Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

schools

May 16, 2022 - 8:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy Central Schools, Le Roy, schools, education, news, notify.

Four people are each vying for one of three trustee seats on Le Roy Central School's Board of Education during Tuesday's school budget vote.

The two candidates with the most votes will be elected to the two three-year terms that are open, and the candidate to come in third will fill the remaining two years on the other available seat.

The four candidates are Peter W. Loftus, Randa Williams, Jason Karcher, and Rachael Greene.

Also on the ballot is the district's $27,708,988 spending plan.  Voters are being asked to approve a $10,663,025 tax levy.  In-district property owners in Pavilion, Bergen, and Caledonia are looking at a projected tax rate of $19. Property owners in the Town of Le Roy pay the same rate they did this year, $24.14. For further explanation of the tax rates and budget, see The Batavian's previous coverage: Le Roy trustees support $66,000 tax levy increase, still lowering tax rate for property owners with assessment adjustments

During the May 10 school board meeting, the four candidates were given time to introduce themselves:

leroysbcandidates2022.jpg

Peter W. Loftus
Loftus has served on the school district board for six years and is seeking a third term.  He is married to Tammy and they have two children.   

He is an engineering manager at RL Kistler Inc.

"Kistler places a real high value on their employees giving back to the community and providing service wherever they can," Loftus said. "This has allowed me a lot of flexibility to get out of work when I need to, to get back here for any committee meeting, interview negotiations, anything like that that takes place in the normal working hours. My work is really understanding about that and provides me with that opportunity."

He said he learned two things when he first started on the school board. 

"The first thing that I learned is that it's just a massive operation," he said. "The running of this district is all the fast-moving parts. Everything's changing all the time. People are leaving. It's a natural path for people to come and go. So you're always filling slots. It's just the way it is.

"And the other thing that I learned -- and this is the biggie -- that they care; the education, and the life preparation of every student in this district, is what drives everybody here."

Six years ago, when he showed up at the Jr./Sr high school to participate in his own children's educations, he picked up a positive vibe just walking around the hallways. Loftus said, and he decided he wanted to be a part of it, so he decided to run for a seat on the board.

"Now, I do understand a lot of the challenges, and there are many things we need to do to be better," Loftus said. "It's not just a happy place where that vibe is going all the time. There are underlying issues. There are things that we need to improve."

And Loftus wants to help guide that improvement, he said, and his experience will prove to be an asset.

"My six years on the board equips me with some experience and some tools to be a more effective, more impactful board member," Loftus said. "I really look forward to putting that experience to use in a third term."

leroysbcandidates2022-2.jpg

Randa Williams
Williams, a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother of Le Roy students, started her involvement with the Le Roy Central School District when her daughter entered kindergarten in 1976. She served on the PTSO and helped get the first playground built, and then a second.

She's been involved with Girl Scouts for 66 years.

"I think that the most important thing is to be involved in your community," Williams said. "I think that's what brought me here."

She thinks more people should get involved with their local schools.

"In a case like this, if you're involved, you know what's going on in your school. And it's very important what's going on here," she said.

Williams said she is excited to get more involved with the district through a seat on the school board.

"I'm very interested in what's going on and I would like to be involved in it," she said.

leroysbcandidates2022-3.jpg

Jason Karcher
Part of what brought Karcher to Le Roy is that he married a young lady from the community and they both wanted a place with a strong sense of community and family.

The Buffalo native arrived four years ago and immediately got involved.  He joined the Le Roy Rotary Club and is now set to become president-elect in July. He's also been involved with the PTSO.

"One of the big things for me was about (finding) some place that I could actually dig in, get my hands dirty, and be a part of something that was larger than myself," Karcher said. "When we made the decision, it wasn't a foregone conclusion about where we would go, but it presented itself really quickly that, with family here, and with all the opportunities that are available here, to be able to come back here and (get involved)."

He and his wife Shannon have a daughter and it was his daughter's love of softball that got him even more involved in the community. 

"About two years ago, we had a huge opportunity where there was going to be no softball, there's gonna be no community of girls softball," he said. "That was a big thing for our daughter to make sure that ( girls softball) could continue on. So Shanna and I jumped in and we formed a 501(C)(3) and got it off the ground, and in two years. Now we have over 100 girls playing softball again here in the community, which we think is fantastic, and we're really excited about it."

The level of involvement led to Karcher being appointed to a vacant seat on the school board.

He works for Apple as an employee relations specialist.

"For me, it's about involvement," he said. "One of the things I would call out is, this is our budget meeting, this is where people could come in and actually get to know our candidates. And this is what we have to write (motion it the largely empty auditorium). And I'll call out, why aren't there more people here? That bothers me. So that's one of the big things, if ever voted on to the school board, is wanting to make a commitment that we need more people here."

leroysbcandidates2022-4.jpg

Rachael Greene

Greene enters the race with more than two decades of experience in education. She started her career as a teacher in her hometown of Warsaw before becoming a principal in Mount Morris.  She was an instructional coordinator for BOCES (a position her husband, Peter, now holds) before becoming superintendent of the Stanley G. Falk School, which is a NYS-approved special day school that provides educational programming for students aged five to 21 who have special learning, social, and emotional needs.

"We have 600 students," Greene said. "We're the largest special education school in New York State -- seven locations and (there are) 44 different districts that we collaborate with. So when I think about what I could bring to the board, I think there's some insight and perspective in the fact that I've been able to sit in many of your positions within the district, not this district, specifically, but in a school system, and understand the roles that each of you plays to make decisions on what's best for kids. But also the perspective of being able to say, wow, you know, 44 districts, what are they doing with this?"

She said she wouldn't see her role as another superintendent in the district, a role Merrit Holly currently fills. 

"I think there's some value in being a thought partner at the table with the board," said Greene, a life-long resident of Le Roy. "In my experience, the other piece I think I would bring to the board is I'm a huge advocate for underrepresented students. When I look at our community of Le Roy and youth, and look at where we were 20 years ago, our poverty levels amongst our families and our students coming through our doors hovered around 10 percent. That trend line has done nothing but grow, where we are at almost 40 percent of our students that come into our school buildings living in poverty every day."

The Greenes have three children going to Le Roy schools, including Andrew, a ninth-grader who attended the meeting with his mother.

"I have a lot of confidence that he also will be in some form of leadership because he's class president, and now president of the Junior Honor Society," she said. "So I'm super proud of that. I think it's important for me as a parent to also model that when you're passionate about something, you want to have a seat at the table. So I'm super proud. He's here to support me."

 Greene said she would serve to support educators and see that both instructors and students -- especially those coming from poor families -- get what they need to succeed.

