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February 8, 2016 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, sports.

High school student-athletes interested in playing sports in college are invited to a discussion tonight in the library of Batavia High School starting at 6:30 p.m. The workshop is open to student-athletes grades eight through 12 and their parents and will provide information on NCAA rules and requirements, eligibility, scholarships and recruiting. Kelly Cruttenden, an associate athletic director at University at Buffalo, will lead the discussion.

February 7, 2016 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, Pavilion.

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A panel of legislators and an audience of school board members and administrators who gathered in Pavilion on Saturday morning all seemed to agree that cuts in state aid to schools, mandates, and a restrictive property tax cap are hurting school districts.

School districts are in financial dire straights and can't continue to tap into reserves to provide the same level of services to students and their families was the general message of the discussion.

"What we would like to see, because we know the property tax cap is so low, what we would like to see in the Senate Republican Caucus, is eliminate the GA (Gap Elimination Adjustment) fully this year and add to the Foundation Aid so that we can fund our schools," said Sen. Cathy Young, who represents Cattaraugus County and is chair of the State Senate's Finance Committee.

Gap Elimination Adjustments were a prime target during the panel discussion. The program is a product of 2010-11 fiscal year when state funds were tight and Foundation Aid was being cut. While the word "gap" might imply the program was meant to replace what was being lost in Foundation Aid, for most school districts in the state, the program just meant fewer dollars to fund programs.

For the region, GA has cost school districts more than $140 million over the past five years. For the current fiscal year, those school districts are underfunded, officials say, by $21,447,597.

Meanwhile, the complicated tax cap formula limits any increase in school district revenue to .12 percent.

David Little, executive director of NYS Rural Schools, said there are districts that a year ago didn't need a voter-approved tax cap override, but this year, with the exact same budget, will need to go to voters for approval.

Until 2010-11, school districts were kept on a level playing field across the state through Foundation Aid. It's a complex formula but accounts for publication, household income, district size and cost of living to arrive at the size of an annual grant to school districts to ensure they have enough operational revenue.

Over the past five years, as the figures above indicate, Foundation Aid has been slashed drastically, and GA hasn't closed the gap.

The issue of mandate relief was raised early in the discussion by Paul Alioto, superintendent in Dansville, and several of the panel members responded.

Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer said he was on a task force that came up with a list of 51 mandates that could be targeted for elimination, but as soon as you start to dig into them one-by-one, you find each has their constituency, people who will fight tooth and nail to keep it alive.

One of his pet mandates to eliminate is one that requires a third audit of district financial records. It costs districts from $10,000 to $100,000 annually and in Ranzenhofer's view, it's unnecessary. He was able to get a bill through that exempted the state's smallest school districts, but subsequent attempts to exempt more districts have been stymied.

"We have to be able to get (a reform) through both houses," Ranzenhofer said. "It seems like common sense to me, but there is somebody in the Assembly majority who feels it is a good idea to have these audits."

Young said mandates around special needs students are particularly contentious. Many of the mandates could be shifted to a federal budget responsibility, but at the local level, people fear change. At the local level, it's often easy to see how mandated spending on even one special needs child might lead to the elimination of an advanced placement class, which creates local conflicts, but it's difficult to shift expense responsibility to the federal government.

David Little said New York's funding formula is backward compared to just about every other state in the Union. In New York, the state picks up only about 40 percent of the cost of education; in other states, the school district is on the hook for less than 40 percent and the state covers the rest of the expense.

And that's something that could be fixed easily, Little said, at least in theory, though the politics of it are much more tricky. The state mandates a pension program that is state run, but the school districts pay into the program. If the state covered pension expense, Little said, that 40/60 split would flip. It would lift a huge expense burden from school districts.

Assemblyman Bill Nojay took aim at standardized testing. He said children need a broad range of experience and the ability to think critically. The system, he said, is forcing children at a younger and younger age into silos -- "you're going to be a doctor, you're going to be an engineer ... "

He said he was in China recently and their standardized testing is even more rigorous, and people there complain about it.

"For what purpose?" Nojay said. "No matter how good the standards, we are teaching to the test, for lack of a better term, and the obsession with testing, in my judgment, and the Chinese experience, it's not good for child development. It is immensely counterproductive to the development of a society."

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said the drift in education is being driven by a progressive agenda that is hurting America in a lot of ways, and he spoke at length about increases in the minimum wage and problems with the healthcare system.

He shared a story about a call from a restaurant owner who employs 27 servers. An increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour will cost that restaurant owner an additional $105,000 a year.

