In his opening remarks for the last class of Notre Dame graduates he will oversee, Principal Wade Bianco bragged about the parochial high school by way of praising the accomplishments of the Class of 2023.
"This class, 37 of them, 37 graduates, has a four-year GPA, that is 16 quarters in an unweighted school -- no grades are cushioned. Here, there is no cushion. You got to earn it. This class has an 8.71 GPA."
The class, he said, has earned $3,719,068 in scholarships.
He said the average graduate in the Class of 2023 is leaving high school with 22 college credits.
"When you come to our school, you can take that last year of college and knock it off," Bianco said. "Most of our graduates are done with college after three years because they front-load many of their courses at our school with teachers that they know and trust, and what better way to earn college credit at a reduced cost? And our kids have done an incredible job with that."
After noting that Notre Dame -- though he said some people won't believe it -- is an academics-first school, he listed the 12 sports teams that won sectional titles in the past four years, including two in girls basketball, two in girls soccer, a long with baseball, volleyball, boys basketball, girls swim, tennis, and football.
The co-salutatorians were Maylee Green and Aaron Treleavan, who used their speeches to also highlight the accomplishments of their classmates, from involvement in sports to academic pursuits and school clubs.
Valedictorian Brenna Munn said the Class of 2023 faced many challenges and face new challenges ahead but that the class is ready to step into promising futures.
"What matters now is the impact this class makes on the world," Munn said. "We will no longer roam our two hallways. We'll walk along city streets or from lecture hall to lecture hall. Whether our high school participation included a team sport or clubs, we now find ourselves thrust into society with fewer activities but with an impact on a much higher scale."
The worst fire season on record in Canada, according to news reports, is causing a decline in air quality throughout large parts of the United States, including Western New York.
As a result, Batavia City Schools are canceling all outdoor activities for the rest of the day, on the advice of the County Health Department, Superintendent Jason Smith announced.
"There are no concerns with indoor air quality at this time," Smith said.
The cancellation includes the annual color run at John Kennedy Intermediate School.
In Canada, more than 6.7 million acres have already burned in 2023.
In Quebec, around 14,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes. More than 150 fires are still burning in the province, according to CBC News. In Nova Scotia, officials said Sunday one wildfire covers nearly 100 square miles, was still burning out of control, The Associated Press reported.
UPDATE 1:03 p.m.: The Batavia Girls Flag Football sectional semifinal game scheduled for tonight has been postponed until 7 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, at 7 p.m., at Van Detta Stadium. Tickets already purchased for the game can be used tomorrow.
UPDATE 2:10 p.m.: We asked other school superintendents for updates on their districts' plans. Here is what we currently know:
Oakfield-Alabama: Nothing scheduled, no cancelations plans currently.
Pavilion: No after-school activities scheduled, so nothing has been canceled, and Superintendent Mary Kate Hoffman notes: "We have shared information with our faculty about current air quality conditions and appropriate precautions. ...We will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary precautions."
Byron-Bergen: The following statement was issued to parents: "Due to outdoor air quality advisories, Byron-Bergen schools are limiting outdoor activities for the remainder of the day. This includes after-school outdoor activities and sports."
Variety, choice, quality ovens, a modern menu system, and health options are helping the Le Roy Central School District deliver nutritious and popular breakfasts and lunches to students, Melissa Saunders told the Board of Education at its regular meeting on Tuesday night.
Saunders is the district's school lunch manager.
During her presentation, she ticked off a number of accomplishments for the cafeteria staff during the current academic school year.
Among the accomplishments was a switch in online menu distribution from PDFs to a database-driven menu platform called Nutrislice.
"This has made my job a lot easier," Saunders said. "It's given me a lot more flexibility with the menu. It allows me to make real-time changes to the menu that everyone can see instantly."
The system allows her to store all the different food items that can go into making up a school day's breakfast and lunch menus as well as add products. When compiling a menu, she can include nutritional information along with allergens.
"It's a really big project, adding all that information for every single product," Saunders said. "I mean, just tracking down nutrient analysis for some of these products is this challenging, but it's something we've been working on. It's something that we will continue to work on through the summer."
A board member asked if she makes a menu change is a notification sent to parents. She said there is no automatic notification, but if it's a significant change, she does send out a notification.
A new purchase this year is combi-ovens.
"They can add a precise amount of steam or a precise amount of browning to any food product," Saunders said. "My cooks love them. It has the capability of cooking with steam or cooking with heat, or cooking with a combination of steam and heat to get a precise moisture and browning on food products."
The ovens the district purchased, she said, were manufactured in Germany and are the #1 combi-ovens on the market.
Saunders has also been trying to serve students more fresh fruit, a program partially funded by the federal government.
"We've been really scaling back on the amount of canned fruit we use," Saunders said. "It still has a place within the menu. There's still some products that the kids really like, and we will continue to use, so it's not that I'm not going to use it or the goal is to never use it but to really ensure that the majority of what they're getting is fresh. The reason for that is that during the canning process, food loses its nutrients. We've been using for fresh fruit this year -- we've used strawberries, we've used cantaloupe, leeks, honeydew, melon, watermelon, kiwi, clementines, blueberries, pears, oranges, apples, bananas. We've been trying to give them a really good variety."
Saunders is also working on scaling back the number of food items that include whey protein as filler.
"It's in a huge amount of products to use across the board," Saunders said. "Personally, from my interest in nutrition, I feel like it would be an improvement to our program to use less of (whey protein filler). Again, just like with the canned products, we won't necessarily be able to completely get rid of it, but can use some cleaner products without whey protein fillers."
She said she is now buying products like chicken tenders, chicken nuggets, and popcorn chicken, that doesn't use whey protein fillers. She's also found a nearby New York company that makes meatballs without whey protein filler. They're also allergen-free meatballs.
"That's a focus for next year," She said. "We were awarded some money from a local food and school cooperative grant that's going to allow us to purchase some more New York foods. I can put it towards things like the meatballs."
For breakfast, the staff had been serving prepackaged meals, but during the recent National Breakfast Week, the staff went in a different direction.
"It didn't allow for a lot of choice," Saunder said. "So during National School Breakfast Week, we discontinued using those, and they now have a variety of different cereals, cereal bars, and little snack options that they can create their own breakfast bag."
