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August 9, 2017 - 10:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, news, batavia, City Schools.

It's been a busy summer in the Batavia City School District, with new teachers and aides being hired, planning for the capital improvement project, custodial staff getting buildings and grounds ready for a new school year, and a search for a new principal for the high school. And after all that, Superintendent Chris Dailey said he just can't wait for the school year to start Sept. 7.

"What I'm really excited about is our kids are starting to come back into school," Dailey said. "It's too quiet in July. Yes, we've had summer school here but it will be nice to have all our kids back soon. We're really excited to get everybody back."

One of the big pending tasks is replacing Scott Wilson as principal of Batavia High School.

Wilson left to become principal in Gates-Chili, where he taught for 13 years. He's maintained a residence just a block-and-a-half from the school.

"He took an opportunity to go back home where he where he started, so that gives us another opportunity to her great educator here at the high school," Dailey said.

The application deadline is Aug. 16 and there's been a lot of interest in the job, Dailey said.

"We've had a flurry of applications in the last week and we're expecting between 30 and 40 candidates," Dailey said. "We will thoroughly vet them, get down to one or two to share with the faculty for opening days and then hopefully have someone in place before September when students come back."

There will also be a new principal at Jackson Primary School this fall, with Kia Evans taking over for Diane Bonarigo. Bonarigo, who retired, is filling in as the interim principal at the high school until a replacement for Wilson is hired.

Fall sports teams start practice on Monday and teachers are already starting to prep their classrooms.  

Students and parents won't see many changes at the schools, other than a lot of new faces among faculty and staff.

"We've had some amazing additions to our faculty," Dailey said. "The impact that will have on our kids is going to be amazing. At the end of this month, we have new teacher orientation and I'm just really excited to get these people involved with our kids."

August 8, 2017 - 3:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, batavia.

Press release:

Each year, every student wishing to receive busing to school by Student Transportation of America (STA) must file a new Transportation Request/Change Form with the District Business Office so that routes can be configured.  The form was mailed to all students who received transportation from STA last year but, to date, only 241 of those 1053 forms have been returned to the Business Office. Those 241 families have been called, so anyone who has not received a call from the Business Office confirming transportation still needs to send in the form. Regardless of eligibility, children will not be able to receive transportation services unless a 2017-2018 form is turned in. 

Routes will be established by mid-August, so a Transportation Request/Change Form for each student is needed by this Thursday, August 10, 2017. Forms are available several places: online at www.bataviacsd.org under Business Office/Transportation, at the Business Office in the Administrative wing at Batavia High School, at each school’s main office, or by contacting the Business Office at 343-2480 x 1002. They can be mailed or brought in to Kelly Snyder in the District Business Office, Batavia City School District, 260 State Street. Late transportation requests are accepted and will be processed as time allows, but that could be after the start of school.

Exceptions:

Children who were transported by Attica Bus Service in 2016-2017, and have been recommended for transportion by Attica Bus Service for the 2017-2018 school year, should disregard this message.

New enrollments for 2017-2018 including Universal Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and transfers, should disregard this message as transportation requests were handled during registration.

Eligibility Guidelines:

Jackson Primary School (Pre-K, K and Grade 1)

Busing is provided for all students whose families request it.

John Kennedy Intermediate (Grades 2,3,4)

Busing is provided for all students who live more than 0.50 mile from school, or who live outside the City limits.

Middle School (Grades 5,6,7,8)

Busing is provided for all students who live more than 1.00 mile from school, or who live outside the City limits.

High School (Grades 9,10,11,12)

Busing is provided for all students who live more than 1.50 miles from school, or who live outside the City limits.

July 19, 2017 - 12:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, City Schools, schools, education, notify.

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Seniors at Batavia High School this year will not only be afforded the privilege of reserved parking spaces in the student lot, they will be able to paint their designated spot with just about any design they like.

Overall, board members for the City School District loved the idea, presented by the executive council of the Class of 2018, but requested some modifications from the original idea before approving it.

"With a personalized parking spot, the students are able to reserve their spots and then express their individuality, which is really meaningful as maturing young adults," said student Mikey Lullo.

The students said there would be three options for students. The first costs the student nothing -- they get an assigned spot that will remain black asphalt throughout the year. The second option allows them to reserve a spot for $10, but they can't personalize it. The sweet spot, painted and personalized, would be $15.