The owner also recently had a waitress and cook who fell in love and she became pregnant. The waitress did have health insurance, so the owner set her up with an appointment with a health insurance navigator. he waitress reported back that the good news was, she was going to get health insurance. The bad news was that in order to qualify, she couldn't work more than two days a week, and the child's father, a full-time cook at the restaurant, couldn't work more than three days a week.

"We've lost our way in this state with hands out instead of hands on, actually working," Hawley said. "This is not the America we grew up in. It's not the free enterprise system we all prospered under, or tried to prosper under, and that movement over the last seven years across this state is going the wrong way and it's hurting education."

February 4, 2016 - 1:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, education.

Press release:

If you enjoy movies and watching the upcoming Academy Awards, why not learn what it takes to be a screenwriter? Or understand how the weather is predicted? Or acquire the latest tricks of the digital photography trade? You can learn all of these things and more with late-start, 12-week courses at GCC. Register now for the session which begins Feb. 16.

Students over the age of 60 can audit a course for free with space availability.

Among the dozens of GCC classes available online or onsite during the 12-week session include: (Online courses are indicated.)

  • Writing for Stage and Screen (CIN214): Learn the basic techniques of writing for the stage and screen with emphasis on structure, storytelling through dialogue and dramatic action. (Batavia Campus)
  • Introduction to Meteorology (MET101): Stop blaming the weatherman and learn for yourself how to read weather maps and charts; how to observe, study and predict storm systems; and how fronts develop, as well as thunderstorms and tornadoes. (Online)
  • Introduction to Digital Photography (PHO 118): Learn the fundamentals of digital imaging using cameras, scanners and new media while understanding the subject, form and interpretation of all images. (Online)
  • History Courses: From World Civilizations to U.S. History – there are five sections of history classes offered in the 12-week session, online and at Batavia and Warsaw campus locations.

To apply for classes at any of Genesee Community College's seven campus locations, new students should go to http://www.genesee.edu/Admissions or call the Admissions office at 585-345-6800.

GCC is also ready to help new or continuing students with financial aid. Two GCC campus centers are offering FREE financial aid assistance on Thursday, Feb. 11, at Warsaw Campus Center, and Tuesday, March 29, at Dansville Campus Center, from 4 - 8 p.m. at each location. Anyone interested in setting up a personal appointment with GCC's Financial Aid Office in Batavia can also call 585-345-6900. Everyone is also invited to check out GCC at an upcoming Open House or Friday Visit Day at the Batavia Campus:

Batavia Campus Open Houses *

Wed., March 9, 5 - 7 p.m.

Sat., April 23, 9 a.m.- noon

Friday Visit Days

Feb. 26, 9 a.m. – noon

March 4, 9 a.m. – noon

March 11, 9 a.m. – noon

April 8, 9 a.m. – noon

April 29, 9 a.m. – noon

At GCC's Batavia Open Houses, representatives from Admissions, Financial Aid and College Village are all available to answer questions covering everything from scholarships to athletics, testing to Student Support Services, student life to studying abroad. A full Batavia campus tour is available.* Friday Visit Days are less formal but more up-tempo alternatives to Open Houses offering an introduction to admissions, details about applying to GCC and getting financial aid. You can also sit in on a First Year Experience (FYE) college class at any Friday Visit Day.

GCC campus centers are often open evenings to assist students, and welcome visitors for tours. Please check with your local campus center for hours. To contact any of GCC's seven campus locations and or the Online Office:

• Albion: 456 West Avenue / 585-589-4936

• Arcade: 25 Edward Street / 585-492-5265

• Batavia: 1 College Road / 585-345-6800

• Dansville: 31 Clara Barton St. / 585-335-7820

• Lima: 7285 Gale Road (at Route 15A) / 585-582-1226

• Medina: 11470 Maple Ridge Road / 585-798-1688

• Warsaw: 115 Linwood Ave. / 585-786-3010

• Online: www.genesee.edu/offices/online/; Call 585-343-6969; E-mail [email protected];

January 29, 2016 - 11:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, schools, education, GSO, batavia, Batavia HS.

Anytime we cover an entertainment event at Batavia High School, we wind up with a picture of Ross Chua performing. He's very talented and very motivated. This is a photo from a talent show in June.

Besides being a performer, Chua is also a songwriter and composer. On Monday, the Genesee Symphony Orchestra played one of his compositions so it could be recorded to include with his college auditions and interviews.

This may be the first time the GSO performed a composition by a local high school student.

Here's the video:

January 28, 2016 - 3:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, education.