The number of meals the district served increased when meals were free during the pandemic, Saunders noted, but the district is still serving more meals than it did before the pandemic.
Districtwide participation in breakfast is up 45 percent over the 2018/19 school year, and participation is up seven percent for lunch.
The variety of choices for students, which always includes warm foods and things like yogurt and fresh fruit, is helping to drive meal participation, she said.
In April, The Batavian reported about issues the district was facing with unpaid meal bills for some families. Superintendent Merritt Holly told the school board that staff was trying to work with families to handle the topic in a sensitive manner. The district at the time was owed $2,751.58 for meals that had not been paid for at the time they were served (the district has a policy of providing a meal to every student who wants one, requiring students who don't have any money with them to pay for it).
The Batavian's story promoted two people to come forward and offer to make donations toward paying the unpaid bills. This evening after the school board's regular meeting, Holly said the district has yet to work out how best to accept those donations, and he isn't sure how much those people are planning to donate. He doesn't know, he said, if the donations will cover all of the unpaid bills, which have likely gone up in the past month, he said.
Get off the couch, put down the phone and get out of the house to make a difference in the world. Some rudimentary but important words of wisdom from this year’s commencement speaker for Genesee Community College’s Class of 2023 this weekend.
As keynote speaker, retired attorney and GCC alum Benjamin Bonarigo mused about how and what one can say to this generation of graduates full of excitement and possible angst about how to storm the life before them and make a worthwhile impact.
After all, Bonarigo’s mom accepted his early decision to return home after one college semester, due to family circumstances, with the admonishment to continue his education. Her words were understanding but moving, to the point that her son eventually fulfilled his promise to carry on with his schooling as a first-generation college student, graduating first from GCC in 1977.
For the next four years, he studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business management in 1979 and then his Juris Doctorate in 1982.
So he knows that words matter. And Bonarigo listened not only to what his mom said, but knew that she “recognized the importance of education, even though hers was limited,” he said.
“I’m so grateful to her and to GCC because she provided the direction and GCC the foundation for me to continue up the educational ladder. I wouldn't be standing here without both of them in my life. For those of us here, like myself, who lived a good portion of our lives. I know what you may be thinking, as I am, that we should be using our life experiences to direct these graduates like my own mother did to tell them what to do, how to do it, and what to look out for along the journey to come,” Bonarigo said during the 55th annual commencement ceremony at the Richard C. Call Arena in Batavia. “After all, who better to lay out a plan for them than those of us who have been through many of life's ups and downs and who have had to face many of life's challenges. No doubt.
“We have an obligation to help them down life's winding pathway. But my question to all of us here today is, do we have that right? Our world has made tremendous advances in our lifetime. We can fly rocket ships to Mars with regularity. A driverless car can chauffeur us anywhere we want to go,” he said. “Almost all of us have in our pockets that computer that we use to research to buy anything in a day or to call, text or do math, or email anyone in the world. It's been said before, and most would agree, that we live a more affluent lifestyle than generations before us.”
He added that, despite all of those remarkable developments, “We leave this generation with several problems,” such as mental health issues, dramatically increased suicide rates over the last decade, and unyielding spikes in drug addiction.
“Even with all the affluence and wealth we have acquired, social unrest is out of control, and the politics of the day just adds fuel to the fire,” he said. “People are dying all over this world, for reasons that none of us can really comprehend. And that's just the shortlist. As we look at this, are we really in the best position to lay out the plan for these folks? What has become clear to those of us who have lived long enough is that material things don't bring us true happiness.
In fact, those of us like me who have seen the sun rise thousands of times, are desperately trying to get rid of stuff that in earlier days meant so much to us. We have lived the dream of chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Are we really better off for it? Are we fulfilled by our success and acquiring things?” he said. “Graduates, would you believe us if we told you that unless you have a higher purpose in life than acquiring worldly goods, you may be unfulfilled in this life? This seems contrary to everything that you've been taught, which is to be like PacMan, acquiring everything that comes your way.”
He quoted England’s late Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Dr. James Sunset, GCC’s president, talked about “what we give” — more specifically, about what those on campus have given to students by their very own accounts. Graduates have shared with him how parents, family, friends and others have helped along on their educational journey, and he asked for a round of applause to thank them all on this culminating day of all efforts. But they weren’t the only ones, he said.
“You've also told me about another group of strong supporters that have helped you along the way, that pushed you and challenged you and encouraged you to achieve your best,” Sunser said. “They're the faculty and staff of the college. They believe in you and were willing to give you the best they had by sharing their knowledge, and especially their time.”
It’s about taking a stance to care that matters, Bonarigo said. Not being involved breeds indifference, he said, pointing to the big picture of life.
“Indifference to the greatest democracy in the world occurs when we don't feel our vote is worthwhile. When we feel it is more comfortable to complain about the way things are run, than to make a difference by running them ourselves,” he said. “So I say to you, get off social media, get off the couch, get out of the house, make a difference in this world, do the things that we may not have been so good at. Maybe, ladies and gentlemen, our problems are not as great as I make them out to be today.
“I’ve taken a very close look and studied these graduates. And they're actually smarter and more aware than we ever were. They are energetic and bright. This will allow them to recognize easily our shortcomings and failures. I see in them a strength, a commitment and resolve to seek a better way forward to see the need to live in peace and harmony, not only with their neighbors, but all the people of the world,” he said. “They will find a way to smooth out the bumps in the path that we leave behind with their intelligence, hard work and ability to give more of themselves than we ever did.
"My hope is that we can all live long enough to see and appreciate the differences that they will make. Let me take this final moment to tell these graduates something we all believe and that we know we have a right to say: that we are also very proud of you and how much we believe in you, and the future you will create.”
Bonargio has been a well-worn name in this area, Batavia especially, having founded Bonarigo and McCutcheon Law Firm 40 years ago, and also previously working as an attorney for the city and town of Batavia and village of Oakfield, president of Genesee County Bar Association and several other professional and civic involvements, including Batavia youth football, Holland Land Office Museum, Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, Literacy Volunteers, and Little League Baseball.
Adhering to the motto "Once a Cougar, always a Cougar," he ended his speech with those words and firmly placed a GCC Cougar-themed baseball cap on his head.