"I can tell you that our teachers in this district and our staff work so hard to do what's best for kids every day," Greene said. "So, as a board member, I'd want to think about what can we do, not just instructionally, but structurally to provide for what every kid needs in this district. Because the sad part is that two-thirds of those 40 percent don't pass the state exams. That tells me that there's a big gap there and it's our obligation, my duty, I would feel as the board member, and all of ours, to really look at what can we do to break down those barriers for kids every day."

Photos by Howard Owens.

May 13, 2022 - 1:32pm
posted by Press Release in BCSD Foundation, Batavia HS, batavia, news, education, schools.

Press release:

Nominations are being accepted for the 2022 BCSD Foundation, Inc. Scholarship.   This scholarship will be awarded to a graduating Senior from Batavia High School.  The nominee has been successful in their educational program and has sought out skills to further their career.  In addition, they exemplify our Batavia school culture and climate of “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe, Be Connected and Be Ambitious.”

Any local community member may nominate a Batavia HS Senior who meets the above criteria.  Nomination forms are available on the Batavia City School District website, https://www.bataviacsd.org/page/bcsd-foundation. You may complete the Google Form or the pdf document to nominate a deserving Senior.  All nominations need to be received by May 27, 2022.

A copy of the nomination form is attached to this press release.                 

May 12, 2022 - 7:00pm

Batavia City Schools leaders have a “robust” summer school plan, they say.

Summer session will open July 12 and run for a month, to August 11. It’s a countermeasure for the ill effects of pandemic shutdowns. Instead of in the past, when students went to central designated sites, they will go to their own schools this year. Lessons will be taught from 9 a.m. to noon three days a week, and breakfast, lunch and transportation will be provided, said Molly Corey, executive director of curriculum and instruction.

“We’re being deliberate, the kids will stay at their own school. So Jackson is hosting their own summer school program, and John Kennedy and the middle school are as well. And we added extra staff for those locations, and we're combining transportation, that's a big variable as well.” she said during an interview Wednesday with The Batavian. “We want to ensure that we get kids there. And right now our numbers are looking really good. At Jackson, it’s 150, where normally we would have 50 students.”

Those grades — Pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade — are the “critical grades” to reach in July, she said. They will be taught basic literacy skills so that, by third grade, students are expected to “be reading to learn” and to enjoy learning to read.

“So we hired more teachers and we have a longer day than we traditionally have had. Last summer it was a two-hour program; this summer it's a three-hour program just so we have adequate time,” Superintendent Jason Smith said.

Strategies also include pairing students with trusted adults and an element of compassion for what the students have already gone through, Corey said.  The district is targeting 500 students for the summer school program in all three schools while extended days have already been implemented at the high school.

There will also be more teachers, albeit with a more summertime feel, at the middle school. Unlike a stiff remediation vibe, the Ross Street school will offer math and literacy camps with “high engagement” for middle school students and veteran teachers serving as coaches, Corey said.   

“It’s really just hooking them into the learning,” she said. “Giving them more purposeful practice while they do so.”

Smith believes it’s essential to not only bolster students but teachers also.

“Teachers have had very, very busy days, they make thousands of decisions every single day. So we want to give them support, so they can best support our students,” he said. “And one way to do that, one effective way to do it, is to appoint math coaches. We have literacy coaches currently in place through COVID funds as well. At the high school, we’re using the extended day to help kids recover credit from where they didn't meet the expectations during credit from the previous year.”

The district applied for federal COVID funds made available to New York State in 2020. Batavia was awarded $9 million over a three-year period to afford measures such as additional personnel, programs, extended school days and transportation and meals during summer school. 

Smith feels the district must be doing something right, given its recent ranking in U.S. News as being in the top 40 percent of schools in the country.

“So we're doing well,” he said. “We're on track.”

Enrollment is still open for summer school. For more information, call the district at (585) 343-2480.

May 12, 2022 - 6:56pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, learning loss, City Schools, notify, education, schools.

jk_move-up_file_pic.jpeg

While teaching a third-grade class at John Kennedy Intermediate, Molly Corey noticed one particular little girl who said Batavia was not her first school district and most likely wasn’t going to be her last.

The third-grader was chronically absent — about one day each week — and didn’t seem terribly invested in her lessons.

“We were her fourth school, and she said she will be moving again. So her buy-in to wanting to do well really depended on the relationship. I had lunch with the girl, but teachers can’t do that every day. She thought it was special that I was working with her. Whenever she would see me she would light up,” Corey said during an interview with The Batavian. “You know what, it was that relationship that really just helped to keep hooking her; I know our classroom teachers are trying hard with that.”

dr._molly_corey.jpegCorey’s regular job is not as a teacher but as executive director of the district’s curriculum and instruction department. She taught for a while to get an idea about what teachers encounter due to family circumstances and, for the last two years, a change of learning methods due to the pandemic.

Finding meaning in 'Learning Loss' ...
Two phrases that have become the “buzz words” in many school districts are “learning loss” and “social, emotional learning.” But what do they really mean? How did hybrid and remote learning affect kids, and more importantly, what are the remedies being purchased with COVID funds?

Each issue has greatly impacted students across all grades, and perhaps most crucial for children just starting to learn foundational lessons, Corey said.

“So if we start with the littlest ones at Jackson Primary, the incoming kids are really the ones most ready to thrive. It really was merely if anything changed with loss, it was because of quarantines or them being out being sick with a positive (test). So, we really tried hard to keep them on track,” she said. “If you were the first-grader or the second-grader, kids who had gaps in learning from not being here full-time last year, and from the first year of closure, some of the foundation skills that you would expect them to receive, where they're learning to read, and they're learning about basic number zones, we didn't have the same amount of time.”

The focus for teachers has been to catch up those foundational skills that students need to get into their normal curriculum and grade level, she said. Foundational skills include knowing the letters in sounds and understanding how they blend together, she said, then putting them all together in sentences. Those skills are the basics of learning to read and write, she said.

There's a sequence of skills students have to have — the building blocks — needed in order to master those skills and “build upon one another,” Corey said. “And it's a purposeful practice that really helps them to become fluent readers.”

Superintendent Jason Smith said the evidence has been evident through observing students and having conversations with teachers and principals: there are gaps in all grades due to remote learning and losing the consistency of routine.

No matter at what age, even with a solid one-to-one teaching model, it’s a difficult task, Corey said. Just imagine youngsters, especially, sitting at home staring at the computer. Working with one person. All-day long. “You can’t,” she said.

High school students, meanwhile, are struggling with earning enough credits, passing exams and meeting specific criteria for graduating at the end. Although the state Education Department gave out “some free passes” in terms of easing up on requirements for Regents exams, students still needed to acquire certain levels of knowledge," she said.

