxpayer in the District currently (in 2015-16) assessed at $106,000. The study revealed that, since the 2004-05 fiscal year (base year), the school taxes paid increased a total of $129.95, or 8.49 percent, which is an average of $11.81 or 0.77 percent a year -- amounting to less than $1 a month.

Outside of the District’s control, the taxpayer’s assessed valuation increased from $98,000 to $106,000 in 2008-09 (or an 8.16 percent change). In essence, the increase in school taxes is attributable to the increase in assessed value. Also noteworthy is that this overall increase in school taxes does not include the two rebate checks that the taxpayer received directly from NYS in 2014-15 and 2015-16 as a result of the District compliance with the Tax Cap and with efficiency established since July 1, 2012.

The Comptroller’s Office has recommended several strategies, and the District is in the process of evaluating these recommendations while remaining mindful that changes in practice must not result in significant fluctuations that will potentially harm the community in the long run nor leave taxpayers unprotected from fluctuations in the tax levy due to factors outside its control.

The report noted the belief that, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, the District had overestimated appropriations in budget projections and recommended that the District be more “realistic” as well as use more of the fund balance and reserves for the budget. First, we would clarify that this year’s pre-audited surplus is only $189,600 above the 4-percent maximum, and regarded by the Comptroller’s Office standards as a "good" budgeting process with realistic estimates.

In addition, we would like to highlight that the first couple years of the audit were the years immediately following the consolidation. Not knowing the full impact on major budgetary expenditures, such as transportation, resulted in conservative budgets in these areas. The budgeting practices have been modified, implemented, and are reflected in the 2015-16 budget results.

The District also points out that, in addition to utilizing internal staff’s expertise in analysis and projections, they also rely each year on the input from community budget ambassadors who review the budget proposals line-by-line and provide valuable feedback on the educational programs and potential modifications to the proposed budget for the Board to consider.

Regarding fluctuations in State aid, it is important to note that NYS has a history of reducing its aid to school districts. Most recently this resulted six years of reductions and, in essence, shifted the burden funding the budget to the local taxpayer if a district chose not to make changes and maintained the status quo. The District made tough decisions and changes, most markedly consolidation, and complied with the NYS Tax Cap (well before it was implemented) while receiving a cuts in State aid during these years.

Likewise, the Comptroller’s recommendation to review all reserves to determine if the amounts reserved are necessary and reasonable has been a regular part of the District’s annual budget process. In fact, one such fund, the Tax Certiorari reserve, is slated to be eliminated pending Board approval at its next summer meeting, and the Unemployment Insurance reserve is being significantly reduced. On the other hand, based on factors previously mentioned, the District’s practice is to budget conservatively for a worst-case scenario in order to protect the educational program for our students and to avoid crisis tax increases for our residents.

While there is no concrete regulation on funding amounts or limits (other than “reasonable”) on some restricted reserves, the District plans to continue its practice of periodically evaluating the reserves according to what is believed to be reasonable by District officials.

As for the Debt Service fund, which has operated as such for twenty-plus years without raising any concerns in audits, the District has reduced the balances by nearly $3 million since 2009 and has accounted for all current obligations in this Fund. In 2015, the citizens authorized a $7.5 million capital reserve fund to offset the local share of future projects beginning with the 2013 capital project.

The District will also research the current accounting method for the financing of prior capital projects. It is also important to note that Note 3 in the Comptroller’s response is incorrect. The District has always recorded transactions related to capital projects in the Capital Project fund. The accounting for long-term financing of the projects (Serial Bond principal and interest payments), along with annual revenue received (State aid, transfer from General Fund and interest earning) are the concerns cited in the audit raising the question of whether they should be recorded in General Fund or Debt Service Fund. The District will evaluate the law regarding these concerns during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

In addition, the District felt that the audit did not capture several positive initiatives, which are worthy of mention:

1. The District consolidated and restructured its educational plan in July 2012. One building was later sold and the other building is being used for some district offices along with being leased to generate additional annual revenue which results in tax levy savings. District vacant land was also sold.

2. The District partnered with the City of Batavia to approve three exemptions (Home Improvement Exemption; Mixed-Use Exemption and Inhibited Property Exemption).

3. After receiving community input, the Board approved the Alternative Veterans’ Tax Exemption.

4. The District refunded Serial Bonds in 2012 which resulted in $764,814 net present value savings.

5. Debt as a percent of the General Fund budget has been reduced from 101.87 percent as of June 30, 2008, to 39.19 percent as of June 30, 2016.

6. Taxpayers this year will be receiving their third (out of three opportunities) rebate check directly from New York State as a result of District compliance with the New York State Tax Cap law and efficiencies undertaken since July 2012.