Press release:

In today’s economy, advanced manufacturers require skilled workers. The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, in conjunction with the Workforce Development Institute and eight area companies, have created a precision machining program to prepare qualified individuals for entry-level positions and a career path in CNC Precision Machining.

This Adult Education Program consists of 425 hours of classroom instruction at either the Mount Morris or Batavia Career and Technical Education Centers and 160 hours of on-site training and experience with our partnering companies. In addition, participants who successfully complete the program may be offered a two-week internship at a partnering company at the conclusion of the program. The deadline to apply is Feb. 24.

The eight partnering companies are D.P. Tool, Liberty Pumps, Amada Tool, SR Tool, Brach Machine, Inc., FTT Manufacturing, B&B Precision Manufacturing, Inc., and Chassix.

Classroom instruction will consist of lecture and hands-on instruction covering the general use of the basic components of a mill and lathe. Common fixtures, cutting tools, and tool holders will be covered. Students will study blueprint reading and use precision measuring devices. Introduction to Computer Control Programming and operation of machine tooling through HAAS Programming System control panels will provide the necessary skills for entry-level machine operator positions. 

Individuals who are 18 years of age by April 1, 2016 and have earned a high school diploma, GED or who can demonstrate successful experience in a manufacturing environment are eligible to apply. Funding is available for eligible candidates.

The curriculum covered in this class includes the following:

Introduction to Machining                       
Shop Safety
Technical Shop Math
Precision Measurement
Blueprint Reading
Layout Work
Fasteners
Fixtures
Cutting Fluids
Drills and Drilling Machines

Grinding
Sawing and Cutoff Machines
Cutting Tapers and Screw Threads on the Lathe
Lathe Operations
Milling Machine Operations
Precision Grinding
Computer Numerical Control (CNC)
Quality Control
Metallurgy
Heat Treatment of Metals
Occupations in Machining Technology

For more information about this program, contact Chuck DiPasquale, director of Programs, at (585) 344-7552. Applications may be downloaded at http://www.gvboces.org/adulted.cfm?subpage=1216002 and are due by Feb. 24.  

###

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State. 

January 27, 2016 - 3:00pm
posted by Session Placeholder in education.
Event Date and Time: 
February 20, 2016 - 9:30am

On Saturday, Feb. 20, Genesee County 4-H will be holding its annual public presentations event at Byron-Bergen Middle/High School, Bergen; the event begins at 9:30 a.m. This involves more than 80 4-H youth from across Genesee County.
4-H youth ranging from ages 5 to 18  will give public presentations in front of their peers and a panel of volunteer judges. Presentations will include everything from illustrated talks using posters, PowerPoint presentations, to live demonstrations and even impromptu topics. Each presentation is at least five minutes, but no longer than 15 minutes.

January 26, 2016 - 2:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, ugandan water project.

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Press release:

On Jan. 25, students at Byron-Bergen Elementary School hosted representatives from the Ugandan Water Project, a humanitarian organization headquartered in Bloomfield that works with communities in Africa to provide safe, accessible drinking water.

After learning how precious water is to children and families in Uganda, students took on the challenge to help raise funds to install a rainwater collection system at a school there. The system will serve a community of almost 400 people for up to 35 years. Byron-Bergen students will change lives.

“It is just as important to us to help kids here in Byron-Bergen see how powerful they are; how every one of them is capable of changing the world, as it is to bring safe drinking water to villages in Uganda,” said Ugandan Water Project Executive Director James Harrington. “Our purpose is to help kids grow on both continents.

"The connection between Byron-Bergen and Uganda began last year with a chance meeting between Harrington and third-grade teacher Lynnette Gall. Thanks to the elementary school’s Character Education Committee, with help from educational experts at the Ugandan Water Project, teachers school-wide are incorporating the concept of water as a valuable resource into their studies of world culture, geography, and science.

Students will learn how water is used, where water comes from, about the water cycle, and the problems caused by unequal distribution of water around the world.

The Ugandan Water Project presentation began with joyful Ugandan folk music played by Harrington, and a chance for children to try out traditional dance steps. Students then experienced what it is like to try to carry a 40- to 50-pound container of water — a task faced by many Ugandan children who live over an hour from their water source.

Harrington and Ugandan Water Project Communications Lead Megan Busch then spoke about their water projects, over 250 currently, and demonstrated how something as simple as a small filter can make unsanitary water safe to drink.

The nonprofit Ugandan Water Project was founded in 2008, and works with more than 200 communities in Uganda. Their water solutions include rainwater collection systems, well repair and water purification systems. To contribute to Byron-Bergen Elementary School’s campaign visit http://ugandanwaterproject.com/product/byron-bergen/ by Feb. 12.

