New Batavia school board member embraces the values of communication, cooperation
Lifelong Batavian John Reigle knows firsthand the importance of teamwork and communication – qualities that he says will serve him well as he takes a seat on the Batavia City School District Board of Education.
Reigle (inset photo right) was a standout wide receiver and kick returner at Batavia High School who earned a football scholarship to South Dakota Tech upon graduating in 1997. He played for three years at the Rapid City, S.D., college, studying business, before returning home.
Twenty years later, his passion for the gridiron continues as commissioner of Batavia Bulldawgs Youth Football, a program that he has been involved with for the past decade.
Earlier this week, Reigle -- father of two Batavia school students and a third who graduated this year -- was appointed to the district’s board of education to replace Patrick Burk, who stepped down after 34-plus years on the board.
“I’ve been involved with the youth in the community through the Batavia Bulldogs and in youth sports with my kids growing up, but I wanted to get involved on the education side of it as well,” Reigle said. “I think it’s important for our district to have parents actively involved, everyone working together on behalf of the students and teachers.”
Reigle attempted to get on the board in June as a write-in candidate, falling short as Alice Ann Benedict (the current president), Barbara Bowman and Tanni Bromley were elected to the three open positions. Still, he garnered 489 votes – an impressive amount as a write-in.
“Superintendent (Anibal) Soler (Jr.) and Business Administrator (Scott) Rozanski reached out to me to see if I was still interested – to make sure that nothing had changed in my life – and when I told them I was, they said the board was interested in having me finish out Pat’s term (which ends in June 2021),” Reigle said.
He was sworn in at Monday’s night board meeting.
Reigle, 41, said the campaign process proved to be an eye-opening experience.
“Just talking to a lot of people – most didn’t know who was on the board or how many people sat on the board,” he recalled. “I hope I can be that connection with the community with the families that I know, to communicate to them that they can voice their opinions and bring them to the board.”
Calling it a “unique year” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes in how students are taught, Reigle praised administrators for “coming up with the best plan for our district.”
“It’s definitely a unique year with the hybrid approach. I really think our administrators did a great job of gathering the feedback from the parents,” he said. “A little over 75 percent of the parents wanted in-school and I think about 20 percent wanted the hybrid, remote learning. I think they did a great job of putting a plan together to fit what the families wanted.”
Reigle said he knows many families in the district and is familiar with a lot of the teachers.
“Knowing families with kids attending in the different (school) buildings will be good,” he said. “And I know a lot of the teachers, I think that will be helpful as well … to be a voice for the teachers as well. They’re a big part of the success at Batavia.”
He said teachers “went above and beyond” in the spring and summer to enable students at all levels to advance.
“Look at the challenges that they’ve had, having to go from no plan or expectation of having everything shut down in March, and still having to teach the kids. The way that they responded was amazing, from communicating with the kids, you saw all the events at graduation to make it special – not only for the seniors but for the eighth-graders who were graduating from middle school and the kids at Jackson School who were graduating into John Kennedy.”
Reigle said he looks forward to working with what he sees as “a great board of education that is eager to listen and do what’s best for the district” and to learn from Benedict, another lifelong Batavian who previously served on the board.
Benedict said Reigle will be a welcome addition.
“We are excited to have John Reigle on the board of education,” she said. “He is enthusiastic … and can give us a new perspective on issues that come to us. We are happy that he was willing to fill our open seat to complete a seven-member board.”
Reigle, manager of Timebuyer Auto Sales on West Main Street, and his wife, Ashlee, live in the City of Batavia. They have three children – Bryce, a 2020 BHS grad who is attending Genesee Community College; Mackenzie, a senior at BHS where she is a first-team all-league girls’ basketball player, and Jordan, a third-grader at John Kennedy Elementary School.
Burk: Time was Right to Retire
Burk, 63, said he had planned to retire at the end of the 2020-21 school year – when his term expired -- but said that he sped up the timetable as a result of his “confidence” in the leadership of Benedict and “the genuine interest” of Reigle, his replacement.
“So basically after 34-plus years it was time for me to pick me – to concentrate on my other work and opportunities,” he said. “It’s bittersweet, but I feel really good about it.”
Burk said he still has many irons in the fire, so it’s not like he riding off into the sunset.
He said he will now have more time to help establish Main Street 56 Theater at the City Centre (he’s the president of Batavia Players) and continue his role as a consultant for Lee Publications.
He also is the executive director of the Genesee Valley School Boards Association, which represents 22 school boards in Western New York.