The project is a fundraiser for the Class of 2018.

The original proposal would make all options available to all students who drive to school and students paying $15 would be able to select three possible spots, which would then be assigned randomly from those choices.

Because it's the first year, the board thought painted spots should be reserved for seniors and all spots should be selected at random.

"I love this kind of stuff," Board Member Peter Cecere said. "I think the finished product looks amazing."

Then he raised concerns about how slots would be selected.

"While I'd like to give everybody at least one of their top three choices, that's just not going to work," Cecere said. "Inevitably you're going to have a kid complaining because 'hey this kid's got this and I paid the same amount of money.' "

Trustee Shawna Murphy wondered if the privilege might be tied to academic performance or attendance, but the feeling was that would add another level of complication. She also expressed concern that in this climate, the painted slots would look dingy over the course of the year.

The students said they researched schools in similar climates and found with the right paint, it hasn't been a problem. They also said the paint acts as a sealant, which helps protect the surface of the parking lot.

At the end of the year, the students would be responsible for painting over, with black paint, the customized student spots.

While students who wish to personalize parking spots must get a sketch approved by school administrators, the council said they will also help watch over the parking lot.

Cecere expressed concern about vandalism and bullying associated with customized slots. The students hope security cameras and their vigilance will help tap down these issues.

"We're going to be there and we take it upon ourselves to monitor everything, us being the executive council," said Lauren Leone. "We are there to check everyone's paint and make sure it's being respectful."

Murphy asked how the council knew this was something they knew their fellow students wanted.

Lullo said the idea has been a big hit on social media.

"This has gone around multiple times and there has been positive feedback from pretty much the majority of the school who is on social media saying 'oh we wish we have this' and 'this would be so cool,' " Lullo said. "They said, 'this is so great, we want this.' So we kind of took it and ran with it."

Top Photo: Lauren Leone.  Bottom photo: Kiara Cherry, Amand Patel and Mikey Lullo.

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Video about a similar program at a high school in Lebanon, Ind.

July 6, 2017 - 9:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, schools, education, news, notify.

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The Batavia City School District welcomed three new members to the school board, including Zach Korzelius, appointed to replace the seat vacated by Leslie Johnson. Johnson resigned to accept a job in education in New York City.

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Michal Lullo is the new student ex-officio member of the board.

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Newly elected Board Member Barbara Bowman.

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Newly elected Board Member Tanni Bromley.

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Pat Burk was re-elected by the board to be chairman.

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Pete Cecere becomes the vice-chairman.

May 16, 2017 - 10:42pm

Batavia City School District:

Budget - $49,870,585 (increase of $5,504,146 or 12.41%: $0.00 increase in tax levy)
Yes - 374 (81.84%)
No  - 83 (18.16%)

Establish $7.5 Million 10 Year Capital Reserve 2017 -
Yes -  370 (80.96%)
No -    87 (19.04%)

Board of Education positions (2):
Two terms from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2020 
Barbara Bowman, 293
Tanni Bromley, 279

 

Oakfield-Alabama Central School District
Proposition #1-Budget
Yes:  297
No: 53

Proposition #2-Buses
Yes: 290
No: 60

Proposition #3-Athletic Equipment
Yes:  258
No: 92

Proposition #4-Capital Reserve Fund
Yes:  288
No: 59

Board Members (Three Vacancies)
Chris Haacke, 208
Bonnie Woodward, 171
Jennifer Kirkum, 170
Tim Edgerton, 162
Andrew Merkel, 142
Bruce Pritchett      141

 

Elba Central School District

Proposition #1 Budget - $9,273,839
Yes: 136
No: 26

Proposition #2 – Authorization to establish the 2017 General Capital Reserve Fund 
Yes: 132
No: 29

Proposition #3 – Authorization to appropriate and expend from Transportation Vehicle and Equipment Capital Reserve to purchase one (1) 65 passenger school bus
Yes: 134
No: 28

Two Board of Education seats with two candidates running:
Travis Torrey, 149
Michael Augello, 134

 

Byron-Bergen Central School District

Proposition 1, Budget
Yes: 327
No: 153

Proposition 2:  Bus purchase
Yes: 340
No: 150

May 15, 2017 - 10:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, schools, education.