Top photo: Special water filters can purify otherwise undrinkable water. Byron-Bergen students and their teachers join Ugandan Water Project Executive Director James Harrington in sampling clean, safe filtered water.

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Byron-Bergen Elementary School students shake their tail feathers as part of a traditional Ugandan dance.

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Students try to imagine carrying heavy containers of water over long distances. Many Ugandan children their age face this daunting task every day. 

January 21, 2016 - 2:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education.

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Press release:

This year’s National Geographic Society Geography Bees for grades seven and eight, and grades four through six were held earlier this month at the Byron-Bergen Junior High and Elementary schools. All of the participants qualified after earning high scores on written tests taken in December.

At the Junior High, the top student performers were — Grade eight: Caitlin Ashton, Siomara Caballero, Alex Dean, Kyle Foeller, Sara Fraser, Coltin Henry, Connor Kaminski, Cambria Kinkelaar, Garrett Swinter, Justice Towne, Hannah VanSkiver, Abby Vurraro, and Grant Williams. Grade seven: Nick Baubie, Ricky Denson, Josh Fleming, Colby Leggo, John Mercovich, Isaiah Merrell, Zechariah Merrell, Andrew Parnapy, Deacon Smith, and Josh Swapceinski.

The very smartest Bees on this side of the globe were students Ricky Denson and Alex Dean, who competed in the event’s Championship Round. Denson was able to answer all three final questions correctly and was declared the Junior High School Geography Bee Champion. He was awarded a $25 Amazon.com gift card. As the runner-up, Dean received a $15 Amazon.com gift card.

The next step for Denson will be a written test. If his score is one of the 100 highest in the state, he will be invited to take part in the New York State Bee. State winners compete in the National Geography Bee in Washington, D.C., hosted by Alex Trebek from the “Jeopardy” TV show.

At the Elementary School, there were also many outstanding competitors: Jared Barnum, Dayanara Caballero, Cameron Carlson, Caris Carlson, Braedyn Chambry, Sadie Cook, Evan Cuba, Gianni Ferrara, Emily Henry, Frank Hersom, Grace Huhn, Brooke Jarkiewicz, Ryan Muscarella, Stephanie Onderdonk, Madelynn Pimm, Elizabeth Piper, Carter Prinzi, Elli Schelemanow, Grace Shepard, Ella VanValkenburg, Alexandra Vurraro, Dawson Young, Corden Zimmerman, and Nicholas Zwerka.

The new 2016 Champion Corden Zimmerman, a sixth-grader, will also be taking a written exam in hopes of qualifying for the state competition. Fifth-grader Cameron Carlson was the runner-up.

District teachers and counselors also played a part in the success of the events. At the Elementary School: Judges Craig Schroth, Erin Varley, and Liz Findlay; moderator Rick Merritt; and Bee Coordinator Ken Rogoyski. At the Jr. High School: Judges Rob Kaercher, Matt Walther, and Bryan Kavanaugh; moderator Debbie Slocum; organizer Ken Gropp; and Interim Dean of Students Aaron Clark.

Top photo: Elementary School Geogrpahy Bee Champion Corden Zimmerman.

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Byron-Bergen Junior High School participants in the National Geographic Society Geography Bee for grades seven and eight.

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Junior High Geography Bee Champion Ricky Denson, Mr. Gropp, and runner-up Alex Dean.

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Contestants from grades four through six in the 2016 National Geographic Society Geography Bee at Byron-Bergen Elementary School.

January 20, 2016 - 3:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, schools, education.

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Press release:

Four students from the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center recently competed in the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association (NFADA) Ron Smith Memorial AutoTech Competition. This event was held on Jan. 16 at Erie Community College.

Santiago Deluna, from Batavia CS, and Tyler Weaver, from Pavilion CS, both juniors, competed in the tire rodeo. This timed event tested the students’ speed and accuracy as they demonstrated their expertise on the Hunter TC3700 tire changer. Both students were required to take an exam about tire theory. This team placed second. Tyler took first place for the highest test score and won a Best Buy gift card.

Seniors Dylan Binnert, from Caledonia-Mumford CS, and Dan Cone, from Pavilion CS, participated in a three-part competition. The first section of the competition was comprised of workstations that included front-end alignment, wheel balance, brake systems, electrical repair, precision measurement, and noise and vibration diagnosis. The second phase of the competition included debugging a 2016 Ford F150 Truck. The competition concluded with a mock employment interview.