“But the reality is, we need them to pass the class, and being in person is an important factor to really give them time to show us what they know, with regard to subject,” she said. “So we have benchmark assessments that have told us some of the assignments that they're missing when there's brokenness with their schooling. We were focusing in on our seniors, obviously, we want to help them, but we have a plan in place for what we can do with the other grade levels as well.

“So we're pairing teachers with students, by content, and we're using a credit recovery system called Apex; it guides kids through the course. Because the ultimate goal is to learn and be successful, but the practical outcome is to have X number of credits to get the diploma. It's that balance to give them the compassion that they need, and the motivation to keep them going,” she said.

For Jackson Primary, John Kennedy Intermediate and the middle school, there will be an offering of summer school, taught three days a week. (See related article, “Batavia City Schools on track for robust summer.”)

“But we have these funds available, due in large part, whose goal in large part, is to help us address those gaps or the loss,” Smith said.

The social-emotional learning piece is tied to the kids’ ability to recognize and better regulate their emotions and have ability to interact well with others. Smith learned first-hand just how out of balance some students’ emotions are. He found himself getting involved with a student whose difficulties were escalating, and a report was sent to the superintendent. He helped to connect the student with a social worker and wondered what might have happened if the distraught kid missed out on that needed counseling.

Then there was the fourth-grader who began to cry, and then sobbed uncontrollably. These instances are happening, he and Corey said, and there need to be remedies to help students adjust to more than educational losses; many have mental health needs as well. Some 100 of those students not only had a pandemic to deal with, but they were also part of an ongoing trend of transplants. Throughout the school year, a portion of those 100 kids moves into the district while another portion moves out. Those fluctuations add another layer of need to help acclimate them to a new school, Corey said.

That’s where social-emotional learning comes in. The pandemic didn’t necessarily cause mental health issues as much as it put a spotlight on that piece, Smith and Corey said. In addition to hiring four new teachers to help with the academic shortfalls, another social worker will assist with the mental and emotional issues.

Federal COVID-19 funds were distributed for school districts to play catch-up with gaps due to pandemic shutdowns. Districts in New York State had to apply for the funds, explain the loss, the solutions being put in place and how they would assess outcomes. Smith said that Batavia City Schools was allocated about $9 million for three years.

After nine years at the city school district, Corey is experiencing new territory.

“It's some of the extremes ... Things we've never ever seen before,” she said.

Top Photo: 2019 File Photo of a Moving Up ceremony at John Kennedy Intermediate. Batavia City Schools officials are stepping up lessons, personnel and amount of time available to students to ensure continued progress toward graduation. Photo by Howard Owens.

Inset photo: Molly Corey, executive director of curriculum and instruction at Batavia City Schools. Photo submitted by BCSD

April 29, 2022 - 11:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson School, reading, education, schools, news.

jacksomreading2022.jpg

Children whose parents read to them at home are faster learners, studies show, which is one reason administrators and teachers at Jackson Primary School in Batavia put a strong emphasis on reading.

It's a goal of the school that no child graduates from Jackson to John Kennedy without reading at least grade level, said Principal Maureen Notaro.

"We're promoting early literacy with our "Wild About Reading " theme," Notaro said during the family reading night at the school on Thursday. "Family reading night brings families together to help kids be invigorated and show their love of reading."

Teachers and staff decorated the hallways in a contest to emphasize the "Wild About Writing" theme and Brian Sutton, Steve Hyde, and Officer Miah Stevens judged the wall art, with the winning team getting a pizza party.

This was the first event with a gathering of students and parents at the school in 2 1/2 years.

"Parents who read to their kids get them excited (about reading)," Notaro said. "Kids are so curious. So anything, anything you say or expose them to is just a wonderful experience for them. I always tell parents, any chance you get to read to your children, you know, do it.  Do it in the car, point things out, just involve literacy in everyday life."

Further reading:

Top photo: Miles McCracken, 5, shows off the book he chose to purchase at Jackson School's "Wild About Reading" night on Thursday.  He said, "Reading is cool." 

Photos by Howard Owens

jacksomreading2022-2.jpg

jacksomreading2022-3.jpg

Officer Miah Stevens.

jacksomreading2022-4.jpg

jacksomreading2022-5.jpg

jacksomreading2022-6.jpg

Superintendent Jason Smith

jacksomreading2022-7.jpg

jacksomreading2022-8.jpg

Teachers with their favorite books from childhood were featured in pictures in the foyer of the school.

jacksomreading2022-9.jpg

April 27, 2022 - 8:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, education, schools, Le Roy Central Schools, news, notify.

leroyboeap272022.jpg

Le Roy Central School District is planning to increase the tax levy by $66,000 after calculating how much state aid the district can expect to help cover its $27,708,988 spending plan.

The good news for residents of Stafford, who this year reportedly saw a substantial increase in their property assessments, is that if the numbers hold, their property tax rate for public education will go down about $2.37 per $1,000 of assessed value. The anticipated rate is $19.80. That's 13 cents more than it would have been had the Board of Education decided to balance the budget with reserves rather than increase the levy.

Property owners in the district in Pavilion, Bergen, and Caledonia are also looking at a projected tax rate of $19.

However, property owners in the Town of Le Roy pay the same rate they did this year, $24.14. 

State law requires that all property owners in a district share the burden of education equally so a formula will be applied to Le Roy's tax rate to make it equitable.  

Business Administrator Brian Foeller presented anticipated revenue numbers to board members at a Monday afternoon meeting and then all members of the board participated in a discussion about the tax levy before reaching a consensus decision (no motion nor vote was required) to raise the levy by $66,000.

These are all estimates because final assessment numbers will not be available until July, which will affect the total tax levy.

The tax levy is the total amount of revenue raised through property taxes.  The tax rate is the amount per thousand of assessed value that property owners are billed to pay into the levy.

Board President Jacalyn Whiting (top photo) said she was confused by the Town's decision to forego assessment adjustments this year given the state's required equalization rate and that the town must eventually get assessments up to 100 percent of fair market value.

"How is this going to make things better?" Whiting said.

The spending plan is covered by $16,135,963 in state aid, $10,663,025 tax levy, and $910,000 in local revenues.

Local revenues are:

  • Fund Balance carried forward
  • PILOTS
  • Late taxpayer penalties
  • Out of district tuition paid by other schools
  • Interest earnings of investments
  • Medicaid
  • BOCES Refund

Budget increases include:

  • Professional support and staff salaries, $364,963
  • Special Education out-of-district tuition, $282,000
  • Staff health insurance, $150,721 (a 12.5 percent increase)
  • Grounds/facilities equipment, $81,000
  • Debt payment on existing loans, $56,611

The district is adding one full-time equivalent position, replacing a part-time BOCES employee due to an increase in BOCES attendance. 