Voters will be asked tomorrow whether they support the 2017-18 Batavia City Schools budget, with a spending plan of $49,870,585.

That's an increase of 12.41 percent over last year, due entirely, school officials say, to a change to record debt service expenditures in the general fund as recommended by the comptroller's office.

Even so, local property owners will not be hit with an increase in school-related property taxes. The property tax levy isn't being increased at all.

This is the fourth straight year the district's tax levy is below the state's increase cap, so homeowners will be eligible for a state property tax rebate, sent directly to homeowners in the fall of 2017.

The budget represents a $10,859 per student in general education, $28,502 per Special Education student, or $19,241 per student on average. All three figures are below state averages, which are $11,949 and $30,667 and $22,536, respectively.

Of the district's total revenue, more than 52 percent comes from state and federal aid. The tax levy is 37.1 percent of total revenue. This budget calls for use of $2.7 million of fund balance (reserves).

Polls are open Tuesday, May 16, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Robert Morris (residents north of Route 5) and Batavia High School (residents south of Route 5).

April 26, 2017 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, awards, schools, education, news.

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Sofia Branche and Sheldon Silverling were named outstanding students for the month at last night's City schools board meeting. They were honored for their leadership examples they set at John Kennedy School.

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Teresa Morrill, named Outstanding Employee.

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Jane Haggett and the students and staff involved with Winter Guard were honored for their efforts with a proclamation. Students pictured, Mina Sanchez and Mary Murphy.

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Lisa Robinson, right, and the volunteers who helped organization Mr. Batavia, were recognized with a proclamation by the board. Students pictured, Lindsie Cook and Madison Moore.

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Aimee Nelson, named Outstanding Employee.

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Caryn Wood and Daniel Grillo along with the cast and crew of "Hairspray" were recognized with a proclamation recognizing their efforts to stage the musical. 

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Eileen Ognibene, named Outstanding Employee.

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Rob Vanderwerf, named Outstanding Employee.

April 5, 2017 - 2:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

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School Board Member Peter Cecere used a not-too-obscure cultural reference to emphasize the point last night that the proposed tax-rate increase for Batavia City Schools in the proposed budget remains at 0.00.

"That's also Blutarsky grade-point average in Animal House," Cecere said.

Business Administrator Scott Rozanski said the no-increase tax rate should remain the same regardless of the outcome of the overdue state budget.

At the time of last night's meeting, legislators in Albany had not yet come to an agreement on the state budget, which includes provisions to aid to local school districts, which left the district, Rozanski said, trying to calculate a budget with a key missing component.

Since last night, the folks in Albany have come to terms on a state budget, but this morning, Rozanski said he hasn't yet seen the breakout on state aid to schools.

Regardless, the only change anticipated to the budget, he said, if aid is less than anticipated then the cost of four new aides, at $150,000, would come from reserve funds and if the aid does come in at the anticipated rate or higher, those funds would be replenished. 

In three of the past five years, the school district hasn't raised the local property tax rate. 

If the district had raised taxes at the rate allowable under the state's tax cap over the past five years, the district's levy would be up $2.8 million. There were rate increases of 1.9953 percent in 2012-13 and 1.99 percent in 2014-15, for a levy increase total of $715,867. The difference between what would have been allowed and what was actually raised is $2.1 million.

This year, the district could have raised the levy by 4 percent and remained under the tax cap. That would have increased the levy by $740,000.

The total levy with no increase is $18.5 million.

The total budget is $49 million.

The school board approved the budget, which will be voted on by district residents for final approval in May.

April 5, 2017 - 1:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools, education, schools, news.

There's a student in the Batavia City School District who a few weeks ago was failing all of her classes. Now she's getting passing grades and is eligible for spring sports.

The student benefited, according to school officials, from an after-school program called WIN (What I Need).

The innovative program started in the school district this year and according to Scott Wilson, principal at the high school, Ashley John Grillo, principal at the middle school, and Teresa Morrill, a middle school teacher, the program is showing great results this year.

"This started as an idea and has come together as a really effective intervention program," Grillo said.

Of the 20 students who have participated so far, 16 have shown academic improvement.

As a testament to the program's success, the school officials noted, some who have been with the program have wanted to continue even after their grades improved enough that it was no longer required.