Dylan and Dan, the senior team, earned first place and will advance to the national competition in New York City at the end of March. This trip is an all expenses paid trip funded by the Niagara Frontier Automotive Dealer Association. Dunn Tire, LLC, sponsored the competition.

All four young men are students in the Auto Technology Program at the Batavia CTE. Bob Yates is the instructor.

Photo: Scott Bieler, president of West Herr Ford; Dylan Binnert; Dan Cone; and Bob Yates, celebrate the team’s first-place win in the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association (NFADA) Ron Smith Memorial AutoTech Competition.

January 20, 2016 - 1:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, education, scholars symposium.

Press release:

GCC students and faculty accomplish great things throughout the year. In an effort to recognize the great work and bright minds that the College has to offer, the Genesee Community College Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (CURCA) Committee invites the entire college community to the first Scholars' Symposium – a celebration of inquiry and scholarship – on Tuesday, March 29.

Students, faculty, staff, community leaders and friends, some from afar, will be sharing and demonstrating scholarly achievements in all disciplines through presentations, poster exhibits and performances.

"The Scholars Symposium is the opportunity to expand horizons, hone presentation skills and engage the collective brain power of Genesee Community College for all to enjoy and to appreciate," said JoNelle Toriseva, director of GCC's English, Communications and Media Arts, who is organizing the first-ever event.

All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to submit proposals to present their original work at the Scholars Symposium to the CURCA committee. The Scholar' Symposium Web site provides complete details along with an online submission opportunity. Go to: http://www.genesee.edu/home/events/scholars-symposium/.

Areas of presentation include the following 12 different options:

Research - 15 minute oral presentation; 30 minute oral presentation

Research Poster - Presenters prepare a 2-3 minute talk about their topic to share with interested parties. Presenters must stand/sit near poster for 60 minute session.

Panel Discussion - 30 or 60 minutes

Presentation of Experiential Education, Internships, Field Work, Travel - 15 minute descriptive oral presentation includes Q&A; or a poster/portfolio presentation

Reading of Creative Work - 15 minute reading of poetry, prose, fiction or hybrid work

Work in Progress Reading of Creative Work - 5 minute reading

Studio/Visual Art - 15 minute oral presentation or poster

Theatrical Performance

Music Composition - 20 minute performance

Dance Choreography - 20 minute performance

Film Production/Theatrical Script - 20 minute performance

PechaKucha - 7 minute oral presentation (20 PowerPoint slides for 20 seconds each)

All students must have a faculty or staff mentor, but sponsors are not required to co-present. All abstracts describing students' scholarly and/or creative projects must be submitted by Feb. 1. The Committee will review submissions Feb. 1 – March 7 and the schedule of presentations will be released on March 8.

Pulitzer Prize winning author, Columbia University professor, and historian Eric Foner, Ph.D, will deliver the event's keynote address. Regarded as the leading contemporary historian of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, Foner is the recipient of many awards for history writing, and has written more than 20 books on the topic, including his newest "Gateway to Freedom, The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad."

This premiere Scholarship Symposium at GCC, which is to be held annually, is sponsored, in part, by a President's Innovation Award (PIA) which provides funding for innovative activities and projects that promote community involvement in the life of the College, stimulate student and community pride, or help establish pilot programs and initiatives with the potential for positive, long-term impact.

"We are excited that this initiative touches on all parts of the PIA program, and we believe the Scholar's Symposium will become a dynamic, sought-after and vibrant component to the College's annual academic activities," Toriseva said.

For specific information about the Scholars' Symposium contact Director of English, Communications and Media Arts JoNelle Toriseva. Her e-mail address is: [email protected], and her telephone: 585-343-0055, ext. 6627.

January 20, 2016 - 5:28am
posted by Session Placeholder in education.
Event Date and Time: 
February 11, 2016 -
12:30pm to 2:00pm

In continuing the year-long effort to provide dynamic programs focused on the theme “Education Around the World,” the Global Education Committee of Genesee Community College will present the film, “He Named Me Malala” on Thursday, Feb. 11, promptly 12:30 p.m. in the Stuart Steiner Theatre at the Batavia Campus.

January 15, 2016 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, schools, education, nutrition.

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It was celebrity chef night at Le Roy High School on Thursday, with three local chefs acting as instructors for a group of teachers who competed against each other to create the best healthy meal.

While awards were given for best salad and best entree, the evening was really about providing a real-world lesson in healthy eating, said Michelle Sherman, a phys-ed teacher and coordinator of the wellness program at the school.