A part-time BOCES speech therapist position is being eliminated. There is also a reduction in spending on COVID-19 supplies and several retirements, with not all positions being replaced.

"We've done our part to try and keep this in mind with rising costs," said Superintendent Merritt Holly. "It's tough. These are not easy decisions."

 Whiting agreed, saying the district has done the best it can to control costs.

"This is hard, because I feel we've done a really good job, even adding $66,000 to the levy to bring it to $2 lower per $1,000," Whiting said. "But the assessment part is out of our control. By the same token, you know, we have to balance out here, too."

One thing helping the district this year is the state increased the amount of state aid, a portion called Foundation Aid, to offset shortages to the district in previous years. The increase is only temporary and the district cannot count on it in the future.

Trustee Jason Karcher expressed concern that without a levy increase, the district will face a steeper hill to climb at some point.

"That's gonna be a shock to the system when, and we don't necessarily know when, that would happen," he said. "That's lovely."

Trustee William MacKenzie agreed.

"Eventually the Foundation Aid is going to go away," he said. "It's going to happen."

Trustee Denise Duthe said she believes the district has a history of being responsible for taxpayers' money.

"I think has always done a good job of keeping things basically straight or just a little bit up, not these kinds of wild gyrations," Duthe said. "Everything costs a little bit more. Keep in mind that we want to be as fiscally responsible as we can but we also don't want to do a giant jump next year."

The budget public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 10 at 6 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium.

The vote on the budget and candidates for trustees will be on May 17.

There are four candidates for three open seats.  There are two three-year terms and one two-year term open.  The candidates are  Peter W. Loftus (Incumbent), Randa Williams, Jason Karcher, and Rachael Greene.

Photos by Howard Owens

leroyboeap272022-2.jpg

April 22, 2022 - 6:03pm
posted by Legal Notices in legal notices, Le Roy, Le Roy Central Schools, news, schools.

PUBLIC NOTICE: 

NOTICE TO RESIDENTS A Public Hearing to present information on the revised District Code of Conduct and District Safety Plan will be held on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium. The District Safety Plan is open for public comment from April 19, 2022, to May 18, 2022. Public comments may be made in the District Office or by attending the Public Hearing.

April 22, 2022 - 4:42pm
posted by Press Release in pembroke, schools, arts, education, news, Pembroke Central Schools.

Press release:

Pembroke Central School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.  Now in its 23rd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Pembroke Central School District answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“Our K-12 music department and the consistent quality of vocal and instrumental instruction it has provided to our young Dragons has been nothing short of amazing!” said Superintendent Matthew Calderón. “Receiving this designation for three years in a row is no surprise to me and will have an ongoing positive impact on the district’s music education program.”

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education. 

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

April 3, 2022 - 6:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy Central Schools, Le Roy, schools, education, news.

Administrators with the Le Roy Central School District have been working on the 2022-2023 budget for weeks and are currently proposing $27,708,988 in expenditures, an increase of $839,701 from the 2021-2022 budget, or a 3.13% increase.

Superintendent Merritt Holly said officials still need to compare revenue numbers to help finalize the budget.

School districts do not yet know how much state aid they will receive, which is a significant portion of every district's revenue. Without that number, officials cannot say what the anticipated tax levy will be and what that will mean for the tax rate on property owners in the district.

Under the property tax cap, the district can increase the levy by 2.39 percent.   

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the auditorium of Wolcott School.

March 25, 2022 - 11:38pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, oakfield-alabama, drop-outs, education, notify, schools.

New York State’s high school drop-out rate has declined in recent years, to an all-time low of 5.6 percent, USAfacts.org says.

Still, nobody wants to see students drop out, even if it’s only one or two, as is the case at Oakfield-Alabama Central, Superintendent John Fisgus said during the district’s recent board meeting.

“We hate losing these kids at the last minute. They usually drop out by 17, as a junior, and they only have one year to go,” he said. “We want to see these kids leave with a high school diploma.”

He consulted with other school districts, including Batavia City Schools and Pembroke Central, about setting a legal drop-out requirement to age 17 for Oakfield-Alabama’s district, which has a legal age of 16 currently. The feedback from both schools led him to his proposal to the board: raise the legal drop-out age to 17.

“There were no negatives,” Fisgus said. “The board has the right to make it 17.”

A board member asked how many students this change would affect, and the answer was “maybe one or two.” But, according to the American Psychological Association, dropouts face “extremely bleak economic and social prospects” from not having a high school diploma. National statistics from 2012 showed more than 1 million high school students not graduating and earning that prized diploma. 

Those dropouts, compared to high school grads, are also less likely to find a job and earn a living wage, APA.org stated. 

“Poverty and dropouts are inextricably connected in the three primary settings affecting healthy child and adolescent development: families, schools and communities,” it stated.

Batavia City Schools not only has the higher age limit but also recently touted a 96 percent graduation rate and various educational and career-related activities being offered to upper-level high school students. Pembroke’s graduation rate is 92 percent, and both are higher than the state’s average of 86 percent. August 2021 data reported Oakfield-Alabama’s rate to be 86 percent. 

The remaining districts in Genesee County include Alexander Central, at 95 percent; Byron-Bergen at 98 percent; Elba at 80 percent; Le Roy at 90 percent; and Pavilion at 83 percent.

Lake Shore High School in Erie County made a move similar to Oakfield-Alabama in 2020, citing an 11 percent dropout rate. The school board adopted a new policy that would force students to remain in school until the end of the year in which they turn 17. The only exception is if they have a full-time job.

New York State law was revised in 2019 to extend the option, initially open to larger cities such as Buffalo and New York City, to rural and suburban districts. State law also exempts students who have full-time jobs.

Should Oakfield-Alabama’s board approve this policy change — something that “affects students and families to this extent” — families would be notified through ParentSquare, the district’s communication platform, Fisgus said. 

Board votes can take a while, however, since the group is entitled to up to three readings of a policy before taking a vote. This particular policy change has an expected timeline of approval in April, he said.

“We discussed it as an administrative team, and I am in full support of such a change moving forward,” he said.

March 24, 2022 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, Le Roy Central Schools, news, education, schools, notify.

img_0898leroybabcock.jpg

Watching fellow students learn and grow because of the help you've given them and the friendship you've shown them is one of the most satisfying things in life, Evelyn Babcock told trustees of the Le Roy Central School District on Monday night. 

She recalled her interaction with one boy she tutored through a program called Knights Academic Access Program that she co-founded with her twin brother Brett Babcock.

"'I don't like it (school),'" she recalled a boy telling her.  "It's boring."  She added, exacerbated, "Oh, eighth-grade boys," eliciting laughter from the board, then she continued, "It's rewarding watching someone go from 19 in social studies to a 91 ... he was like ‘hey, this kind of isn’t that bad.’