7. In the five years since the New York State Tax Cap, the District tax levy has increased an average of 0.80 percent, while the allowable increase was 3.15 percent. In dollars, this amounted to a $2,146,484 total tax levy less than allowed. Also, three of the last four years (through 2016-17), have had no increase of the tax levy and the average increase is less than 0.50 percent. As previously mentioned, the 10-year average tax levy (five years prior to the 2012 Tax Cap law) is 0.68 percent.

8. From  fiscal years 2007-2008 to 2014-15, General Fund Payroll decreased 2.2 percent, from $20,701,103 to $20,248,248. In 2015-16, payroll was $20,324,816 --an increase of only 0.38 percent over the previous year. Each year since 2007-08, payroll was less than the 2007-08 base year. Savings in payroll have been achieved via strong negotiation strategies and District consolidation.

9. Contracts with all of our bargaining units (Administration, Teacher, Clerical, Custodial, Food Service and individual contracts) were negotiated two different times during the period audited resulting in significant cost savings to the District on employee healthcare contributions.

10. The Batavia City School District survived the 2010-11 to 2015-16 Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) which resulted in a loss of $8,649,980 of New York State aid during those six years. The single highest year of reduction was $2,570,826 and the average State aid cut was $1,441,663. It is also important to note that, from 1990-91 to 1992-93 (three years), New York State also reduced funding to school districts, the first being a mid-year cut. In this 26 year time span, New York State has cut its aid for public schools nine years, or 34 percent of the time. New York State must look into and fix the politics of the New York State public school funding.

11. Since 2010-11, the District has also absorbed $1,704,152 in corrections (current year reduction in State aid) to New York State building aid. These reductions, which were in addition to the GEA previously mentioned, were a result of New York State overpayment of building aid over many years.

12. Since June 30, 2003, all Independent External audits and New York State Comptroller audits are available to our public on the District website in an attempt to enhance transparency.

13. Moody’s has the District rated as A1 which is slightly lower than the median rating of Aa3 for school districts nationwide. According to Moody’s, the financial position of the District is strong and is a notable strength with respect to the assigned rating of A1; the economy and tax base of the District are solid overall and positive operating margins are a component of strong financial management (surplus being generated and the tax base expanded modestly).

While the opinions of the Comptroller’s Office and recommendations of the audit are valued, appreciated, and will be utilized to further enhance District budgeting practices, the Batavia City School District and the Board of Education will not abandon our philosophy and belief that our residents expect and prefer a stable, consistent, and predictable tax rate while incorporating an effective long-range financial plan.

We will use this report and incorporate recommendations that align with our philosophy and long-range planning strategy. It is also important to note that the Comptroller recently released an analysis of State spending that shows the potential for budget gaps in future years - shortfalls that could reach nearly $5 billion beginning in the State fiscal year 2017-18. This could invariably directly impact schools again just as the Gap Elimination Adjustment did when the State had significant budget deficits only a few years ago.

The Board will be careful regarding the choices that are made today to ensure that they don’t put the District in a bad financial position in future years.

July 27, 2016 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, sports, news.

Student athletes deserve every opportunity to be successful, said Batavia High School Athletic Director Micheal Bromley at Tuesday evening's Batavia City Schools board meeting, which is why the district needs a tighter tardy policy for those students participating in school sports.

About 54 percent of Batavia's students are involved in athletics during at least one season of the school year, so a stronger tardy policy will have a positive impact on academics overall, Bromley said. 

"We want our students to be successful," Bromley said. "To be successful, they need to be in school."

The proposed policy will require student athletes to be on time for their first class of the day. If they're even five minutes late, it's a tardy. They get two freebie tardies during the season. A third tardy means they can't participate in the next practice or athletic event.

Currently, there are no consequences if the student arrives by at least 11 a.m., which means they miss the first two blocks of classes.

There were seniors this year, Bromley said, who were in danger of not meeting academic standards for graduation.

Bromley thinks the change this fall will be a big adjustment for students and their parents. He expects some push back but wants to deliver the message that this policy will help students and their teams succeed.

"We want you to be here," Bromley said he would tell the students. "We want you to represent our school. It's a great honor. With that comes responsibility. Athletics teaches life skills and life skills include being on time, being responsible, being respectful to your coach and your teammates by doing the right things."

The need for a policy change arose, Bromley said, because of frustrations expressed by coaches and teachers.

Many teachers questioned how students could represent the school in athletic events while not showing up regularly to classes, he said.

"We're not trying to be mean here," Bromley said. "We just want people to be here. Teachers are very frustrated when students don't show up for the first block of the day."

School board members responded favorably to the new policy, which was crafted by a committee of school officials who looked at policies from several area school districts before crafting the one presented to the board.

The policy is intended to be both stricter than what exists now, but also flexible. The two freebie tardies recognize that things happen -- cars break down, assignments are forgotten at home and need to be retrieved, family members get sick and hold things up, etc., but student-athletes also need to be held accountable if they want to faithfully represent the community in competition.