To view more than 60 photos from GCC's commencement ceremony on Saturday, click here.
Here are the results currently available from school districts in Genesee County for their 2023 school budget, propositions, and board elections. This post will be updated with additional results as they become available.
Alexander Central School District
PROPOSITION #1 - BASIC BUDGET Shall the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District be authorized to expend the sum set forth in the budget for 2023-2024 in the total amount of $20,847,885, and to assess and levy upon the taxable property of the District the necessary tax therefore?
Yes 173 No 57
PROPOSITION #2 – BUS PURCHASES - Resolved that the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District is hereby authorized to acquire (2) 64-passenger school buses and (1) small school bus, at an estimated maximum aggregate cost of $376,125, and such to be funded from the Bus Reserve, as permitted by law.
Yes 174 No 57
PROPOSITION #3 - EQUIPMENT CAPITAL RESERVE FUND - Resolved, that the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District is hereby authorized to expend $140,619 from the existing 2018 & 2021 Equipment Capital Reserve Fund for the acquisition of (2) two wide view printers with estimated cost of $8,900, (1) Ventrac Mower with an estimated cost of $63,800, and (1) plow dump truck with plow with an estimated cost of $67,919 as permitted by law.
Yes 184 No 46
PROPOSITION #4 - ESTABLISH CAPITAL RESERVE FUND
Resolved that the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District is hereby authorized to establish a Capital Reserve Fund pursuant to section 3651 of the Education Law (to be known as the “2023 Capital Reserve Fund”), with the purpose of such fund being to finance construction, reconstruction, improvement and equipping of school buildings and facilities; such capital costs being of a type that would be eligible for financing under the local finance law, and costs incidental thereto, the ultimate amount of such fund to be $975,000, plus earnings thereon, the probable term of such fund to be ten (10) years, but such fund shall continue in existence until liquidated in accordance with the Education Law or until the funds are exhausted, and the sources from which the funds shall be obtained for such Reserve, with an initial minimum deposit of $50,000 from current fund balance at year end.
Yes 178 No 51
PROPOSITION #5 - SCHOOL BUS RESERVE FUND - Resolved that the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District is hereby authorized to establish a School Bus Reserve Fund pursuant to section 3651 of the Education law (to be known as the “2023 School Bus Reserve Fund”), with the purpose of such fund being to finance the purchase of school buses, vehicles and equipment that would be eligible for financing under the local finance law, and costs incidental thereto, the ultimate amount of such fund to be $500,000, plus earning thereon, the probable term of such fund to be ten (10) years, but such fund shall continue in existence until liquidated in accordance with the Education Law or until the funds are exhausted, and the sources from which the funds shall be obtained for such Reserve with an initial minimum deposit of $50,000, and (ii) amounts from budgetary appropriations from time to time, and (iii) unappropriated fund balance made available by the Board of Education from time to time, and (iv) New York State Aid received and made available by the Board of Education from time to time, all as permitted by law.
Yes 173 No 56
ELECTION OF BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBER-ONE POSITION FOR A TERM OF FIVE (5) YEARS - VOTE FOR ONE (1).
Jadriene Balduf 68
Natalie Loranty 61
Sara Fernaays 97 - Winner
David Newton – 1
Don Smith - 1
Batavia City School District
Budget Yes – 263 No – 65
#2 Student Ex-Officio Yes – 293 No – 37
#3 Establish Capital Improvements Reserve Fund, 2023 Yes – 260 No – 66
Board Member Election
Two (2) Positions (7/1/23-6/30/26) to be filled as follows:
Alice Ann Benedict - Votes 290
Barbara Bowman - Votes 277
Byron-Bergen Central School District
Proposition 1, school budget: YES 380 NO 108
Proposition 2, school bus purchase: YES 386 NO 105
Proposition 3, capital reserve fund: YES 372 NO 116
Proposition 4, Technology equipment reserve: YES 368 NO 121
School board election:
Lisa Forsyth, 331
Amy Phillips, 270
Lynn Smith, 283
Cindy Matthews, 300
Elba Central School District
Proposition #1 – Authorize the Board of Education of the Elba Central School District No. 1, Towns of Elba, Byron, Stafford, Batavia and Oakfield, County of Genesee, State of New York to expend $11,708,369 as set forth in the proposed 2023-24 budget and further authorize the necessary tax levy to support this budget: Yes – 110 No – 11
Proposition #2 – Authorize the Board of Education of the Elba Central School District to request additional state aid for energy savings contract improvements under an energy performance contract separately authorized by the board of education; which energy savings contract requires additional voter approval to be eligible for additional enhanced state building aid: Yes – 114 No – 6
Proposition #3 – Authorize the Board of Education of the Elba Central School District to purchase one (1) 65 passenger school bus, at an estimated aggregate cost not to exceed $168,883 and to appropriate and expend from the existing Capital Bus and Vehicle Replacement Reserve Fund for such costs: Yes – 111 No – 9
One Board Member elected for a five-year term commencing on July 1, 2023 and expiring on June 30, 2028:
Proposition #2: Haxton Public Library Yes: 442 No: 89
Board of Education Members:
Jackie Yunker-Davis - 450
Pete Zeliff - 353
Natalie Emerson - 351
*Elected to three-year terms commencing July 1, 2023
Carol D'Alba - 424
Lynette Crawford - 421
Denise DiMatteo - 409
Jessica Baker - 407
Janet Klotzbach - 47
*Elected to five-year terms commencing June 1, 2023
Pavilion Central School
Proposition 1: Annual Budget Referendum 2023 - 2024 The Board of Education has approved, for your consideration, a budget for the 2023-2024 school year in the amount of $18,869,393. Overall, this reflects a year-to-year spending increase of $582,042 or 3.18 percent. The tax levy will increase by $85,396 or 1.5 percent to $5,778,383. YES -- 192 NO -- 26
Proposition 2: School Board Member Election.
Chris Jeffres, 115
Lana Flint, 34
Roxanne Holthaus, 61
Proposition 3: Hollwedel Memorial Public Library Trustees.