"So to watch that drive sparked again, to see that drive and motivation and understanding organizational skills and understanding not just the academic portion but understanding optimism and attitude and energy and things like that that go into it, and watching a light go off in their eyes, is one of the most rewarding experiences I could ever say I had yet so far in high school."

Brett and Evelyn are highly motivated students.  They both have scholarships for Ohio State.  Evelyn is set on attending Ohio. She's even named her car "Scarlett" (one of the school's colors -- "I'm a bit obsessed," she told the board). But she doesn't know what she will major in.  She has "10,000 interests," she said.  Brett is a little less sure about Ohio but he's set on entering pre-med and becoming a doctor. 

With that degree of motivation, they found the options available for programs to help them meet their community service requirements were less than satisfying.

"My brother and I were looking for a way to give back going beyond painting rocks or chalk art on sidewalks," Evelyn told the board. "It’s pretty and all but our time is very valuable to us because we don’t have much of it and we're always busy so we wanted to put as much efficiency into our time as possible. We started contacting things like Big Brother/BigSister programs and trying to find a way and we were contacting everyone and there was no response, no results, so we were like, you know what, we’re going to start our own program.  Why not just start something?"

Sophomores at the time, it was the start of the pandemic.  It might be surprising that such motivated students felt they were falling behind academically.  

They thought if that was happening to them, what about students who were already doing poorly in school?  So they decided to start a peer-to-peer tutoring program. 

The twins contacted every person they knew, from administrators to fellow students, to try and get a tutoring program going.

Of course, the school supported it.  They cite former principal Tim McArdle especially for helping get the fledgling program off the ground, but say also Kelly Ronan, Austin Dwyer, and Jen Bertrand were supportive as well.

The reason the program has been successful, Brett told the board, is because it's student-run and there is a strong emphasis on tutors and the younger students building a friendship.

"It's not just tutoring," Brett said. "It's about having friends and having mentors."

"If we just made a tutoring program where you show up after school and you don't want to go to tutor but you're spending 45 minutes after school, I don't think it would be as successful, he said.  "We both preach, get a kid, stick with them, build a foundation, because it will be rewarding when you see them succeed in school but also see them laugh."

There are about 20 other student tutors and currently about 20 students being tutored.  And some of those tutors are ready to lead the program next year, Brett said, explaining that he's not worried about it going away after he and his sister graduate.

Not everyone who wants to be a tutor gets to be a tutor, Evelyn said.  There have been some sophomores who have applied to become tutors but they need to display both academic success and maturity. 

If sophomores are accepted, they tutor students younger than those typically assigned to juniors and seniors so that the tutor can maintain a level of separation and authority.

"The level of maturity needs to be there because you are impacting somebody’s life greatly, so we don’t want to be like, ‘hey, I want to be a tutor.’ No. That’s not how it’s going to work," Evelyn said.

Some students just need help at the end of a marking period.  Others need help all year.  Either way, the program is making a difference, the siblings said.

"We even get messages from their parents saying how it’s not just in school but at home, you can see their confidence rise due to they believe in themselves," Brett said. "They have a little bit more self-confidence because they see their grades rising and they can say, ‘I can actually do this.”  It’s so rewarding and it really shows how just a little step — this isn’t a huge program but for some people it is.  if you can save one person and help them grow as a person I would consider that win."

The board members were duly impressed.

"What you’re doing is awesome," said Trustee Rich Lawrence.  "You're planting seeds and those seeds are going to grow."

Vice President Denise Duthe said, "We're so so proud of you. The fact that you saw or thought that this was going to be something that people needed, and putting hours and hours into it is just outstanding."

The plaudits were followed by a round of applause from board members and administrators. 

Top photo: Brett and Evelyn Babcock present their tutoring initiative to Le Roy Central School Board during a meeting on Tuesday.

March 22, 2022 - 10:49pm
posted by Press Release in le roy hs, Le Roy, Le Roy Central Schools, schools, education, news, notify.

Press release:

On Tuesday, March 22, 2022, the Le Roy Board of Education unanimously approved Dr. David Russell as the new Jr/Sr High School Principal. Dr. Russell will start officially on Monday, April 25, 2022.

Dr. Russell is currently the assistant principal at the Cosgrove (Spencerport) Middle School, a position he has held since 2019. Previously he was the principal of the Western Wayne Summer Academy, a Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES program. Dr. Russell was also a special education teacher at Sodus Central School District and the True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School.

“We are very excited to bring Dr. Russell’s energy and passion to collaborate with our students, teachers, and parents,” said Merritt Holly, Superintendent of Schools. “He is a strong instructional leader who has consistently made positive connections with all stakeholders in his previous experiences. We look forward to Dr. Russell’s leadership as we continue to follow our vision to cultivate a world-class community of learners who exceed core local, state, national, and international standards.”

The mission of the Le Roy Central School District is to provide an exceptional, high-quality educational environment where all learners are empowered to succeed.

Dr. Russell earned a Bachelor of Arts, History, Adolescent Education from SUNY Geneseo, a Master of Education from Roberts Wesleyan College, and a Doctor of Education from the University of Rochester. Along with his special education certification, Dr. Russell also holds New York State certifications as a School Building and School District Leader.

The district posted the position on February 2, 2022, and 17 candidates applied. First-round interviews with four applicants were held on Friday, March 11, 2022. A 15-member committee consisting of students, teachers, parents, administration, and board members narrowed the field to two finalists. Second-round interviews with the administrative team took place on Thursday, March 17, 2022. A final interview with the superintendent was conducted on Friday, March 18, 2022.

Dr. Russell takes over for Mr. Tim McArdle, who left on Friday, February 4, 2022, to take an assistant principal position at Caledonia-Mumford Central School District. The district would like to sincerely thank Mrs. Beth Patton, who has been interim principal since Monday, February 7, 2022. 

March 22, 2022 - 5:24pm
posted by Press Release in Crosby's, news, John Kennedy School, batavia, schools, education.

3.21.22_reid_petroleum_jk_grant.jpg

Press release:

Each year, ExxonMobil offers more than $2M of grant funding to its distributors to support local schools in their marketing area. 

ExxonMobil has awarded John Kennedy Intermediate a $500 Educational Alliance Math & Science Grant under this program.

Reid Petroleum, a local distributor for ExxonMobil, has also matched the $500 donation, bringing the total grant amount to $1K.

The grant is authorized for use in a number of ways, including films, speakers, or field trips to science centers; Student volunteer programs; Scholarships or awards to encourage academic or leadership excellence in math or science; Science fairs, parent/student events; Educational tools, such as computers, math or science books, calculators, software geared toward math or science.

Since 2000, ExxonMobil has donated close to $1.25B in grants for the Educational Alliance program. 