“It’s nice to see where reluctant learners are becoming really engrossed and engaged in the content and making improvements," Grillo said.

The program consists of two and a half hours of tutoring and study time at the high school, for both HS and middle school students, in an atmosphere that is described as "light." Students can take breaks as needed and snacks are often available.

"The best part of what I love is that every time I walk in, there is the relationship there that the teachers are developing with the students who haven't found their way yet academically," Wilson said. "They're making those connections."

Grillo talked about one student who participates in sports who was cleared to play and Grillo told him he could reduce his participation to just a half hour after school at the middle school. The student immediately asked if he could still show up at the program at the high school after practice.

"He likes the fact he has a quiet place and every teacher is available and he can get his work done," Grillo said. That quiet place, a place to study alone is something not available to the student at home, he said.

Part of the one-on-one tutoring is also talking with students about why they're in the situation they're in, whether it's lack of motivation, issues at home, or anything else, Morrill said.

"it's not just two-and-a-half hours just in a book," Morrill said. "We spend time talking about what's going on and why you're having these issues."

The success of the program could mean it expands at some point, Wilson acknowledged. He said there is already additional staff qualified for the tutoring and mentoring. and since the program takes place after school, there is room to expand.

Not all the students want to stay in the program after their grades improve, so right now, the schools have been able to make room for new students who need help as other students move out of the program. Getting out of the program is its own kind of motivation for some students.

"They know why they have to be there and they have a goal," Morrill said. "They want to get out. If that’s their goal, they don’t want to waste their two-and-a-half hours after school. They want to get it done so they can get out.”

April 5, 2017 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

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Students at Batavia's middle school and high school are getting exposed to a variety of technology and learning opportunities, Robert Mullen told City School District trustrees during a technology department review at the board's meeting Tuesday night.

While he spoke, Dylan Gaus (top photo), a student at Batavia HS, replaced a broken screen on a Google Chrome laptop computer.

Technology infrastructure goes beyond just computer and networking classes, Mullen explained. Middle school students get a bit of technology instruction with culinary courses or embroidery and STEM/STEAM instruction is woven into the district's curriculum.

There's also the traditional technology classes such as robotics, computer operations, and networking.

Mullen is a Cisco Network Certified Associate Instructor and an AP Plus Certified Instructor.

He described his computer classes as noisy and chaotic with no traditional desks but a series of workstations, with one central workstation where the class comes together "to solve big problems."

The course of instruction is rigorous and difficult, he said, and he's thinking of breaking the course into two components: hands-on repair work and the more academic side of computing (how things work and why) so students can take the path most suitable to them because there is so much to learn.

He said he encourages resilience.

"Most students have a strong fear of failure," Mullen said. "I try to get them more comfortable with the failure process because many times that’s the only time to begin again more intelligently."

One of the technology classes at BHS is computer repair, were students fix the Chromebooks other students have brought in for repair.

So far this year, there have been 59 repairs for equipment assigned to high school students, and since January, 19 for middle school students.  The average cost of each repair is $30.

“I think it’s still a significant savings for the district," Mullen said. "It’s just the parts. The school district doesn’t have to pay anybody to do the repairs and our kids have picked up some great skills in the process of doing it.”

March 21, 2017 - 12:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in art, schools, education, batavia, City Schools, news.

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Deb Meier, who has taught art in the Batavia City School District for 31 years and is about to retire, provided the governing board with an annual overview of activities in the Art Department at last night's trustees' meeting.

Students are exposed to art at all grade levels and instruction, she said, isn't just about visual presentation. The courses hit on history, writing, culture, critical thinking, science, and math, providing cross-curriculum lessons.

"You can see throughout, we take a lot of elements of art -- the line, shape, color, texture, value, space -- and we teach the kids now to build on it each year," Meier said.

They also learn how to create art in various mediums, from basic drawing to watercolors, animation, multimedia and video.

"One of the things we try to teach in class is if you make a mistake, just like in life, you work your way through it," Meier said. "You don’t just give up."

Each year, students also create self-portraits, which helps them visualize their own growth as people and artists.

"The portraits this year just blew me away," Meier said. "I’ll always remember them."

Two Batavia High School students had their work selected this year for the Finger Lakes Art Show, which is juried, so not all pieces submitted are accepted. The students were Angie Macconi and Melissa Mountain.