Kelley Harris, 162
Joan Gray, 166
Pembroke Central School District
Proposition 1 - School Budget: 277 Yes, 98 No
Proposition 2 - School Buses: 277 Yes, 98 No
Board of Education election : One 5-Year Board of Education Seat: 316 votes for incumbent John Cima
One 2-Year Board of Education Seat (unexpired term): No one ran for this seat. There were 67 total write-in votes. with 15 votes for Randy Fancher, 11 votes each for Salvatore Ianni and Michael Geck, 1 vote for Elmer Fudd and "a bunch of other real and imaginary names," Superintendent Matthew Calderon said.
Jane (Haggett) Paladino, longtime music influencer as Batavia High School's music teacher and department chairperson, delivers her final swan song as conductor during a band concert Tuesday evening at the high school's Frank E. Owens Auditorium.
Paladino is retiring from the district and looking forward to new adventures ahead -- albeit with staff, students and parents enriched by her lessons and saddened by her departure.
The Board of Trustees of Notre Dame High School is pleased to announce that Mrs. Melissa Lindner has been named the new principal of Notre Dame High School of Batavia, effective July 1, 2023.
President of the Board James Sutherland made the announcement, saying, “We are excited to welcome Melissa to our Notre Dame family. Her experience in private education is extensive. She comes to ND from Saints Peter and Paul School in Williamsville, NY, where she served as principal for the last four years. Melissa has a strong history as a school leader, teacher and coach. Her impressive background in coaching includes both primary and high school level experiences, where she oversaw the Athletic Director and coaching staff, but most notably, she has coached at the collegiate level as well.”
Mrs. Lindner brings a wealth of experience and commitment to Catholic education. She has a passion for STREAM, (integration of Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts and Math) and was a featured presenter at the National Catholic Education Conference on the subject in 2022. Melissa is looking forward to inspiring faculty to have an active focus within STREAM education and to be an instructional leader who will work collaboratively with staff and parents to provide a positive impact on teaching and learning.
“It is an honor to be coming to an established preparatory school environment whose excellence is always at the forefront. As a dedicated Catholic School teacher, coach and administrator, I look forward to empowering the school community to continue to grow in all aspects while keeping the strong traditions of Notre Dame always in perspective”, Lindner said.
She would like to thank the Board of Trustees for their confidence in appointing her, commenting, “as soon as I walked through the doors of the school, I felt like part of the ND family.”
“For over 70 years, ND has left an indelible impression on our local community, as her sons and daughters have gone on to impact communities throughout our nation and our world”, states Sutherland. “We are proud to see a new era of leadership as Melissa Lindner brings both impressive experience as well as a strong background as a Catholic School educator.”
Please join the Board, staff and faculty of Notre Dame in welcoming Mrs. Melissa Lindner to her new position.
Storytime, games, crafts, and hot dogs were all part of the fun of Jackson Primary Reading Night on Wednesday evening, but the highlight of the night for hundreds of clapping, laughing, and screaming school children was Corey The Dribbler.
Corey The Dribbler (Corey Rich) is a former Harlem Globetrotter and eight-time Guinness World Record holder. After getting the attention of the children with his spectacular ball-handling skills, he shared a positive message about how the students can reach their goals and treat others with respect.
After a short hiatus, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library returns to the Pembroke Central School District. The Kiwanis Club of Pembroke Corfu Darien, along with The Richter Family Foundation, joined forces to reintroduce this free book program to children 5 and under.
Since the beginning of its operations in 2004, the Richter Family Foundation has focused on the needs of children and educators. Now, the foundation has added Pembroke to its long list of school districts it supports.
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, created by the country icon herself, was founded on the desire to inspire young children to love reading. Parents who sign their children up will receive one free book a month mailed directly to their home with the child’s name on their new book.
Parents can register online or in person at the Corfu Public Library. To be eligible for this program, children must be between the ages of birth and 5 at the time of registration.
“We’re already signing up children,” Tim Richter, president of the Richter Family Foundation, said. “Anytime [parents] want to sign up, they can sign up. May books are already ordered, so if you sign up today, you would not get your first books until June.”
The brand new nursing lab at Genesee Valley BOCES Adult Education program is designed to provide students with a realistic hospital environment where they can practice and enhance their nursing skills. The lab has various types of high, mid, and low-level simulation mannequins. Each sim has different features and functions that can be controlled by an iPad. For example, high-fidelity mannequins can blink, breathe, have bowel sounds, and produce various heart sounds, providing students with a realistic experience of caring for a real patient.
The sims lab allows students to practice a head-to-toe patient assessment as well as emergent situations that can occur during a shift. The updated lab helps them to prepare for their clinical rotation experiences, which in turn prepares them for the workforce. The lab features large patient screen monitors that give the students a look at their patients' vital statistics, and it sets off an alarm showing abnormal readings, which tells students they need to react.
The lab also has a special simulator called a "mom stimulator," which can simulate the process of childbirth and postpartum complications such as hemorrhaging. This simulator can be operated manually or through an automated system, providing students with a comprehensive learning experience. There are a lot of things students don’t get to experience in their clinical rotations but are now able to simulate in this new lab.
In addition to these simulation mannequins, the lab has new equipment, such as IV machines and feeding pumps, to give students a more comprehensive understanding of working with medical equipment. Students have the chance to practice their skills on mannequins which helps prepare them for a job in the medical field. The nursing lab is set up for students to practice different procedures, such as practicing straight catheterization, wound care, and practicing medication administration.
Overall, the nursing lab provides students with a safe and realistic environment to learn and practice their nursing skills. With the help of this lab and experienced instructors, students can gain valuable hands-on experience that will prepare them for the challenges of working as licensed practical nurses.
The Genesee Valley BOCES LPN program is a 1200-clock-hour program, certified by the New York State Education Department, and is designed to prepare graduates for the NCLEX-PN Examination for licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Graduates of the program receive a certificate of completion of licensed practical nursing. The LPN Program has a 90 percent passing rate for the NCLEX exam.
The proposed budget for the Le Roy Central School District for 2023/24 is $30,227,508 in expenditures, and if the district receives the amount of state aid it anticipates, there will be no need to increase the tax levy, according to Superintendent Merritt Holly.
The Board of Education approved the spending plan on Tuesday. The final levy tally and tax rate will become available after state aid is approved and the district knows exactly how much property values have changed, which will be some time before voters are asked to approve the budget in May.