CEO of Reid Petroleum, Paul Reid, shares a vision of education and community involvement and has been involved with the program for close to 15 years, expanding it to include more schools in the past few years under the leadership of Meredith Reid Harris.

This is the second year John Kennedy Intermediate has received a grant from Reid Petroleum/Crosby's.

Submitted Photo: Superintendent Jason Smith, John Kennedy Intermediate Principal Brian Sutton, Pam Kilgore, Team Leader at Crosby’s Batavia, Mike McCarthy, VP of Sales and Marketing, Reid Petroleum, Jack McCarthy, John Kennedy Intermediate Student, John Kennedy Intermediate Assistant Principal Heather McCarthy. 

March 17, 2022 - 8:30am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, notify, City Schools, UPK program, schools, education.

Universal Pre-Kindergarten to accommodate more than 100 children for the 2022-23 school year is on the table for consideration at Batavia City Schools.

A recommendation by Molly Corey is on the school board’s agenda for this week’s meeting. It’s set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Batavia High School, Superintendent's Conference Room, 260 State St.

Corey, the district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, has proposed UPK sites at Imagination Station and GLOW YMCA, in addition to Jackson Primary School, in order to accommodate 112 students. The expected price tag is $672,719, to be paid with federal UPK grant funding, Corey said in a memo to the superintendent. 

In other meeting items, the board is expected to vote on a proposal from Johnson Controls of Rochester for an energy performance contract. Promising a “positive cash flow” from state rebates and energy savings, the contract is for $2,357,531, to be paid off over the course of nearly 18 years at 2.75 percent interest. 

If approved, construction would begin in September of this year with a completion date of August 2023. 

Other votes and discussions include:

  • The 2022-23 preliminary $55 million budget, which includes a 1.62 percent tax levy increase. The board had its first budget workshop on Tuesday of this week to discuss a financial plan that left a gap of $315,716 to be paid for by taxpayers.
  • Setting the official registration, voting, and public hearing dates for the 2022-23 budget.
  • Revising the description of a school social worker to replace an itinerant social worker.
  • Approval of several personnel appointments and resignations.
  • A shared services agreement between Batavia City School District and the Town of Batavia for shared services and equipment use for a five-year term.
  • The purchase of sensory room equipment for Jackson Primary and John Kennedy Intermediate from Fun & Function and School Specialty for $22,031.99.

The meeting includes time for public comments and an executive session to discuss a resolution to “assert paid leave for an employee until further notice,” followed by the vote in open session. 

To view the meeting, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8JI99xyBJt1sGdRzmCW2Kg

March 16, 2022 - 2:32pm
posted by Press Release in BOCES, Alexander, schools, education, news.

j._rebmann_scholarship.jpg

Press release:

Rich Monroe describes Joe Rebmann as a self-starter. Monroe, the ElectroMechanical Trades Instructor at the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center, also noted that Joe tackles projects head-on and is a model student.

Joe Rebmann is a senior from Alexander and is a second-year student in the Electro-Mechanical Trades Program. Joe was recently awarded a $500 School-to-Work Scholarship from the Electrical Association of Western New York. According to the Electrical Association, the purpose of this scholarship is to be used toward the cost of tools for individuals seeking a career in the electrical trade.

Joe was recently chosen to participate in the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program and was selected for a paid co-op at Tambe Electric. Joe has high hopes for this work opportunity as his goal is to go directly into the workforce after graduation.

“After my co-op, I want to continue working and I hope that Tambe Electric hires me. I love to work with my hands, and always had an interest in anything to do with electricity. When I was young, I used to wire circuit boards,” Joe said. “I will use this scholarship to purchase any tools so I’m ready to go to work.”

Monroe is confident that Joe’s co-op will lead to employment because Monroe describes Joe as “career-ready.”

“Joe is a great student who works independently, is able to decipher directions, and follow through with any task. He is an independent thinker and is totally employable,” Monroe said.

Joe recently had a work experience during a school day at the Batavia CTE Center replacing outdoor light fixtures with exterior LED lighting.

 “I worked with five juniors and I was the group leader. I showed them how to replace the fixture from chiseling concrete to making wire pigtails. We were able to replace all the fixtures on the building with little help from adults. I feel that this experience gave me great leadership and efficiency skills,” Joe explained.

Margaret Poray is the Executive Principal of the GV BOCES Batavia Campus. Like Monroe, she believes that Joe will be successful.

“Joe is a fine example of how our CTE programs prepare students for their next step in life, whether it be college or career. Each Batavia CTE Center program integrates both applied and practical skills into the curriculum as students gain hands-on experience in their chosen field. Joe is well-prepared and ready to go to work,” Poray said.

Submitted Photo: Margaret Poray, Executive Principal of the GV BOCES Batavia Campus, Joe Rebmann, and Rich Monroe, the ElectroMechanical Trades Instructor at the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center.  Note:  the photo was taken before the mask mandate was lifted.

March 2, 2022 - 5:30pm
posted by Press Release in St. Paul, schools, education, news.

Press release:

St. Paul is an accredited elementary school in New York State that educates students from 3-year-old-preschool through grade 6.It provides a Christian education that fosters academics and excellence. Children experience a caring environment in which to grow in character and knowledge. Students are treated as individuals. Their unique talents, skills, and learning needs are valued and considered.

Bus transportation is available through the child's home school district, and before-school care is available.

For more information call (585)-343-0488 or send an email to stpaulbatav[email protected].

March 1, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, schools, education, COVID-19.

e2434402-a252-45ac-a067-d2b4f7a6ba1f.jpeg

As Genesee County school officials responded to New York State's decision to remove mask mandates in schools, they kept civility central to their messages. Governor Kathy Hochul made the announcement on Sunday that masks would be optional for districts in New York State starting Wednesday. 

Batavia City School District 
City schools Superintendent Jason Smith sent a letter out to district families confirming that Hochul’s weekend announcement means that “every county in New York State will now have control over masking guidelines,” with the qualifier that districts may still require masks if the county’s COVID-19 data supports it. 

“We support this mask optional decision and look forward to a full return to normalcy, and we will continue to advocate local control,” Smith said to The Batavian on Monday. Part of that control includes how students and families react to the actions of others. 

“On Wednesday, March 2, families may still choose to send their children to school in masks and we fully stand behind the governor’s sentiments that masking is a personal choice, and no bullying of any sort will be tolerated,” Smith’s letter stated. “We will continue to provide information in the coming days leading up to Wednesday, March 2 on how the lifted mandate will specifically affect the Batavia City School District.”

Pembroke Central School
Likewise, Pembroke Central School District families also received a letter with an outline of what and will not be acceptable behavior once the mask mandate is gone. Masks will be optional for everyone, and harassment based on wearing or not wearing a mask “will not be tolerated,” Superintendent Matthew Calderon’s letter stated.