The policy will be evaluated during the fall, comparing this fall's data with data from previous fall seasons to see if tardiness is reduced and attendance is improved. If the policy works and is refined, it could be rolled out to cover students participating in other extracurricular activities.

Policy summary:

  • Student athletes will get two free tardies each sports season, fall, winter and spring.
  • A third tardy will result in the student not being allowed to participate in his or her team's next athletic event, be it practice or game.
  • A tardy can be excused by a doctor's note; parental notes will not be accepted as an excuse.
  • The tardy clock begins as soon as the bell rings for the first class of the day.
July 13, 2016 - 6:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, sports, schools.

leroyad_dean2016.jpgA Western New York native is returning to the area to become the new athletic director at Le Roy High School.

The school board approved the appointment of Jennifer Dean to the position at its meeting Tuesday night.

Dean is a graduate of Cuba-Rushford, where she was a three-sport athlete. She majored in physical education at St. Bonaventure University and is certified in Physical Education by the NYS State Board of Education.

Most recently, Dean was with the Hamilton Central School District in Central New York, where she was a secondary Physical Education teacher as well as a coach for basketball, soccer, softball, track and field and field hockey.

In 2011, she was appointed to the AD's position and under her leadership the soccer team on a state champion and the school won four sectional titles as well as numerous individual track and field sectional and state titles. 

She was seeking a position closer to friends and family and is residing in Dale.

Dean replaces Jon Wilson, who is now the elementary school principal in Pavilion.

July 1, 2016 - 8:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

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Patrick Burk, right, will continue to serve as school board president during the 2016-17 year, and Jessica Maguire-Tomidy will serve as VP. Madison Moore, left, is the student, ex-officio member for the year.

The district board held its annual meeting this morning at the district office. The meeting included approving the board calendar, appointment of committees and appointment of key district staff. Chris Dailey was reappointed as district superintendent.

June 27, 2016 - 11:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, news.

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A graduating class of 164 students received their diplomas from Batavia High School yesterday in a ceremony held at Genesee Community College.

Superintendent Chris Dailey said 74 percent of the class is pursuing higher education, including 41 going directly to four-year schools, 80 to community colleges and 31 students are entering the workforce already with jobs, plus seven students are going into the military.

"That is college and career ready," Dailey said.

Of the 164 graduates, 142 are receiving regents diplomas.

"For a small city school, that's outstanding," Dailey said. "We'll put that up against anywhere else in New York State."

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Burton Howell, a science teacher at BHS for 28 years, delivered the keynote speech, emphasizing the tough love students got as they made their way through their educational  journey.  Starting on Sunday, they are no longer subject to the rules and discipline of school, but the rules and laws of society, subject to due process.  It's up to them, he said, to make the right decisions through the rest of their lives. He spoke about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. You can know an object's position, or you can know it's velocity and direction. If you know an object's position, you don't know where it's going or how fast.  He told the students that we know where you are now, but we don't know where you're going.  That's up to each student to decide.

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Valedictorian Alexis Vasciannie noted that the Class of 2016 was an accomplished class, with success in academics, the arts and athletics. She challenged students to enter life now and find their own paths to success.

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Salutatorian Ross Chua closed his speech by singing an original song. Chua, named Mr. Batavia earlier in the year, also participated in the Genesee Symphony Orchestra's performance of his own composition; he plans to attend Syracuse University. His goal is write a symphony that will be performed by a major, world-renowned symphony, or write the scores for major motion pictures. These are big dreams, he confessed, but he would be equally happy if someday he owned a music store, because there he might sell a first instrument to a future top-40 recording artist or the shoes to a future prima ballerina. Those accomplishments would change the world. He reminded his fellow graduates that even the small things they do in life will have a big impact on the world. They should go out and try to make a difference. 

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Chua received the Quincy Jones Award for his musical accomplishments at the school. Awards and scholarships were handed out to more than a dozen students.

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Kayla Burns receives her diploma from Dailey.

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Malachi Chenault is congratulated after receiving his diploma. 

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Zach Lee celebrates graduation while waiting his turn to receive his diploma. 

To purchase prints, click here.

June 24, 2016 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, batavia, City Schools.

There is an allocation of $2.1 million available for Batavia City Schools for technology upgrades, according to a state official who contacted The Batavian on Thursday about a previous story on local Smart Schools grants.

"As soon as the district is ready to submit a plan, the money is their for them," said Morris Peters, public information officer for New York State Division of the Budget.

Superintendent Chris Dailey confirmed the district intends to file a plan in the fall.

"There is no time limit on the money so it does not need to be spent immediately," Dailey said. "We plan to use the remainder to replace devices down the road (2-3 years) as part of our replacement cycle."