"It's so easy to create these meals out of just stuff you would have in a pantry and you don't have to go pick up fast food," Sherman said. "It's easy, and it's fun. You can have a nice fun family night by doing all of this."

The local chefs instructing the teams were Selby Davis, Hassan Silmi and Sam Hillburger. On Davis's team were Erica Jermy and Kim Cox. On Silmi's team were Julie Coleman and Mike Humphrey. On Hillburger's team were Tatyana Qadiri and Pete Green.

The judges are students in the Culinary Arts Program at BOCES, and they were Emily McVicker, Abbey Cacner, Steven Stephany and Nicholas Shepard.

Brian Moran was emcee.

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January 15, 2016 - 1:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in micheal ranzenhofer, schools, education.

Press release:

The New York State Senate has passed legislation that completely abolishes the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) this year. Nearly $434 million in GEA cuts remain for schools in 2016-17.

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer voted in favor of the bill.

“One of the top priorities for this Legislative Session is to get rid of the GEA budgets cuts. I am proud to support the Senate-approved legislation as the first order of business. It’s time for the Assembly Democrats to join with us,” Ranzenhofer said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a phase-out of the GEA over two years during his State of the State address.

“We must end the disastrous GEA this year. The time is overdue to eliminate the GEA, along with its devastating impact on funding for public schools,” Ranzenhofer said. “Abolishing the GEA will finally restore millions of dollars in state aid to our schools and build a better future for our children.”

The GEA was first imposed in 2010 by former Governor David Paterson and the Democrats who controlled the Senate and Assembly. Senator Ranzenhofer voted against the GEA because it made severe cuts to the bottom lines of school districts in Western New York. Since it was first approved, Senator Ranzenhofer has been leading the charge to eradicate the GEA and deliver major funding increases to help mitigate its devastating impact on education.

In the past five years, the GEA cuts have been reduced by approximately 85 percent. Last year alone, Senator Ranzenhofer successfully pushed for an additional $603 million to help schools overcome the GEA challenge.

The bill has been sent to the State Assembly.

January 11, 2016 - 10:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, byron, bergen, schools, education.

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Press release:

Sixth-grader Elli Schelemanow bested 22 other participants in the annual Robert Fowler/Byron-Bergen Grades 6-8 and Buffalo Evening News Spelling Bee held last month. Schelemanow now represents Byron-Bergen in the run for regional representation at The Scripps National Spelling Bee. Up next for her is a written test in early February to determine her eligibility for the regional spelling bee. That competition, The Western New York Oral Final, will be held on Sunday, March 13, at 1:30 p.m. at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

Runners-up this year are Byron-Bergen seventh-grader Joshua Swapceinski and eighth-grader Garrett Swinter. The competition put all the students through their paces, with eight challenging rounds and scores of demanding words before a champion emerged. The competition was moderated by teacher Andrew McNeil; with instructors Charlene Kelly, Laurie Penepent, and Diana Walther acting as judges. 

Byron-Bergen’s exceptional spelling contestants:

Grade 6: Corey Abdella, Madison Burke, Sadie Cook, Grace Huhn, Elli Schelemanow, Alex Toal, Ella Van Valkenburg, Hallie Wade, and Corden Zimmerman. 
Grade 7: Julietta Doyle, Josh Fleming, Gavin Lewis, John Mercovich, Alaura Rehwaldt, Sarah Streeter, and Josh Swapceinski.
Grade 8: Siomara Caballero, Alex Dean, Cambria Kinkelaar, Ethan Ray, Garrett Swinter, Justice Towne, and Grant Williams.

Byron-Bergen’s Jr./Sr. High School Interim Principal Patrick McGee congratulated Shelemanow, Swapceinski, Swinter, and all the participants.

“Our schools are proud to have Elli represent us, and I’m confident she will do a great job,” he said. “All our kids did impressive work with very difficult spelling challenges. McGee also wished to thank all the teachers at the Elementary School and Junior HS for their support, “especially Jason Blom and Elizabeth Findley and the sixth-grade team.”           

Top photo: Robert Fowler/Byron-Bergen Grades 6-8 and Buffalo Evening News Spelling Bee (l-r) runner-up Garrett Swinter, Bee champion Elli Schelemanow, and runner-up Joshua Swapceinski. 

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January 8, 2016 - 2:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education.

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Parents and other community members were invited to the library of Batavia High School last night to learn about how the City School District has been implementing technology in the classroom.

District officials shared how technology is being used and how they would like to improve the use of technology with the help of money from the Smart School Bond Act. The district is applying for $2.1 million in state grant money to upgrade the district's technology infrastructure and purchase technology equipment. 