“All individuals, whether choosing to wear masks or not wear masks, will be respectful of every individual's right to choose,” Calderon said.

Pavilion Central School
Pavilion Central School families were reminded to follow district expectations to “respect everyone and their choice, be kind and continue to follow other safety protocols to keep our school community healthy,” Superintendent Kate Hoffman said. 

Although an announcement from Hochul was anticipated, it came earlier than expected, Hoffman said in the letter she sent out to district members. The district will also shift to mask-optional starting Wednesday, she said, with the exception of school buses “until we hear differently.”

The district will monitor COVID-19 data and the district will continue its work with Genesee County Department of Health and the school’s medical director, “as has been our practice,” Hoffman said.

She suggested that parents talk to their children about this upcoming change, and understand that many people look forward to going mask-free while others may still want to wear one. Testing will be available with parent consent or request, she said. 

Byron-Bergen Central School
For Byron-Bergen Central School, Superintendent Patrick McGee reiterated why Hochul chose to lift the mandate: strong COVID-19 vaccination rates, falling positivity rates, declining hospitalization rates, and new guidance from the CDC as criteria for this decision.

“We understand that this news will bring relief to some and cause apprehension for others. Our goal during this transition is to create safe spaces for all students and staff members,” McGee said in his district letter. “Thank you in advance for being understanding of the feelings and concerns of others and their personal choice about masking. Whatever choice a student and family makes, our staff will continue to create a welcoming and affirming environment for all.”

Oakfield-Alabama Central School
Oakfield-Alabama’s board had already approved a mask-optional policy during an emergency meeting on Feb. 9. The vote was a precursor to when/if the governor decided to eliminate the mask mandate in schools. Superintendent John Fisgus sent out a letter to the O-A school community Sunday after Hochul’s announcement, and also plans to follow up with staff.

“I am meeting with our District staff over the next 48 hours to provide direction on how to proceed given the absence of this mandate,” Fisgus said.

His letter, sent out on Sunday, asked that “everyone respect the decisions of each individual within our school community.” He also recognized the difficulty of the past two years, given the “ever-changing guidance and restrictions.”

“This time is long overdue,” he said. “Please know that I will be meeting with our faculty and staff over the next two days given this announcement and to ensure our clarity with the new stated mandates.”

Le Roy Central School
Merritt Holly, superintendent of Le Roy Central School, said the district has already spread the word to students, parents, teachers, and staff about masks being optional come Wednesday. A robocall and emails were sent out on Sunday, with expectations that Monday and Tuesday of this week will provide time for parents and teachers to “discuss what is best for their child/student on Wednesday,” Holly said. 

“We will continue to offer daily testing for those that are interested,” he said. “Overall, we are supporting students, teachers, and staff in having a choice in wearing or not wearing a mask now that the mandate has been lifted.”

Elba Central School
In her letter to Elba’s “Lancer family,” Superintendent Gretchen Rosales shared the news of optional masks and urged families “to consult with your family physician to determine what your child’s best health needs may be.”

Elba Central School has a “plentiful supply of masks” for those wanting to continue wearing them, and an “abundance of rapid COVID test” on hand for any family that would like some. Regardless of an individual’s preference, “we will continue to respect the opinions of each other,” Rosales said.

“Our district’s vision of a respectful, safe, and engaging environment will always be paramount,” she said. “Above all, I want to thank all of you for partnering with us as a school district over the past two years. While not every family is at the same level of comfort, nor does each person agree with lifting a mask mandate, our willingness to work together and remain understanding has been a cornerstone of our community.”

Alexander Central School Superintendent Jared Taft did not respond to requests for comment. 

File photo: New Superintendent Jason Smith is shown with Student Co-Mayor Mackenzie Harmon and Batavia High School Principal Paul Kesler during a prior Monday morning announcement at the high school. Masks will now become optional for students and staff as of Wednesday. Photo by Howard Owens.

February 27, 2022 - 10:08pm
posted by Press Release in schools, education, news, COVID-19.

Press release:

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced plans to end the state mask requirement in schools starting on March 2, 2022. The Governor made this decision based on the analysis of several key COVID-19 data trends and after consulting with health and education experts, as well as parents, teachers and school administrators. The announcement also follows recent changes in metrics used by the CDC to determine risk and transmission levels in communities. Other mitigation measures should remain in place.

"With more New Yorkers getting vaccinated, and the steady decline over the past several weeks in cases and hospitalizations from Omicron, we are now entering a new phase of the pandemic. Because New Yorkers have stepped up, we can confidently remove the statewide mask requirement in our schools," Governor Hochul said. "This is a huge step forward for our kids and communities and I am grateful to the students, educators and parents for their dedication to keeping us all safe—we've reached this milestone because of your hard work."  

New York has made significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. Among large states, New York has the highest rate of adults fully vaccinated for COVID-19, the highest rate of teenagers fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and the second-highest rate of children ages 5-11 fully vaccinated. New York State has experienced a 98 percent decline in COVID-19 cases since the Omicron peak, and a continuous downward trend in cases for 51 consecutive days.  

The number of children testing positive for COVID is declining to levels not seen since before students returned from summer break; yesterday 229 cases were reported compared to a 7-day average of 832 cases at the beginning of the school year. Pediatric hospitalizations have declined by roughly 80 percent since the Omicron peak. 

Ahead of Midwinter break, 4.8 million tests were sent to schools for children to take home. An additional 4.8 million tests will be sent this week for students to take home upon their return to school. In total, 20.8 million tests have been distributed to schools. Over the past six weeks, the State established 261 #VaxForKids sites, bringing the vaccine directly to New York families to help parents and guardians get their eligible children vaccinated and boosted.  

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers, today we are able to lift the statewide mask requirement for schools. As Governor Hochul said, we will remain vigilant as New York moves forward, and our team at the Department of Health will continue to monitor the data and advance early warning monitoring systems like wastewater surveillance. We continue to urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated and get boosted, and we will work with our partners in education statewide to ensure our schools, teachers, and students have the support they need to keep our classrooms healthy and safe." 

State Education Commissioner Dr. Betty A. Rosa said, "I thank the Governor for her leadership. Working together we look forward to keeping our schools safe for students and educators."

Statement from NYSUT:

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta issued the following statement today regarding the governor’s announcement that the statewide mask requirement for schools is ending:

“We welcome this step toward normalcy. The governor is striking the right balance by empowering local officials to use data to determine if and when the mitigation strategies need to change in their areas. As the guidance changes, one thing must remain constant: It’s essential that districts work closely with educators to ensure there is confidence in their health and safety plans.”

