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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.

December 9, 2016 - 9:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

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At Tuesday's meeting, the City Schools Board of Trustees, represented its president Patrick Burk, presented a series of awards.

Above, the girls swim team is recognized for the kindness they showed to a competing team near the end of the season. 

From the presentation:

A cancelled Senior Night Meet at Wilson Magnet was made up at our home pool recently. Our girls, in an act of generosity, included their four seniors from Wilson Magnet within OUR senior night ceremony with gifts of flowers, candy, individualized recognition and a custom towel.  The honor was unexpected by their families, but greatly appreciated.

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The football team, which won a third-straight Section V title, was also honored.

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Jessica Franks and Christopher Bateman – Outstanding Staff awards.

Recently, Jessica and Christopher both stepped up to help a group of students.  They helped to come up with a logical solution to a problem and volunteered their time to see it through during the school day.  Because of their thoughtfulness and student-first thinking, students in 8th grade Algebra were able to stay current and receive quality instruction during their teacher's absence.  We would like to thank Jessica and Christopher for all their hard work and dedication to the students at BMS.

Two teachers were also honored but were not present at Tuesday's meeting:

Tammy Wiedrich – Outstanding Staff Award

Tammy Wiedrich has worked tirelessly to improve the culture at BMS. She has taken a leadership role in our P.B.I.S. system by creating valuable lessons for our students during HERO meetings. Tammy has also taken the lead to coordinate the staff donated basket raffle for the Family and Community Night, which was a huge success. Currently, she is organizing a holiday gathering for the BMS staff. We would like to thank Tammy for all her hard work and dedication to our BMS family.

Kerry McBride – Outstanding Staff Award

Kerry McBride has worked very hard to promote a culture of gratitude with our staff and students. She is an integral part of our P.B.I.S. program. She helps to organize two of our PBIS events -- "Warm The Night” and our "Giving Back" field trip in December where students make gifts during the HERO meetings for our community. Recently, she placed messages and pictures on everyone's door to make them feel appreciated. Kerry works very hard to make sure that all staff and students feel appreciated. We would like to thank Kerry for her hard work and dedication to our P.B.I.S. initiative.

Photos by Howard Owens.

December 7, 2016 - 9:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, schools.

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In an ambitious plan to improve facilities at the district's four schools and build a new stadium and field at Union and Richmond avenues, Superintendent Chris Dailey told the City Schools Board of Trustees on Tuesday night that the $23 million to $27 million project won't increase property taxes at all.

When a board member said, "0.0," Daily emphasized, "$0.00."

Voters will still need to approve the capital improvement project March 2. There will be public forums prior to the vote, assuming trustees approve a resolution at their Jan. 10 meeting to move forward.

At Tuesday's meetings, trustees gave every indication they like the plan.

While every school in the district will get upgrades as part of the plan, the plan's signature expenditure might be the reconstruction of Van Detta Stadium and replacing the grass of the current field with artificial turf and surrounding it with a new, larger synthetic track surface.

The location of the field would also shift diagonally on the athletic facility's current parcel and move more to the east of the parcel. This would create additional parking to the west side.

There could even be more parking near the stadium if the district is able to move the playground at the former Robert Morris School, which is currently adjacent Richmond, and put parking in that spot. The playground would be closer to the back of the current school building and would still be available to neighborhood residents.

The new stadium would have home and visitor locker rooms with tunnels leading out to the field at the 50-yard line and a new press box over the stands, as well as all new lighting.  

"We were given Woodward Field, and we built Van Detta in 1947," Daily said. "We have not done significant renovation since. Most battleships that were built in '47 are retired or are currently museums. Ours holds 2,500 screaming fans on a Friday night.

“Pretty soon it’s going to get to the point where we’re going to have to do it one way or another," Dailey added. "We can do it now with a zero tax impact and it will be called Van Detta Stadium and Woodward Field, still. It will provide a community asset."

The new facility will be able to host a larger variety of events more frequently because officials will no longer need to worry about damage to the grass field. This means not only the district's soccer and lacrosse teams will be able to compete and practice on the field, but it will be available to youth football and soccer as well as adult leagues, such as the local rugby league.