It's an increase in attention on technology that the district has been preparing to implement for a couple of years, Superintendent Chris Dailey said.

One goal is to provide each high school student and eventually, students at the lower grades, with smart devices that connect to the Internet at school. Part of the money from the state will be used to improve the wi-fi infrastructure to support that level of always-on connectivity. 

"Go on any college campus right now, walk into a classroom or lecture hall, there's no pen and paper anymore," Daily said. "It's all utilizing a device. When you're going into most industries now, people are using these kinds of things. We're trying to put those kinds of devices into the hands of our students at a younger age so they're natives to it versus visiting the technology."

Whether a student comes out of high school bound for college or going straight into a career, the future belongs to those with the technology skills needed to compete in the digital age.

"This doesn't replace the instruction that's going on," Daily said. "We want to prepare students for the world that we don't know will exist in a couple of years, with jobs that are evolving as we speak at things like the STAMP project, or you look at what's going on in the incubators in the Rochester and Buffalo area with new businesses evolving all the time at the unviersities. We want to put our kids at an advantage so that when they come out they can walk into those jobs with some skills that other kinds may not have in our region."

Top photo: Mason Battaglia shows off a 3D printer. One of the things he was able to do with the printer was solve a problem for the marching band. The drummers needed glow-in-the-dark mallets, so Mason used the 3D printer to make them.

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December 22, 2015 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education.

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Press release:

A standing-room-only audience of more than 200 filled the Elementary Cafetorium at Byron-Bergen Elementary School on Dec. 21 to hear the school’s kindergarteners greet the holiday season with music. The annual Holidays Around the World event is the culmination of the children’s study of world cultural diversity through understanding holiday customs. This year, the program featured songs and carols highlighting seasonal traditions from Germany, Mexico, Israel and England.

Teacher Melissa Chamberlain presented the program, introducing the students from her kindergarten class and the classes of fellow teachers Beth Amidon, Shana Feissner and Lori Simmons. Accompanist and former kindergarten teacher, Marsha MacConnell, who has been part of the proceedings for many years, played the piano. Dressed in their finest festive garb and wearing elf hats they made themselves, the children enthusiastically launched into their performance.

Songs included a demanding Spanish rendition of “Casca Bells,” “Oh Christmas Tree” from Germany, complete with dancing trees, and “Deck the Halls,” which celebrated the English tradition of caroling. The young performers also represented the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah with a version of “I’ve Been Lighting All the Candles.” Favorite songs were not forgotten: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” were all part of the fun.

After the singing concluded, parents and students enjoyed punch and cookies, and had the opportunity to speak with hosts Principal Brian Meister and Assistant Principal Amanda Cook, along with the kindergarten teachers.

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December 12, 2015 - 10:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson School, batavia, schools, education.

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Jackson School continued a 25-year tradition this morning with its annual Breakfast with Santa.

It's a chance for the children to come with the school on a morning that is all about fun and family, said Principal Diane Bonarigo. 

The event includes gifts, games, crafts, chance auctions, breakfast and, of course, a few minutes on Santa's lap and a whisper in his ear of what toys under the tree would most delight the children come Christmas morning.

Bonarigo said Michelle Miller, president of the parent-teachers group, deserves a great deal of credit for putting together this year's event.

More than 800 students and adults were expected to attend this year.

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December 8, 2015 - 1:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education.

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Press release:

The third-annual Reading Celebration at Byron-Bergen Elementary School got off to rollicking start with a farmyard-themed event on Nov. 20. Students were in the mood, wearing straw cowboy hats, overalls, and bandannas. Teachers dressed as cows, pigs, and singing farmhands hit the stage to build excitement for the challenge ahead: reading 25,000 books (almost 50 per student) before the end of the school year.

Students have consistently surpassed their reading goals since the challenge began in 2013; last year beating their target of 20,000 books by almost 4,000.

“Reading really is fun. We want kids to enjoy it and develop the reading habit now while they are young,” said Principal Brian Meister. “The motivation this year is the promise of a very special farm-themed reward in June. We’ll make all their hard work pay off in an event to remember.”

The assembly kicked off with Byron-Bergen parent Alyson Tardy, her backup teacher/singers and the student population singing and dancing to “Read a Book” — a special version of Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off.” Then Assistant Principal Amanda Cook played the starring role in a skit based on “Little Pig Joins the Band,” a favorite children’s book by David Hyde Costello.