The district didn't receive an allocation as part of grant announcements in May, and Dailey said previously, the district decided not to file its plan prior to the June allocation deadline.

Instead, the district used current available funds for its immediate purchases, and made those purchases through BOCES.

Peters said the state had asked the city school district to make changes to its May plan submission, which is why there wasn't an allocation of grant money at that time.

CLARIFICATIONS: We need to include the fact that the district will be upgrading the security camera systems by the fall.

The district submitted its first plan March 29. Corrections were requested April 4 and submitted that same time. This district did not receive funding in May and a minor correction was requested for the next funding round in June. At that time, the district decided to go forward with its own funding and BOCES because the state committee would not meet in time for the district to move forward and meet its own Sept. 1 deadline for implementation.

"If they had met in late April/early May, we would have been OK for ordering," Dailey said. "They did not meet until after our last available date to meet our needs for the fall." 

June 22, 2016 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools, schools, education, oakfield-alabamp, news.

The Batavia City School District remains committed to providing students and staff the best technology to advance the district's educational goals, said Superintendent Chris Dailey, even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office decided to bypass the district technology grants as part of the governor's Smart Schools Bond Act.

The state is funding school districts throughout the state -- including Oakfield-Alabama, locally -- with a $2 billion bond for technology upgrades and Batavia did not receive funding in May.

The state just announced the release of another $43 million in funding for June, but BCSD did not apply, Dailey said, after being overlooked in May, deciding instead to use current available funds and make its purchases through BOCES to help reduce costs.

"Technology impacts all aspects of education and life," Dailey said. "We want our students to have the same access to the world as any of the more affluent NYS communities have. They will have access to the world and information like never before in Batavia. Technology will enhance the excellent education our staff provide our students. Our students will be better prepared to go into the world of work or college based on the commitment we are making."

Last month, the governor's office announced that O-A would receive $664,680 for its districtwide upgrades.

The school districts are planning increased Wi-Fi coverage at school facilities, laptops or tablet computers for all students, 3D printers, touchscreen monitors for classrooms and lesson materials.

No Genesee County school district was part of the June funding announcement. Another announcement of fund distribution is expected in July.

Previously:

June 4, 2016 - 8:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, batavia, schools, news.

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John Kennedy School hosted its annual Sons and Mothers Mud Run yesterday, with new obstacles, a DJ and a visit by the city fire department.

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May 23, 2016 - 11:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in le roy hs, Le Roy, schools, education, news.

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Sebastian Maroundit, a Sudanese Lost Boy who came to the United States as a refugee, spoke with students at Le Roy High School this morning.  

He is the cofounder of Building Minds in South Sudan along with his cousin Mathon Noi.

This was the school's final PRIDE assembly of the year.

Born in the rural Village of Mayen-Abun in Twic County, South Sudan, cousins Sebastian Maroundit and Mathon Noi were less than 10 years old when war came to their village and separated them from their families. They escaped to Ethiopia only to experience war again within four years. In 1991, they escaped from Ethiopia and spent a year walking across the hot desert to a refugee camp in Kenya. In this camp, both were educated through the eighth grade. In 2001, Sebastian and Mathon were selected as two of the 3,800 who would resettle in the United States. Mathon recently graduated from Niagara University majoring in Accounting, while Sebastian is pursuing his Business Degree.  

In the summer of 2007, they both returned to their village. Though Sebastian lost his father during the war and Mathon lost his mother, they were reunited with their surviving parents after 18 years apart. They were dismayed to find their village in poor condition, with no roads or clean water. The children of the village were being taught under a large tree, because the school had been destroyed.

Since that visit, they have been passionately committed to helping rebuild hope in their village by building a school to provide a basic education for the children. Their efforts have raised thousands of dollars through BMISS and built a new school that now serves more than 800 children. They have begun to build a second, eight-room all-girls school in Majok Keen, four miles from the Ajong Primary School. Three hundred girls are already signed up and it is projected that it will also house 800 girls.

The school's Rotary Interact Student Club organized the event and also made a donation to the BMISS at the end of the event. The Interact students will sell paper bricks the rest of the week in lunches to students or staff for $1 to raise more money to give to the organization. The sold bricks will be hung as a visual reminder about the support.

Photos and info submitted by Principal Tim McArdle.

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May 23, 2016 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Joe's School, batavia, schools, education, animals, pets, news.

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Students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades of the Saint Joseph School in Batavia, all members of the National Junior Honor Society, collected useful items and monetary contributions for the PAWS Animal Shelter in Albion over the course of two weeks. All SJS students and their families donated pet items, pet food, cleaning supplies, and money to the fundraiser. Friday, the NJHS members delivered more than 300 items and $150 to PAWS.

Info and photo submitted by Alicia Palmer.

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