The district expects to spend nearly $10 million on professional and teacher salaries. That's an increase of $324,906 dollars. The increase is mostly driven by negotiated salary increases. Six teachers are being replaced. There will be two new positions in special education, a new half position in elementary literacy, and a half position less in music.
Salaries for K-3 teachers will increase by $61,478, up $27,576 for grades 4-8, and up by $50,266 for grades 7-12.
The superintendent's salary will increase by $6,000, to $179,542.
Salaries for principals and assistants are going down by $33,117 to a total of $387,206.
Fees paid to BOCES are based on prior year charges and the district will pay BOCES $2,612,766, which is $240,930 more than the prior year.
Support staff salaries are up $194,462 to a total of $3,203,908.
The cost of health care is increasing by $53,544 to more than $2.9 million.
Retirement costs are up $53,544 to more than $1.3 million.
Contributions to the capital fund will increase by $563,369 to $663,369. Contributions to the capital fund pay for small building projects that are eligible for NYS building aid.
In the Le Roy Central School District, any student who wants to put forth the effort to graduate Summa Cum Laude, regardless of their academic or career interest, will have that opportunity, said David Russell, principal of the Le Roy Jr./Sr. High School, after the Board of Education approved a change to the Laude System at Tuesday's meeting.
"You can map that out with this system from your eighth-grade year," Russell told The Batavian after the meeting. "You just sit down with your counselor, and you say my goal is to be Summa because again, as I said in the previous meeting, maybe this means the world to you, right? Truthfully, maybe it does, and maybe it means nothing to you. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Either way, it gives you a chance to just compete against yourself."
The district changed from a Top 10 student achievement ranking system to a Laude System in 2018, but the Laude System replaced by the board on Tuesday should make it easier for students' parents to understand if they're on a path to graduation with distinction -- Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, or Summa Cum Laude.
Under the 2018 system, each year, administrators had to decide which courses were worth two points and which were only worth one.
This created some problems, Russell said. It caused rifts between departments -- why was this course worth two credits and another course worth only one? And because each year, there are courses added and dropped, students and parents had to be informed each year of the changes, and whether a student was acquiring enough credits to achieve a Laude recognition had to be hand calculated. The transcript for each student had to be counted against which courses were listed with which values in a particular year.
The big switch under the plan approved Tuesday is that a student need only look at his or her transcript and add up all the classes that provide credit toward graduation. Every class with credit -- whether Advance Placement or Regents -- is weighted the same. There's no worry about classes going away, new classes being added, or course credit values changing.
If that makes it sound easier for students to graduate with distinction, it's not, Russell said, because in order to get enough credits to graduate Summa Cum Laude -- currently 32 -- you will need to fill your schedule with credit-producing classes. To get that many credits, there simply aren't enough school hours in the day to allow a student to sit in study hall, and if you're going to get that many credits, you can't avoid more challenging classes, no matter what your career path or area of interest.
"It naturally pushes you towards challenging classes because in order to fill your schedule, there's only so many intro-level courses you want to take, right?" Russell said. "It's still going to mean something to get to Summa Cum Laude. I'm saying, in order to get to Summa, if you're going to fill your schedule every year, it's going to naturally push you to the higher levels."
That applies equally to students who are trying to get into top science and engineering universities, students on a skills and trade track, as well as students who are potential art, music, and athletics majors -- they all have a chance to achieve Summa Cum Laude, or one of the other Laude tiers without, first, competing for the top GPA in their class, and second, taking classes that are of less interest to them personally just because they are worth more credits.
"Now, there's nothing preventing you (from graduating Laude) because you're not worried about competing for the top 10 in a class that might be loaded with complete scholars," Russell said. "Then, you might say, 'I have no shot at ever getting there. So what's the point?' No, I'm competing against myself. And whatever matters to me, now I can build it into my schedule."
The maximum possible score for a student from 8th grade to 12th would be 36 total credits with a 100 GPA. To achieve Summa Cum Laude, a student would need at least 32 credits and a 95 GPA. Magna Cum Laude would be 30 credits and a 90 GPA. Cum Laude would be 28 total credits and an 85 GPA.
Cum Laude is Latin for "with distinction." Magna Cum Laude means "with great distinction," and Summa Cum Laude means "with highest distinction."
The Class of 2023 will be the last class to graduate under the Top 10 system. The classes of 2024, 2025 and 2026 are under the Laude system but will be eligible to move up to a higher Laude if they qualify for a higher Laude under the proposed revisions. The Class of 2027 would be the first class to graduate under this new Laude system.
The board approved the policy change on a 6-1 vote, with Trustee William MacKenzie voting no.
MacKenzie expressed concern that members of the Class of 2024 will find it more difficult to achieve Summa because of course restrictions during the COVID-19 years.
"My biggest concern is just any student getting slighted," MacKenzie said. "I know of several who possibly could. So it's just how I feel."
Superintendent Merrit Holly said before the vote that what the board was being asked to approve was a policy -- primarily that change from weighted credits to a transcript-based count of credit-worthy classes -- and there was flexibility based on circumstances for each class to adjust credit totals.
Both Holly and Russell indicated there is room to consider changes for the Class of 2024, but there was no commitment by the administration or the board to make any immediate changes.
Russell said he hasn't spoken to the same families MacKenzie may be concerned about but that he believes there is still the opportunity, without making changes to the credit count, for any member who has been focused on achieving Summa to still do so. Those students will need to make sure they fill their course schedule with the classes that help them reach that goal.
Also, members of the Class of 2024 have a chance to reach Summa either under the system approved in 2018, or the one approved Tuesday -- whichever one is most favorable to them in terms of credits or points.
"If there's a student who has a study hall going into their senior year, and they're a credit shy of Summa, then my contention would be, you still have an opportunity to reach Summa, that would be my response," Russell said. "If you have a student who's a credit or credit and a half shy of Summa, and they have more than one study hall their senior year, again, you have an opportunity to get to Summa. It might be more challenging, but again, that's part of what Laude is. It should mean something to get to Summa."
In 2018, Le Roy started phasing out the traditional ranking of top students based on GPA, instituting instead a system that would also take into account challenging coursework.