Things got even more boisterous with an enthusiastic gameshow version of Pictionary, with students trying to guess which favorite books were being represented by teacher-drawn pictures. The festive atmosphere continued with a colorful quartet of Book Fairies (more enthusiastic teachers) who awarded a free book to one child from each class. 

Top photo: Reading is fun at Byron-Bergen Elementary School and a new book makes the day complete for student Mace Tyson.

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Byron-Bergen Elementary School teachers perform “Read a Book,” with a little help from the audience of young readers. 

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Assistant Principal Amanda Cook puts on a pig nose to lead the band and advance the celebration of reading at Byron-Bergen Elementary.

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The Byron-Bergen Book Fairies made sure that outstanding representatives from each class got their very own new book.

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Byron-Bergen student Gianni Ferrara is already well on the way to making sure the goal of reading 25,000 books is reached.

December 1, 2015 - 8:39pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in kathy hochul, Genesee Community College, education.

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Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s visit to Batavia on Tuesday included some hands-on education.

Hochul met for about a half hour with officials at Genesee Community College, who discussed the college’s workforce development initiatives and STEM — or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — career path training.

A subsequent campus tour included the third-floor science laboratories, where Assistant Professor Karen Huffman-Kelly was teaching a Cellular Biology class.

The lab is equipped with a luminometer, a hand-held swab unit that uses bioluminescence technology to test bacteria levels on food-processing equipment.

Hochul — under the guidance of Greg Sharpe, instructor for the college’s Food Processing Technology program, pictured above — used the device to test the cleanliness of a student’s cell phone.

“We’ll see whether I want to keep holding your cell phone,” Hochul told the student.

The verdict?

After a quick swab and a 15-second countdown, the device yielded a score of 136.

“Not too bad,” Sharpe said.

“Cell phones on average (score) around a 300,” he explained. “In the food industry, typically anything over a 30 we make them re-clean it.”

GCC launched its Food Processing Technology degree program last year. It was designed to meet the demand for skilled workers in the food manufacturing field.

The program already has an international reach, as Hochul learned by chance on Tuesday.

She was introduced to Arsenio Ferreira, 22, who is in his second year of the FPT program.

Ferreira hails from the southeast Asian island nation of Timor-Leste, which became independent in 2002. He told Hochul he will bring new skills back to Timor-Leste, to help with its economic and social development.

Hochul called New York’s community colleges the creative engines of the SUNY System, with the flexibility to meet changing economic needs.

“I think we’re very lucky because we have a strong reputation as far as the academic quality of this institution,” said GCC President James Sunser, Ph.D.

The Food Processing Technology program, he noted, was developed in cooperation with Cornell University.

“Their willingness to work with us — and to accept our students in transfer — is in large part because of our strong academic reputation.”

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Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, right, speaks Tuesday at Genesee Community College with Arsenio Ferreira, an international student from Timor-Leste who is studying Food Processing Technology.

December 1, 2015 - 7:21am
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, The Hour of Code, computer science, education.

Press release:

Computing occupations make up two-thirds of all projected new jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields according to the latest employment projections released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet while computers are everywhere, fewer schools are teaching computer science than 10 years ago. In addition, girls, women and minorities are underrepresented in the computer industry. 

To address this concern, the STEM Enrichment program at Genesee Community College (GCC) is hosting a local site for "The Hour of Code" on Saturday, Dec. 12. GCC is joining the worldwide Hour of Code initiative where Computer Science has been posted on homepages of Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Disney. More than 100 partners have joined together to support this movement. Last year, every Apple Store in the world hosted an Hour of Code and even President Obama wrote his first line of code as part of the campaign.

GCC has invited all of its STEM enrichment students, as well as their friends and family members to join the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Code. The week-long event is being held across the globe from Dec. 7 through 13.

Founded in 2013, The Hour of Code is a nonprofit organization with more than 100 partners – all focused on helping today's generation of students be ready to learn critical skills for 21st Century success. Go to https://code.org/ for more details, including a Ted Talk featuring founder Hadi Partovi. 

Participating GCC students will gather in the College's state-of-the-art computer classrooms on the second floor of the Conable Technology Building from 10 a.m. to noon on Dec. 12. They will have an engaging overview of computer science career opportunities, and complete one hour of hands-on computer programming. 

GCC's STEM enrichment program is operated by the College's ACE (Accelerated College Enrollment) Office, and provides a variety of opportunities for students in grades seven – 12 to connect with STEM through non-credit and college credit courses at GCC.

For more information contact: Karlyn M. Finucane, ACE program specialist, 585-343-0055, ext. 6320

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