February 18, 2022 - 6:05pm
posted by Press Release in cyberbullying, news, City Schools, education, schools.

Press release:

On Thursday, February 17, 2022, the Batavia City School District Board of Education voted unanimously on a resolution endorsing New York State Senate Bill S7600 and Senate Bill S1477A, which serve as amendments to provisions of the State Education and Penal Laws to address an increase in harassment made through the use of electronic communications. 

The State Senate has introduced Senate Bill S7600, sponsored by Senator Edward A. Rath III, amending the State Education Law to include a provision that a person who engages in a repeated course of cyber-bullying of a minor shall be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor, and Senate Bill S1477A, amending the State Penal Law to include contacts via text, private message, direct message, or email or other electronic communication in the definition of the offense of aggravated harassment in the second degree. S7600 is currently under review by the State Senate Education Committee, and S1477A has passed the State Senate and is awaiting passage by the State Assembly. 

The Batavia City School District's Code of Conduct expressly prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying. With the approval of the resolution, "the Board of Education hereby affirms its commitment to foster a safe and inclusive learning environment for its students free from all forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying, and supports the efforts of the State Senate to adopt legislation which is consistent with that commitment. This resolution shall take effect immediately." 

"It was important for the Board of Education to show our support for Senator Rath's cyberbullying bill. It is our top priority to ensure students in our district remain safe, healthy, and free from bullying of any kind–and the endorsement of this bill affirms that," said Alice Ann Benedict, BOE President.

"We were happy to work with Senator Rath on endorsing this important and timely initiative. We look forward to the bill passing for the safety of the students throughout New York State," said BCSD Superintendent Jason Smith.

"It is no secret that our children are facing many challenges these days. Unfortunately, with the rise in internet use comes the danger of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying incidents are on the rise, and we must do something to protect our children. That is why I have introduced legislation to make cyberbullying a misdemeanor. Teaching our children that their actions on the internet carry consequences is critical," said Senator Rath.

February 15, 2022 - 4:45pm
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in education, schools, news.

annemarie_img_1326.jpg

Teaching has changed drastically over the years.  Teachers continue to work for our children, meeting all the demands put on them, but they also have humorous moments they will never forget in their careers.

In 1972, I was fortunate to get my first teaching job at Wolcott Street School in Le Roy. So many of my early memories took place at that school.  I always loved teaching and hopefully inspired young minds to always reach for the stars.  My memories stay embedded in my heart as a teacher. 

I will focus on the funny side of my teaching career. An early memory was teaching my third-grade students about deserts as one of the world's regions. I brought in the sand; students brought in cactus plants, we made a paper mache camel and a mural depicting life on a desert. Then, to make it seem authentic, I turned up the thermostat in my classroom to show what it was like to survive in a desert. First, I didn't realize you NEVER adjust the thermostat, and secondly, my thermostat was the main link to the 12 classrooms on my floor. 

I was prepared when I gave my first standardized test to my class. I had just clicked my husband's stopwatch when one of my students asked if she could use the restroom. Holding on to my stopwatch, I asked if she could wait.   Whether they needed to go to the bathroom or not, every child was asked to try from that day forward. I learned a sad life lesson that day. 

My very first observation by the principal was a math lesson. I was so nervous! It was about 10 minutes into my lesson when a little boy raised his hand and asked how the earth stays up in the sky. As my principal waited for my answer, I explained we would talk about that after my lesson. 

I always felt that you could turn any event into a lesson and an adventure. For example, I took my class for a walk, not knowing I needed permission first. We began walking down Main Street and approached the Wiss Hotel; Donnie Pangrazio's grandpa was outside and invited us in, so my class had a soda and returned to school.

By the time I returned, I was asked to see the principal. It seemed he had been flooded with calls about the wandering teacher and students.

One morning a 3rd-grade student shared how excited he was that his mom and dad bought a bicycle built for two; he asked me the bike's name. Unfortunately, I mistakenly told him it was a condom rather than tandem. There were many laughs over the years about that remark.

After our daughters were born, I got a job teaching in the Batavia School District. I continued to make memories.

I loved to take my students for a walk. We would walk over to Batavia, visiting the Holland Land Office Museum, Historical Batavia Cemetery, and other landmarks. One day, we stopped at Kibbe Park to talk about how important the Tonawanda Creek was to our early settlers. Unfortunately, the trip was cut short when I realized we were at a particular part of the park where young lovers would park.   As my students discovered the protection of their lovemaking, I realized immediately that we must leave the park.

I loved taking my class on field trips, and I was so lucky to have had an administrator who supported my overnight trips to Albany and New York City. A highlight of one of my NY trips was taking my class to Yankee stadium. I think every father in that class went as a chaperone. I have to admit I was not a baseball enthusiast. We had a tour of the stadium. I can still remember my class sitting in the Yankee dugout as I walked backward on the field to take their picture with my panoramic Instamatic camera. I noticed all the dads were smiling. I thought that was unusual until two burly men were at my side on the field out of nowhere. They were questioning me on what I was doing on the field. I thought that was a silly question explaining I was taking a picture of my class. They weren't impressed with my explanation and kept saying; you are on the Yankee Stadium field. After being escorted off the field by the unfriendly security, I noticed the fathers were laughing. Walking on the Yankee Stadium field is only reserved for the Yankees.

It was a huge responsibility to take children on an overnight field trip. I would do a room check every trip to ensure the children were ready for bed. Every room had a parent as a chaperone. One night on my room check, I kept knocking on the door to make sure the children in every room were ready for bed.  Finally, the door opened, and a young adult was staring at me with his girlfriend behind him, saying, no, we are not ready for bed. As I was trying to apologize, I made sure I put a post-it note on every student's door. I mistakenly thought we had the entire wing.  

I was constantly learning life lessons as a teacher. I always had classroom pets. I felt it taught the children responsibility, and for many, it was the first time they had a pet. For example, we had a hamster that would frequently escape, so I just left food out for Fluffy. One night I was told our hamster visited a parent's meeting in the faculty room and scared many of the members as he paraded around. That particular pet also attacked student permanent record folders, munching on the records.  

I hope some of my memories brought a smile to your face, and please understand my students did succeed academically.  I just felt if I made learning fun, they would also remember and create their memories. I know many of my colleagues have their humorous stories. I hope some of them will be inspired to share after reading this article. Times have changed drastically since the beginning of my career. First of all, you would never take your class on a walk without permission from the administration and the parents. Today, not many districts would grant an overnight field trip to 4th-and 5th-grade students. The only safe classroom pet is a fish, and you never adjust a thermostat. Most of all, bathroom breaks before any test are a must!

I am still teaching and creating memories. I hope mine brought a smile to your face.

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button

News Break