It will be able to host large regional track meets and Section V and Section VI competitions, Dailey noted, and this will benefit local restaurants and hotels and help generate revenue for the district and the community.

The project can go forward without a tax increase because the district believes both that it has enough in reserves and that much of the project can be funded through state aid. Whether the price tag is $23 million or up to $27 million will depend on how much aid the district receives. If there isn't as much aid as hoped, the project can be scaled back or more reserves can be put into the pot.

There was no discussion Tuesday as to whether any kind of bond would be required to bridge any expenditure.

For the schools, improvements include:

  • High school: Upgrades to the auditorium, new public restrooms and an upgrade to the fire alarm system; 
  • Middle school: New attendance entrance, improvements to indoor air quality, upgrades and improvements to the gym and auditorium;
  • John Kennedy: An addition with five more classrooms, reconfiguration of classrooms and upgrades to the gymnasium;
  • Jackson School: Classroom upgrades, expanded restrooms and new public restrooms, new lights throughout the building and window replacements.

If approved by voters March 2, it would be at least six months before state funding could be approved, then design work could start. Construction would likely begin in the summer of 2018, with much of the construction finishing up by the fall of 2019 into early 2020.

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December 2, 2016 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

Press release:

Work on constructing next year's school budget has begun and volunteers are being sought for the Budget Ambassador Program, initiated in 1996 as a way to increase communication with the community about the District's financial plan.

Ambassadors are residents of the Batavia City School District (BCSD) who volunteer and commit to serve on a committee, which meets with Superintendent Christopher Dailey and Business Administrator Scott Rozanski for three (3) two-and-a-half (2.5) hour evening sessions on Feb. 1, 8 and 15, with an alternate “snow date” scheduled for March 1.

Ambassadors review the preliminary 2017-2018 budget as developed by the administration within the parameters established by the Board of Education, and recommend to the Board any modifications they would like to see. The recommendations, while highly valued, are advisory rather than binding as the Board develops the Proposed Budget to be brought to voters. Ambassadors also agree to explain their work to any interested community member.

Persons interested in serving must notify the District in writing by Jan. 5. The letter of interest should include name, address, email address and daytime phone number and be addressed to BCSD Superintendent Christopher Dailey and the BCSD Board of Education at the District Administration Offices, 260 State St., Batavia, NY 14020.

The letters will be reviewed, with official appointments scheduled to be made at the Board of Education meeting on Jan. 10.

November 17, 2016 - 11:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

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Press release:

Tiffani Brown receives Outstanding Student Award. She was nominated by BMS teacher Sarah Gahagan, who wrote, Tiffani is an eighth-grade student who shows dedication, perseverance, dependability, and a positive attitude in everything she does. She is one of 19 original founders of the BMS Girls on the Run team, hasn’t missed a single session, and always arrives on time and prepared. She partakes in every race, volunteer activity, and community-sponsored Girls on the Run event. Tiffanie has become so much more confident over the course of three years and many of her teachers think it’s because of this club. She is a great role model to her peers for her positive attitude and has developed her natural talent of working with others.

Maria DiMartino receives Outstanding Employee Award. She was nominated by Assistant Principal Maureen Notaro, who wrote, Maria DiMartino is a very special person. She is a classroom aide, often helping some of our most difficult students, and she goes above and beyond to make every child successful in school. She develops close relationships with the students and also supports them emotionally. The Board and Middle School are very fortunate to have such a dedicated employee.

Muriel Burns receives Outstanding Community Member Award. She was nominated by Assistant Principal Maureen Notaro, who wrote, Recently, one of our students from BMS was walking in the rain, late to school, and with no coat. A woman pulled over and offered him her umbrella. She asked him where he went to school and he said Batavia Middle School. She called the school, spoke to Julie Tybor, and asked us to get his sizes. Ms. Tybor called her back after the counselor provided his sizes. The next day Mrs. Burns returned to school with a brand new coat, three pairs of gloves, a back pack, and a blanket. The next day she returned with boots, hats, and nearly a dozen pairs of socks for him. The smile on the child’s face was priceless. This child does not have it easy, and she truly made his day.

Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dailey was invited to become a member of the National Center for Education Research and Technology (NCERT), an organization comprised of a maximum of 85 prominent school district superintendents as well as select corporate leaders from education-related industries. NCERT’s goal is to network creative and innovative thinkers who are leaders in education with the leaders of the industries they depend upon for products and services, technology, and research. The group focuses on contemporary issues of interest to school districts.

School Board Recognition: In honor of NYS School Board Recognition Week (celebrated this year from Oct. 24-28), several District organizations made donations to local charities in the Board’s honor. The JK Parent Teacher Group made a $50 donation to the Michael Napoleone Foundation, the Jackson Home School Association made a $50 donation to United Way – Community Action, the Batavia Clerical Association made a $50 donation to the United Way for the BCSD Backpack Program for BCSD students, and the Batavia Teachers’ Association made a $200 donation to the Salvation Army’s Backpack Program for the BCSD students. The New York State School Boards Association sponsors School Board Recognition Week to recognize school board members for their commitment to New York public school children and the crucial role they have within a school district.

Photos by Kathy Scott.

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November 16, 2016 - 4:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, schools, education, batavia, City Schools, news.

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It's full steam ahead for academics at John Kennedy School, according to Principal Paul Kesler, who delivered a progress report to the Batavia City Schools board at Tuesday night's meeting.

On standardized testing, John Kennedy students are outpacing their peers in other districts, Kesler said.

Kesler completed a comparison of third- and fourth-grade students among 16 similar-sized cities and JK's third-graders have the highest English Language Arts scores and second highest in math. For fourth-graders, they rank third and fourth in ELA and math.

"As you can see from the pattern," Kesler said standing in front of a bar chart, "there's really a straight line year after year in terms of small cities."

The third-grade class is the first to pass through the district since the realignment of schools before their kindergarten year.

Kesler also compared JK results with the 22 other districts in the region and JK students are in the 80th percentile in ELA and 90th in math.

On another math test, 35 percent of the students tested at level 4, which Kesler said was impressive.

"I'm really proud of that because now it's no longer just our top A students who performing at that high level," Kesler said. "It's really all of our students are moving along."

Kesler, who is in his 12th year at the school, praised the work of the school's staff and thanked the district board for helping him recruit and hire talented teachers.

The school also undertook an aggressive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts/design and math) curriculum this year and Kesler said it's going well so far.

There have been three STEAM sessions for the students and STEAM topics are being worked into other parts of the curriculum.

For example, students are going to read "Charlotte's Web" this year, so there will be corresponding instruction on insects and how spiders build their webs, which gets into engineering.

"It's exciting," he said. "When the kids get excited, I get excited."

As for the future, with the district now supplying each student with Chromebooks, there's no longer a need for a computer lab. The plan, Kesler said, is to turn the former computer lab into a STEAM lab and a maker space. It will be a paperless space, he said. For example, the desktops will be white boards, which students can use for their calculations. 

October 19, 2016 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education, news.

A consolidation plan enacted by Batavia City Schools four years ago has led to cost savings in some key areas, Sandra Griffin, now a retired principal from Batavia Middle School, told the school board at Tuesday's meeting.

Overall, personnel costs have decreased by $31,000.  

The first year of consolidation, in 2012-13, there was a $1.2 million cost savings, but since then the district has added new staff or AIS support and personnel for arts and music. Even so, there has been a payroll savings each year since consolidation.

When consolidation was implemented, district administration moved from its offices on Washington Avenue to offices at Batavia High School, closed Robert Morris School and shuffled grade levels between Jackson, John Kennedy, and Batavia Middle School.

One of the biggest areas of cost savings was in operations and maintenance, which is down $414,000.

Unemployment costs are down $103,000.

Utility expenses are down $292,700.

The one area of increase is bussing, which has jumped $484,000, the result of a more open bussing policy which has mean 305 more students are able to take a bus to and from school.

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