"It’s important at all grade levels (that) we talk about art, we write about art, we critique and encourage communication," Meier said. "We try to keep to the positive. I would rather hear from a child, ‘I like this one best because,’ and then give me a reason, and say it in a way, ‘I like how the artist used line in this one,' 'that it curls and swoops through the picture and leads your eye through’ rather than, ‘it’s pretty.’ ”

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By Cora Beal

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By Tyler Budzinak

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By Leo Burg

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By Sophia Dinehart

March 21, 2017 - 11:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

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John Kennedy School received the Outstanding School Award at last night's City Schools Board meeting. The school has been recognized as a school that boosts achievement for economically disadvantaged students by Better Outcomes, an educational research and consulting company in Hartsdale.  The selection was made based on demographic data and ELA Assessment results. Accepting the award, presented by Board President Pat Burk and Superintendent Chris Dailey, was Principal Paul Kesler.

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Kristina Clark received the outstanding staff award. Clark was honored for her many years of dedicated teaching at Jackson School, especially her use of distance learning technology, which has taken kids to the Mariner's Museum in Virginia and a kindergarten class in Texas. She also volunteers on various school committees.

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Kristen Fix received an outstanding staff award. Fix was honored for her strong ability to communicate and collaborate with parents as a kindergarten teacher at Jackson School. She also volunteers for school events, activities and committees.

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Joe Husssar received an outstanding staff award. Hussar was recognized for his ability to work with at-risk students, including home visits to assist students and their guardians. Recently, he assisted a co-worker who had fallen, He rode with her to the hospital and stayed with her until her family members arrived.

March 18, 2017 - 3:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, education, City Schools, schools, batavia, news.

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Last night was the last official student art show for Deb Meier, an art teacher at Batavia High School for 31 years. She's pictured in the back row on the left, with some of the city schools students who won awards Friday night in the opening art show at Richmond Memorial Library for Student Art Month.

Meier said she will continue volunteer work with student artists because she thinks it's so beneficial to the kids.

"Art gives enjoyment to life," Meier said. "It gives meaning. The arts, even though we only celebrate it once a month a year with Youth Art Month, it's essential to our beings. We are no longer living in caves. We’re living in houses that are designed by architects, wearing clothes that are designed by fashion designers."

Art is all around us, she agreed.

"Yes, we just need to learn to see it."

What she's enjoyed most about teaching art she said is seeing the students blossom. 

"Seeing the realization, seeing the light bulb go off when they realize they’ve got it, they did something right, they took something and explored a new media or new idea in expression," she said.

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March 2, 2017 - 10:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

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More than 700 voters in the City School District turned out today to vote on a proposed $26.7 million capital improvement project and an overwhelming majority of voters checked the "Yes" box on their ballots.

In all, according to the unofficial results released by the school district, 710 people (or 72.6 percent) voted yes and 260 voted no.

The plan uses existing capital reserves plus state aid to undertake improvements at the district's four schools plus rebuild Van Detta Stadium into a more modern facility capable of hosting regional sporting events. School officials said the Vision 2020 plan will not result in a tax increase to support it.

For more on the district's plans, click here.

March 2, 2017 - 9:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, news, batavia, City Schools.

Press release:

Batavia district votes today, March 2, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on proposed capital project

Batavia City School District residents may vote today between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on the proposed 2020 Vision Capital Project.

The $26,768,813 project has no additional tax impact and is designed to address critical program, infrastructure, renovations, site work, and facility needs in each of the District-owned buildings and Daniel A. Van Detta Stadium at Woodward Field.

For residents who live north of Route 5 (Main Street) voting is at the Robert Morris Building at 80 Union St., and for residents living south of Route 5 (Main Street) voting is at Batavia High School at 260 State St.

For more information, including clarification with a street-by-street guide on where to vote, please check the District’s website at www.bataviacsd.org and click on the link for the 2020 Capital Project.

February 17, 2017 - 3:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, education, schools, news.

Video provided by the Batavia City School District.

The forum at Batavia High School on Wednesday night was meant to discuss all aspects of the City School District's proposed $26.7 million capital improvement project, but most comments zeroed in on the future of Van Detta Stadium.

Some area residents are concerned about lights, noise, traffic, pedestrians and trash related to events at the facility.