A senior could no longer skate by on easy electives or study hall to preserve a high GPA. In the new system, students would need to acquire points in Advance Placement classes, for example, to achieve Summa Cum Laude.
High School Principal David Russell, who was hired after the 2018 revisions, introduced modifications to the Laude System to the Board of Education at its last meeting that would further encourage students to aim for high achievement instead of competing with classmates.
"We want to push students to make sure they're pushing themselves," Russell said.
The proposed revisions would be based on the total number of credits a student takes and a cumulative GPA. Each course would be valued the same as the number of credits the course is worth on a transcript. Students taking AP courses and CTE courses that have college credit would continue to receive an additional five points added to their average for that course.
The maximum possible score would be 36 total credits with a 100 GPA. To achieve Summa Cum Laude, a student would need at least 32 credits and a 95 GPA. Magna Cum Laude would be 30 credits and a 90 GPA. Cum Laude would be 28 total credits and an 85 GPA.
Cum Laude is Latin for "with distinction." Magna Cum Laude means "with great distinction," and Summa Cum Laude means "with highest distinction."
The Class of 2023 will be the last class to graduate under the Top 10 system. The classes of 2024, 2025 and 2026 are under the Laude system but will be eligible to move up to a higher Laude if they qualify for a higher Laude under the proposed revisions. If the revisions are approved, the Class of 2027 would be the first class to graduate under this new Laude system.
The goal of the Laude system is to give every student who makes the effort, regardless of life or career goals -- whether in a STEM field, the arts, or athletics -- to graduate with a Laude distinction. Every pathway, Russell explained, gives students who work hard to achieve distinction for the effort.
"One of our fundamental pillars as a public school is to create opportunities for whatever pathway students take on, we're helping prepare them for whatever future they want to go into," Russell said.
The Laude system, Superintendent Merritt Holly noted, is the antidote for "senioritis."
"When we look at the class rank, what we're in right now, that one ends at the end of the first semester," Holly said. "So in January, the Top 10 is really set and done at that point. One of the things you'll hear from the committee and our teachers always is 'senioritis' sets in. As Dave mentioned, what I like about this is it can run all the way up to the end of the school year."
The class rank system does require some hand calculation, Holly said, which is why the class rank is set after the first system. And Russell noted that the class rank is made public, which encourages students to compete against each other.
In the Laude system, only the student, his or her parents, and school counselors will know if a student is headed toward a Laude tier. There is no competition.
"That (competition) can really be unhealthy at times," Russell said.
The rank system also produces the graduation speakers -- the valedictorian and salutatorian. In the new system, students can nominate themselves or others to speak at graduation. School administrators will review those nominations to ensure those truly worthy of speaking will be given the opportunity to be selected as class speakers in a vote of their peers.
The Board of Education will vote at its April 11 meeting on whether or not to accept the proposed revisions.
Photo: Principal David Russell. Photo by Howard Owens.
By policy, every student in the Le Roy Central School District has an opportunity to be served a lunch or breakfast every school day that is healthy and meets established nutritional guidelines.
If they can't pay for it, there's no shame.
These two policies sometimes contradict each other. In circumstances where a child isn't eligible for a free or reduced-price meal but doesn't have any money -- even if they haven't paid for previous meals -- they get served if they step into the meal line. No staff member is allowed to remind a student of past-due bills. That's the district's "no shaming" policy.
However, the district is now in the red on unpaid meal bills this school year to the tune of $2,751.58, Superintendent Merritt Holly informed the Board of Education at this past week's meeting.
Currently, staff members are contacting families with unpaid bills. If a family reports back, "geez, we're really going through a rough time right now," the parents are encouraged to apply for the free or reduced-priced meal program.
"Many times, family situations change," Holly said. "Our job is to help families and bring them in through it."
There are families who aren't paying the bill but don't qualify for the program, so they're expected to pay their past bills.
"Right now, there's no conversation or take anybody in small claims court are doing those type of things," Holly said. "We're trying to generate, 'Hey, are you aware?' Then if we can, we will work out a payment plan for those families. Sometimes, they're not aware that their child has racked up that bill."
If a parent or guardian doesn't want to keep running up the tab, they can inform the school in writing not to serve a meal to their children.
Even for students not getting free or reduced-priced meals, breakfast and lunch in the cafeterias on each campus are inexpensive.
At the elementary school, breakfast is $1.70. At the middle/high school, it is $1.75. Lunch is $2.25 to $2.40.
Holly said the district tries to be as nice as it can be about approaching parents with bills for unpaid meals, but even so, they've had at least one parent indicate she was offended by the debit letter.
The district has been helped at times by community members making donations to pay meal balances for families, Holly said.
The current no-shaming policy was approved by the Board of Education in 2022 and prohibits students from being stigmatized while in line to get a meal, and students can't be required to wear wristbands, hand stamps or other identification to indicate they have an unpaid meal bill.
Parents are supposed to be notified when a student has reached five unpaid meals and informed they can apply for the free or reduced-price meal program.
Any student from a home receiving government food assistance or aid for needy families automatically qualifies for the free or reduced-price program. Other families may qualify but must submit an application and be approved by the district.
The district also has a policy that states, "The Le Roy Central School District wishes to establish a school environment that promotes wellness awareness and is conducive to healthy eating and physical activity for all." The policy is aligned with state and federal guidelines.
Karson Crocker has long hair. Almost 14 inches. Sometimes he gets mistaken for a girl. Sometimes he has trouble fitting it all inside his football helmet. But he’s not ready to cut it -- yet. He has a little more work to do.
In the summer of 2020, the then Byron-Bergen second-grade student watched a video online of a young girl who had lost her hair during cancer treatment. She was upset because of her appearance and how she was being treated by her peers. Crocker was sad for the girl and, after discussing it with his mom, decided to grow out his own hair long enough to make a wig for a child.
Almost three years later, Crocker has a shiny, blonde mane of hair. Now in fourth grade, he shared his plans to donate his hair with his classmates through a brief presentation explaining his project and how he became interested.
“I’m donating because I saw a video that inspired me,” said Crocker. “I’ve been growing my hair for three years.”
“Kids can lose their hair for a lot of different reasons,” said Crocker’s teacher Janna Carney. “Karson’s hair will help to make wigs so that they can have hair. It’s pretty special.”
