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Batavia City School District

Batavia students and staff take the 'polar plunge' for a good cause

By Joanne Beck
Over 100 people participated in this years 2024 Polar Plunge at john Kennedy Intermediate School.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
More than 100 people get ready for a cold spray as part of this week's 2024 Polar Plunge Friday at John Kennedy Intermediate School in Batavia.
Photo by Steve Ognibene

City of Batavia firefighters are on hand Friday for the dozens of soaking wet people standing outside in the frigid weather at John Kennedy Intermediate School, but it wasn’t due to any unfortunate emergency, school counselor and event Co-Chairman Eric Knapp says.

Quite the contrary, those brave souls were part of what’s become a traditional gathering of Batavia City School, fire department, business and community representatives for a yearly fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics of Western New York.

This event has been so successful, the Special Olympics organization recognized organizers this year with a plaque.

“We are the number one leading school district and we received what was called the Cool School Award for raising the most money. So they're going to present us with a plaque for this year. I'm not sure if we're going to be number one for this year. But last year, we were number one. I think we're going to be a strong number two, which is still pretty good,” Knapp said during the event surrounded by some 150 participants, organizers and supporters. “I’m a school counselor for John Kennedy School, and it's just to get the whole idea of helping people in your community. And it’s also bringing attention to the Special Olympics and the athletes and all the gifts that they have. So bringing awareness to diverse people … it's just the coolest thing to help other people, especially the Special Olympics population.”

The coolest thing? He can say that again: “it’s literally going to be the coolest thing, when it’s like 10-degrees,” he said. “We are all together, some will get wet, some will not get wet, it’s pretty cold.”

Organizations included the fire department and its union, the school’s Varsity football team, Batavia Middle School Honor Society, JK’s fourth grade mentors, New York State Troopers, Batavia Police Department, the district’s students and staff and Jersey Mike’s.

Eric’s wife Krista, a second grade teacher, first began doing a polar plunge at Lake Ontario for Special Olympics before the pandemic hit, and then she and her husband brought the idea of a polar spray to Batavia to continue with the fundraising, he said.

Successful? You bet. They raised $10,000 last year and surpassed that with a total of $10,060 this year. Polar Plunge is the organization’s largest fundraiser for New York State, Senior Director for Development Kelley Ligozio said. When the pandemic and shutdowns happened, the Knapp couple and fellow organizers “wanted to build some spirit amongst our administrators and our students because COVID was really hard on everybody,” she said. 

 “And it's resulted in now 150 people here today to raise money to support people with intellectual differences, from our young athletes to our unified program in the schools, to our traditional competition,” Ligozio said. “The money that we're raising today, and what we raise across the state, goes back into the communities that we serve, and we serve over 3,500 athletes across the greater Rochester area. It is amazing."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Principal Paul Kesler and daughter prepare for the plunge.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
John Kennedy Principal Paul Kesler and daughter prepare for the plunge.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Students from John Kennedy School preparing for the plunge.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Students from John Kennedy School prepare for the 'polar plunge.'
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Participants going though the water spray.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Participants bravely walk through the water spray.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Eric Knapp JK school counselor  Photo by Steve Ognibene
John Kennedy School Counselor and Event Co-Chairman Eric Knapp with a fellow polar-plunger.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
City of Batavia Fire Dept preparing for the water spray.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
City of Batavia Fire Department staff eagerly wait for the signal to begin spraying.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Batavia Football team post event.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Batavia City School's Varsity Football team commemorates the event.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Eric and Krista Knapp, BCSD school educators who chair the annual event.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Eric and Krista Knapp, BCSD school educators and co-chairs of the annual event.
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Restorative practices, authentic text -- high school's buzz words shift with the needs and the times

By Joanne Beck
jennifer-wesp-liestman
Batavia High School Principal Jennifer Wesp

Empowering students, maximum potential, socially responsible citizens.

Those are some of the words “that popped out to me when I first became a principal when I started to dig into learning a little bit about Batavia,” High School Principal Jennifer Wesp said during Tuesday’s Batavia City Schools Board of Education meeting. “And then things like safe and nurturing environment, high moral character, and successfully meeting life’s challenges. So coming into this, I really was focused on how can we make sure that our culture is helping our students to rise to be the best students that they can be? And how can they take hose steps to really show the independence that they have within themselves?

“So I just wanted to say that I really grounded myself in the mission and vision as I started to think about the work that I was going to do,” she said. “So with that, as you know, our strategic plan as a district is really amazing. And this is really the roadmap that we use in the high school to plan all of the things that we’re doing, some of the policies and procedures that we’ve updated, the messaging we’re giving our students.”

Her journey, as she put it, began in the summer with a three days of four-hour meeting of the minds from across district buildings, to share concerns — “there had been some unrest at the end of the year, lots of things where people were talking about different things that were going on” —and some of the needs that staff wanted to discuss with the district at large, she said.

“And it really gave me my first taste of what is Batavia about, what are we looking at, what are we looking to build upon, what are the great things?” she said. “So this kind of helped, just being in the meeting and meeting people across the district to start to formulate some of the things and actions that we are going to take as we work on our goals together.”

Two specific areas emerged from those meetings for more exploration, she said, which was done with interviews and surveys to obtain direct feedback from the “stakeholders” involved. The two areas led to questions: 

  • In what ways might we be able to handle and best manage student behaviors in class?
  • How might we help students emotionally regulate in order to avoid and manage conflicts?