The project, which the district has dubbed the 2020 Vision Capital Improvement Project, also had its supporters.

The project relies on money saved specifically for capital improvements and state aid, so all of the new building and upgrades can take place without any local tax increase.

Voters will be asked whether the district should move forward with the plan at a referendum vote March 2.

Jim Owen, a Redfield Parkway resident, substitute teacher, and regular at community events, praised the district for the plan.

"I just wanted to say thank you to the board and the superintendent for putting this opportunity to the voters," Owen said. "A zero-tax increase is, in my opinion, a no-brainer. When I pay a zero increase to get these benefits for today, tomorrow and the future for the children and the community, I say, thank you very much."

Among the skeptics was Councilman Bob Bialkowski, who lives in the area of the stadium. He said he has had calls from area residents about events at the current stadium and worried that changes will just make matters worse for the otherwise residential neighborhood.

“We need to teach our kids an important lesson that we care about our neighborhoods and our residential community," Bialkowski said. "I think it would be better if the vote was separated, the stadium separate from the rest of the project, but it’s too late for that.”

On the issues of light, noise, traffic and crowd control, Superintendent Chris Dailey said all of those issues are being addressed.

Lighting, for example, will use new LED lights that will not only be more energy efficient, they will be more directional so there will be less "spray" into neighboring properties.

There will continue to be security in place, including Batavia PD, to help deal with traffic, and the school will continue to emphasize to students the importance of not walking on people's lawns and leaving behind their trash.

Mike Barrett, an area resident, said he was pretty accepting of the seemingly inevitable change, but he's not happy about the prospects. There are already problems and he thinks they will just get worse.

"It’s getting out of hand, and now you want to bring in more programs," Barrett said. "This is a residential area when I have complaints it’s always on a Friday night, a Saturday night and nobody can be reached. I call the police, they drive by, they wave at the people and nothing gets done. It gets worse. So when I hear about marching bands and expanded athletic events, I think, this is insane. It’s a residential area."

Brad Griffith, who also lives in the area and said he played on Woodward Field when he was in high school, said he understands the concerns, but he thinks the new stadium will benefit the community and benefit the students.

"This is going to bring business to Batavia and we all gain from this," he said. "I know some have their issues with this, but I’d rather have my kids taking part in athletics and staying out of trouble."

There was little discussion about the planned upgrades to the four schools in the district, but when there was, it was about the current and future use of a building no longer used as a schoolhouse -- Robert Morris.

One parent asked, instead of adding more classrooms to John Kennedy, why not move one grade of students over to Robert Morris.

That was considered at one point, Dailey said.

"We looked at relocating one grade over to Robert Morris and looked at the social, emotional and academic impact, as well as the financial, of moving one grade over, and it was not beneficial to the students to add one more transition to the age group," Dailey said. "That’s why we chose not to go into Robert Morris."

Currently, Robert Morris is being used by the Star Program, a day-care provider, Genesee County Mental Health Association as a satellite office to help students and the IT department and buildings and grounds may be moving in.

After Bialkowski objected during his remarks to talk of the Batavia Daily News moving its offices over to Robert Morris, Dailey said that while the Daily News had toured the building, there was no current lease offer. After the meeting, he said the Daily News looked at the building months ago and never followed up with any further discussions.

February 13, 2017 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools, news, education, schools.

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Press release:

Batavia City School District Board of Education Awards on Feb. 7

Two Board members – Karen Tomidy and Leslie Johnson – each received a Certificate of Completion for finishing a NYS-mandated training for Board of Education members.

Batavia Middle School student Garrett Schmidt was presented with an Outstanding Student Award by Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the February Board meeting. He was nominated by BMS Principal Ashley Grillo, who wrote, “Garrett Schmidt is a stellar student who has transitioned into sixth-grade seamlessly. Even with increased expectations and responsibilities, Garrett is going above and beyond on a daily basis. Not only is Garrett kind and helpful to ALL students, he is meticulous in his work and his effort exceeds expectations. He is a quiet leader, which spurred his nomination to a leadership conference this summer. Garrett will attend the Ambassador Leadership Summit with students from 140 different countries that will enhance and refine his strong leadership potential. He is a student you trust. He works in the Counseling Center during his Home Base time and was even chosen to help a student travel to and from classes due to a broken wrist.”