“I like the words ‘good cause’”, said one of his classmates. After the presentation, the class discussed it and agreed that Crocker’s project is an admirable cause.
In a couple more inches, Crocker’s hair will go to Wigs for Kids, a not-for-profit organization that provides free wigs to children 18 and under who have lost their hair due to a medical condition or treatment.
“A new wig for a child can cost from $3-5,000,” said Jeanne Hurt, a fundraising and development specialist with Wigs for Kids. “Our organization uses human hair and monetary donations to provide wigs for children at no cost.”
Along with his hair, Crocker is raising $1,800 to sponsor the wig. This money will go toward the actual creation of the wig and delivery to a child experiencing medical-related baldness.
“Karson has a heart of gold to spend so much time and energy to help another child feel happier,” said Hurt. “Maybe he can help inspire others to donate their hair as well.”
“Are you going to do it again?” asked Crocker’s classmate.
After this donation, Crocker plans to grow his hair out again, and by 2026 could be ready to help another child.
Greg Kinal taught social studies at Pembroke High School for 52 years. He's also a history buff, and after his retirement in 2022, for another project, he compiled a history of the school district. He provided The Batavian with a timeline of the district's history to share with readers.
The Pembroke Central School District- A Timeline
In the 19th century, rural schoolhouses were strewn across towns and villages. They usually consisted of one-room buildings with a single teacher to teach a number of grade levels.
In 1811, the first school opened in the Town of Pembroke. It was private and was operated by Anna Horton. She ran it in her home in the village of Long’s Corners, now named Corfu.
In 1814, a village meeting was held to determine the future of education in the village. The meeting was held at the home of Josiah Lee, who was part of a team to accomplish this.
By 1819, a log schoolhouse existed on what is today Alleghany Road, the present site of the Pembroke Intermediate School.
The year 1820 saw the first public school open in the village of Long’s Corners.
The 1860s witnessed Long’s Corners now being called Corfu. In 1867, a new schoolhouse was located in Corfu at 39 South Alleghany Road. James McGraw was the teacher as well as the head of the fledgling district.
Twenty years later, the Corfu residents planned a new school. However, there were complications. The school would be built where an existed cemetery was located. So, in 1881, graves were relocated so the new school could be built. The location is the present site of the Intermediate School. The new building was a two-story wood-frame structure with three classrooms on the first floor and a large room upstairs for the high school. The Corfu residents were proud to witness the graduating class in 1884 of just four girls.
The 20th century witnessed more school expansion. In 1906, a two-story addition was added to house another elementary classroom, a cloakroom downstairs, another high school room, and a new principal’s office.
On June 13, 1906, the Corfu school became an accredited high school and was then known as the Corfu Union Free School District.
(Note: A common school district is a school district first created by legislative action back in 1812 to operate elementary schools (kindergarten through eighth grade). Even though they lack the authority to operate a high school, common school districts remain responsible for ensuring a secondary education for their resident children. The term union free school has nothing to do with unions of any kind. A union free school district is a school district generally formed from one or more common school districts to operate a high school program, which common school districts cannot do.)
The Corfu school became a teacher training center between 1913 and 1916, to help supply teachers to rural grade schools.
In 1930, a moveable building was added to the rear of the Corfu school at a cost of $2,500.
In the middle of the Great Depression, the Corfu Union Free School District believed a completely new building was needed to deal with a growing population. The District hired architects Harbach and Kideney to produce plans for the new school. The cost of the new school was $156,363. The new school would be funded in a number of ways. $70,363, or about half the cost would come from a New Deal program called the Public Works Administration, with $86,000 coming from a bond issue paid for by taxpayers.
The District believed the best location for the new building would be directly behind the school built in 1881. Ground was broken in January 1935 and the new school was completed on February 1, 1937. The old school was leveled shortly after the new school opened. The Batavia Daily News reported that the new building was a “two-story fireproof structure of red brick trimmed with Indiana limestone, 158 feet wide across the front and 56 feet on the ends and 100 feet deep in the center where the auditorium is located.” This building could house 350 students. In 1940, a new auditorium was added.
In 1856, a number of “interested and generous citizens” met and pledged $3,413 toward the building of a new school in East Pembroke.
On October 7, 1856, the Old Rural Seminary opened on School Street in East Pembroke on an acre of land donated by Rev. Daniel C. Houghton. The previous March, 15 trustees were elected to oversee the running of the school.
The new school had a principal named I.A. McFarlane, who was paid $600 for his services, and the teaching staff included Helen Page, Elizabeth Rich, and Helen A. Gould. In today’s world, McFarlane’s salary would be a lot higher, and there would be many more teachers.
Changes occurred toward the end of the century. In 1893, the Old Rural Seminary became the East Pembroke Union Free School. They could now operate a high school program.
Like other rural areas, East Pembroke was broken up, education-wise, into Districts that led to some consolidation. In the late 1890s, repairs were made to the East Pembroke school building at a cost of $600, and in June 1897, the East Pembroke High School graduated its first class of one member, Leona Seamans.
The East Pembroke School was a site to behold. The two-story structure had a cupola on top with a bell. Boys entered the building in one entrance and girls at the other.
CORFU-EAST PEMBROKE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
In 1938, the New York State Education Department required that rural school districts be consolidated into centralized districts.
Corfu and East Pembroke each had to prepare their own consolidation plans. However, their plan was negated and the State mandated they join both school buildings into one district.
The plan instructed that the existing Corfu building would house grades 1-12. Then, a new building would be built in East Pembroke to house grades 1-9. Grades 10-12 at the existing East Pembroke School would be bused to Corfu.
On September 7, 1938, the Corfu Union Free School and the East Pembroke Union Free School officially became centralized.
The two schools, plus the 18 rural districts from the towns of Pembroke, Darien, Batavia, and Alexander, would now make up the new Corfu-East Pembroke School District.
The Public Works Administration (PWA) would once again play a role in the Corfu-East Pembroke District. The Batavia Daily News reported on September 30, 1938, that “controversy over school centralization in the Town of Pembroke appeared ended today with the approval of a $340,000 bond issue for construction of a combination junior high and grade school at East Pembroke and an addition to the present Corfu High School.” The $340,000 bond issue represented only 55 percent of the total cost, with the remaining 45 percent to be furnished by the PWA.
This building project for the school also included the construction of a bus garage, the purchase of school equipment, and acquiring land for the school and athletic field on West Avenue in East Pembroke. Also included in this monetary package were funds for the Corfu school to purchase land for an athletic field.
The East Pembroke School construction began on December 27, 1938, with numerous speakers, including Master of Ceremonies, and Principal Laurence B. Lane.
The East Pembroke School was completed for the 1940 school year. In 1958, the schools were realigned, and East Pembroke became a K-6 building, while Corfu maintained its K-12 status. (Note: Historian Lois Brockway said kindergarten did not come to Pembroke until 1949).
In the early 1960s, school overcrowding led to the Corfu and East Pembroke Grange halls being used for 6th-grade classes. Also, the growing student enrollment meant that regular school hours had to be adjusted. The Corfu High School went on split sessions during the 1960s, with grades 9-12 attending classes from 7:55 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. and grades 6-8 attending classes from 12:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
With the new buildings, students had physical education classes in the gymnasium instead of recess and playing games outdoors. Buses were now used to pick up and drop off students at their houses.
PEMBROKE CENTRAL SCHOOL
The student population increased in the Pembroke district, and officials realized a new high school needed to be built. The new school would be built at the corner of Routes 5 and 77. Ground was broken in August 1962, and the new junior/senior high school opened its doors in January 1964. The district principal (now called superintendent) was Laurence B. Lane.
The Pembroke Central School became a 7-12 building and could hold 800 students. The Corfu and East Pembroke buildings each became K-6 buildings.
The late 1960s brought about more improvements in the district’s buildings. An addition was added to the East Pembroke School, which opened in 1967, and a large lecture hall (the Round Room), and 17 instructional classrooms (the 500 wing) were added to the high school, along with a swimming pool, library research center, guidance offices, and a cafeteria.
The elementary schools saw a major educational change in 1971. The new superintendent, Dr. Richard Nealon, along with the Board of Education, decided that elementary students’ education would be better served by having the East Pembroke School be a K-2 building and the Corfu building serve as a 3-6 building, becoming the Pembroke Intermediate School.
This move was not popular. Some teachers in both schools chose to retire rather than switch buildings.
With the 1970s came more improvements. In 1972, the Wilson Choate Outdoor Education Area was dedicated along with the Kip Mantor football field.
On June 10, 1987, Pembroke Central School suffered a horrible tragedy. Three Pembroke students and their Driver Education teacher were killed in a DWI accident. The following year, Pembroke’s Redesign Team, part of the Art Department, created a memorial sign to be placed in front of the school. The Pembroke Community Rainbow Memorial Committee, including students, school and community members, constructed this memorial. Dedicated in 1988, it serves as a reminder of the tragedy, as well as a marquee for school events. In 2022, the memorial’s marquee was upgraded to an LED digital sign, bringing a beautiful addition to the front of the school.
The last major renovation at Pembroke Central School came in 2008. Taxpayers passed a $25 million bond issue to upgrade the three buildings. It took two years to complete. In those two years, infrastructure upgrades were done at the Primary and Intermediate schools, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical and lighting and plumbing. The high school received most of the updates. Tiles were replaced, and new ceilings, lighting, and floors were installed as well. New boilers were also on the list for refurbishing, along with upgrades to the technology and home economics room. The “Round Room” was turned into an art and music center, the auditorium was air-conditioned, new offices were built, and a new library complex was added.
The Pembroke community has a lot to be proud of with its school community. They have come a long way from Anna Horton’s 1811 school in her home, to our modern educational facilities of today. One wonders what the future holds for this dynamic community that has always risen to the challenge of caring for our most precious commodity: our children.
Submitted photos: Top photo, students at Pembroke High School in a typing class in the 1970s.
More than 600 students from 28 school districts from Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming (GLOW) counties experienced a hands-on healthcare career exploration event Friday. Supported by business and educational groups and sponsors led by Platinum Sponsor ESL Federal Credit Union, the inaugural GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare event took place at Genesee Community College.
GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare was manifested from the annual GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing event that educates students through simulations and other hands-on experiences in the advanced manufacturing, agriculture, and skilled trades sectors on career opportunities available in students’ own backyards.
“This event was such a special opportunity for our organization, with roughly 200 beds and six outpatient clinics within our health system, we are actively searching and hiring for the next generation of workforce candidates,” said David Kobis, Wyoming County Community Health System CEO. “Representatives from WCCHS participated in multiple hands-on workshops and a career fair where students were able to ask our team members about their roles and what it is like to work for our organization.”
The inaugural GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare event welcomed dozens of healthcare organizations from various sectors of the industry, including hospitals and health systems and career opportunities in nursing, mental health, social services and first responders as well as educational pathways into healthcare through BOCES, local colleges, and universities.
“Based on our success of engaging the future workforce with employers across the GLOW region in the manufacturing, agriculture and skilled trades sectors, we were optimistic that this same type of format would benefit healthcare providers and more importantly students who have an interest in a career in healthcare,” said Angela Grouse, Education to Employment Director at the Livingston County Area Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare. “With the current staffing challenges in the healthcare system, especially in rural areas, vendors recognized the benefit of participating and engaged enthusiastically.”
Students received hands-on instruction and experience in first aid/CPR, nursing, caretaking, and other healthcare-related activities. The students were also provided information about secondary career paths such as physical therapy, complementary and alternative medicine, Doctor of Medicine, and more.
“Our planning team is comprised of dedicated individuals who want to provide our youth with opportunities of exploring future career paths that fit their talents and aspirations,” said Karyn Winters, director of the Genesee County Business Education Alliance Director and Co-Chair of GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare. “Students will now be able to go back to their clubs, counselors, and classrooms and have an idea of what career path they could see themselves in and will be able to build upon the connections they have made as a result of this engagement with healthcare organizations.”
Various local and state-level officials and stakeholders participated in the event at Genesee Community College to learn more about initiatives the GLOW region is taking to prepare its youth for future career and employment opportunities. This event showcased why there is a need for investment in rural healthcare entities and the number of students interested in these careers.