Batavia Middle School staff members Karen O’Donnell, Laura Kaczmarek, Karen Cima, Jessica Korzelius and Frank Ferri were presented with Outstanding Employee Awards by Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the February Board meeting. They were nominated by BMS Principal Ashley Grillo, who wrote, “These Batavia Middle School teachers are being recognized for their help in organizing the fifth-grade Staycation Field Trip. Mrs. Korzelius, Mr. Ferri, and Mrs. O'Donnell approached the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership about having them come to BMS with devices and other technological resources acquired through the GAMETech Grant. These devices included LittleBits, Cubelets, Lego WeDo Robotics, Lego StoryStarters, and Lego EV3 Mindstorms Robotics Kits. Once the Staycation was approved, Mrs. Cima and Mrs. Kaczmarek organized the Staycation and had the students rotate through various stations throughout the school day. Stations were setup for programming and others were set up for building. The technological modules are hands-on activities that fit into instructional learning standards and learning targets. All the students were engaged in problem solving and creativity at each station. The Staycation took two months to plan, as it was extremely involved. Congratulations to these teachers for thinking outside the box and coming up with an excellent idea for our BMS Students.”

Jackson Primary School teacher Kelly Radley was presented with an Outstanding Employee Award by Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the February Board meeting. She was nominated by Jackson Principal Diane Bonarigo, who wrote, “Ms. Radley serves as a Teacher on Special Assignment for Jackson Primary School and is the District’s Mentor/Mentee Coordinator. She is a highly respected teacher leader and serves the school in many different ways. Ms. Radley can always be seen at evening and Saturday events at Jackson Primary and consistently goes above and beyond to serve the needs of our students, staff and parents, and does this with great enthusiasm. Thank you, Ms. Radley, for making a significant contribution to our school community.”

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February 8, 2017 - 11:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, schools, education, news.

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The rollout of technology in the classroom is going faster than expected at Batavia City Schools, Director of Technology Jeffrey McKinney told the school board during its meeting on Tuesday evening at the Richmond Memorial Library.

There are now more than 2,100 Chromebooks distributed among students at the school, and with the delivery of Chromebooks to Jackson School, the rollout is six months ahead of schedule.

McKinney was joined during the presentation by teachers who are "tech mentors" for other teachers and staff members. They shared the various ways that Chromebooks and related software are being used to help drive learning and lesson plans.

High school Science teacher Bert Hall said he thinks the program is going really well and it's great to see.

“I would be remiss to say if I didn’t mention how proud I am to work for a community and a school district that cares so openly and so deeply about their students," Hall said.

Teacher John Mangefrida talked about how students are better able to organize their work on the Chromebooks.

"Where there was disorder, now there is order," he said.

Asked by a board member if parents can access their children's lesson plans and homework online, Mangefrida said they could. All it takes is for them to request access and they will be sent an email with instructions and a link.

The board member asked if that happens much, Mangefrida said it doesn't.

"The kids don't share that information," he said.

Jessica Korzelius and Cynthia Morgan shared their process for taking students through a lesson plan for a day, using Hyperdocs, which ends with a survey-like assessment that will help students gauge their own progress and give teachers feedback on how the lesson is working for the students.

“One of the best things about Hyperdocs is knowing that one of the hardest parts of our jobs is differentiating and making sure we reach all of our students and this really allows those who struggle to have extra support and those who can fly a little bit higher can do some more on their own," Korzelius said.

The district as also made tremendous progress on upgrading infrastructure and rolling out broadband, McKinney said.

"Everything is running at top speed," he said. "We have enough bandwidth right now for every teacher, student, parent, staff member to have eight devices on the network. ... We are flying as far as that goes."

January 12, 2017 - 5:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, news.

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A $26.8-million plan for a wide range of improvements and upgrades within the Batavia City Schools is moving to the next phase of the approval process after getting a funding guarantee from the state and unanimous approval of the school board.

The next phase, a public hearing followed by a vote of district residents in March.

The public hearing will be at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the high school. The public vote will be Thursday, March 2.

The district will use $7.5 million saved in the capital reserve fund and the balance of the expenditure will be covered by the state.

This funding plan, said Scott Rozanski, business administrator, will mean the district can complete a number of projects without a local tax increase specifically for this project.

Rozanski compared the project to something a homeowner needs to do periodically, basic maintenance, replacing old and worn out parts of the house and making general improvements.

"It allows us to move into the 21st century in a lot of different ways," Rozanski said. "There will be technology upgrades and we can take care of our facilities for the long run. There are some things that need fixing and some things that needed fixing after our consolidation in 2012. After living in it for four or five years, things fit but they could be a better fit."

All of the schools will get fixes specific to those locations.

Batavia Middle School (floor plan above) will receive:

  • a renovated building entrance and improved entrance security;
  • expanded music area;
  • upgraded finish on gym floor, stairway halls, auditorium and classrooms;
  • improved indoor air quality;
  • upgraded lighting and PA system;
  • replacement of roof areas.

Batavia High School:

  • auditorium upgrades, including lighting and sound system and improved orchestra pit;
  • upgraded fire alarm system;
  • expanded restrooms;
  • roof replacements;
  • improved parent drop-off configuration.

Jackson School:

  • upgrade finishes in classroom;
  • expanded restrooms;
  • upgraded lighting system;
  • exterior window replacements.

John Kennedy School:

  • classroom addition;
  • reconfigure interior spaces;
  • window replacements, roof repairs;
  • upgraded lighting system;
  • improved parent drop-off;
  • improved sound system.

Upgrades to Richmond Memorial Library, including ventilations and the fire alarm system, are also part of the scope of work.

A big part of the project is a proposal to demo the current Van Detta Stadium and reconfigure the location of the stadium (still to be called Van Detta) and Woodward Field.

Woodward Field would get artificial turf and the surrounding track would become an improved synthetic material. 

Without this rebuild, Rozanski said, the 70-year-old Van Detta will become a bigger and bigger money pit. The current estimated costs of repairs and upgrades to improve accessibility and safety are nearly as costly as what the district is proposing now.

An improved, all-purpose facility will also help Batavia become a destination location, being halfway between Rochester and Buffalo, for regional sports competitions.

Even now, he said, the district gets requests to host events but can't because they conflict the the high school's own use of the facilities.

"We could keep repairing it or we could fix it permanently for 30 or 40 years and have very little maintenance expense," Rozanski said. "(Given the location) we should be able to draw a lot of different activities and that should benefit all businesses in the community. We should have increased (numbers of) people coming into the area to hotels, restaurants, retail and whatever other types of business. That will have a long-term positive impact on the community."

December 23, 2016 - 5:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

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Batavia City School District’s Jackson Primary School teacher, Melissa Mattice, was presented with an Outstanding Employee Award by Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the Dec. 20 Board meeting.

She was nominated by Jackson Principal Diane Bonarigo, who wrote, “Mrs. Mattice is a kindergarten teacher at Jackson School. She is a teacher leader and serves Jackson Primary School in many different ways year after year. She has volunteered her time on the School Improvement Team, PARP (Parents as Reading Partners) Committee, Parent Home School events and works closely with administration and staff to promote a positive and collaborative culture in the building as well as on the APPR District committee.

"Mrs. Mattice sets high academic standards and builds strong relationships with her students. She has earned a great deal of respect in the community as evidenced by the number of parent requests we receive each year, asking for Mrs. Mattice to be their child’s teacher.”

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Batavia City School District’s Jackson Primary School teacher, Marie Bigsby, was presented with an Outstanding Employee Award by Board of Education President Patrick Burk at the Dec. 20 Board meeting.

She was nominated by Jackson Principal Diane Bonarigo, who wrote, “Mrs. Bigsby continues to serve the students and families of Jackson Primary with great enthusiasm and dedication. Mrs. Bigsby is a standing volunteer member on many Jackson committees. Over the past several years, however, she has also dedicated a great deal of her time as a Jackson Teacher Representative and meets monthly with our parent group volunteers and the Parent Co-Presidents to support the school with evening and weekend events.

"You can always find Mrs. Bigsby volunteering to get the school ready for Fall Carnival, Breakfast with Santa, and Family Learning Nights. She works closely with staff to create a strong partnership with our families and is able to initiate great school support throughout the year. We appreciate her hard work and am thankful for her continued contribution to Jackson School.”

Photos and info submitted by Kathy Scott, Batavia City Schools.

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