Assistant Principals Omar Hussain and Jessica Korzelius took a part of the presentation and piece of the response to create three goals to help students to progress personally and academically.

The goals involve purposeful reading, a safe and orderly environment, and well managed emotions.

More specifically, the goals mandate that students will:

  • Learn strategies to develop/manage/execute emotional regulation levels to increase positive student behaviors in the classroom, school and community; 
  • Engage in purposeful reading (authentic text), writing and collaborative discussion protocols for 100 minutes a day; and 
  • Provide a school environment that is safe and orderly for all.

Just what is authentic text? The New York State Education Department defines it (and other forms of media) as being produced from authentic resources and used as "a tool to promote students’ language and culture learning."

"Through authentic resources, students see how words and structures are used in a given cultural context for real-world communicative purposes. When authentic resources are well-chosen and implemented, they can motivate and support students’ target language use and cultural understanding," the SED website states. 

Hussain touched on the idea of independence in a way that he thought was “pretty sweet,” and seemingly simple.  The school’s co-mayors suggested a program of allowing seniors the option to hang out for a “sunrise/sunset” privilege, captured with fun props in photos at Van Detta Stadium, and done with the assistance of a student parent group. It was an alternative senior study hall that “the underclassmen, they’ll love it too,” he said, and includes a late arrival for seniors and study halls housed in the library, aka the “Senior Lounge.” 

Korzelius talked more about strategies to help students “understand themselves better,” and that use restorative practices. Such strategies can involve family members and counselors, and the work  is focused on repairing the damage done to oneself and relationships with others.

“There’s the alternative to suspension room,” she said as an example of the restorative piece. “For an overall wellness experience for students.”

There’s a strong emphasis on the positive, all three said, and that includes mental health as part of a social and emotional learning component.

“It’s just really empowering our students to see the leaders in themselves … it’s celebrating students,” Korzelius said.  

BCSD voters approve $45M capital project Thursday, officials pleased

By Joanne Beck

After two public hearings with only a few Batavia City School District residents in attendance, the majority made their opinions known Thursday by a vote of 315 to 97 in favor of the $45 million capital project, district officials said.

The vote means that the capital project will proceed in 2024 to install two synthetic turf fields for the high school, a baseball and softball field each, and upgrades for every school building within the city school district.

District officials applauded the support, including school board Vice President John Reigle, who said that he was “very pleased and proud” about the results of the district’s Reimagined capital project vote.

“Our leadership team did a great job promoting the project and explaining the many benefits of the project to our community,” Reigle said to The Batavian Thursday night. “This is a great step towards ensuring our district keeps the high standards that our district students and community expect and deserve. I’d like to thank the community for their support in voting to approve this capital project for our district.”

Likewise, board member Alice Ann Benedict was also pleased with the results and thanked the community for its demonstration of support for the project.

“I am thrilled with the overwhelming support of the BCSD Capital Project. The project was well-advertised and explained to the community over the last number of weeks. We’ve had a lot of feedback, mostly positive, from the community,” Benedict said to The Batavian. “I am always pleased when the voting community supports the recommendations of the Superintendent and administrators. Keeping our buildings safe and up-to-date is the most important part of this project because our students and staff are the most important users of these buildings. There are numerous safety improvements included for all of the schools.

“With most of the questions coming because of the artificial turf cost on two fields, our athletes can be out on the fields a lot earlier because this project will improve the drainage issues our district fields suffer with,” she said. “We have also heard  positive feedback about the moving of the grades, especially fifth grade back to John Kennedy.”

The BCSD Reimagined Project's next phase will include engaging in the contractor bid process over the next 12 months, and the district expects the first phase of construction to begin in the spring of 2025. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the 2027 calendar year. BCSD will provide additional updates and project details to the Batavia community as they become available, officials said in a press release issued Thursday night.

“Thank you to the Batavia community for your steadfast support in passing our BCSD Reimagined Capital Improvement Project,” Superintendent Jason Smith said in the release. “With this initiative, we will address essential infrastructure needs across all of our buildings. These funds will also help us convert Robert Morris into a modern early childhood education center and enhance our athletic fields for year-round use. Your vote reflects a deep commitment to our students and schools' ongoing improvement and future success.”

Board President John Marucci added, “We are profoundly grateful to the Batavia community for their support, to our Batavia City School District leadership for their visionary guidance in spearheading this important project, and to our collaborative construction partners and Buildings and Grounds Committee, who played an integral role in its conception.” 

“It's a remarkable achievement to bring this project to fruition with a zero percent tax increase, reflecting our shared commitment to fiscal responsibility and educational excellence,” Marucci said. “This collective support and collaboration are invaluable in shaping a brighter future for the Batavia City School District students.”

Musicians of Note applications being accepted, deadline March 28

By Joanne Beck

If you are or know of a Batavia City School alum or retired music educator with musical accomplishments, applications are now being accepted for the Musicians of Note awards.

Recipients need to have been an active performer or music educator, be at least 10 years out of high school, and have had a successful musical career in either performance, composition, education, theater or audio recording.

Nominations may be done posthumously to honor deceased musicians and educators from BCSD as well.

Complete and submit the application by March 28, 2024. 

BCSD capital project hearing draws a party of one with many questions

By Joanne Beck
Architect Brian Tott with Herb Schroeder
Architect Brian Trott explains the artificial turf as Batavia resident Herb Schroeder listens during the city school district's capital project hearing Thursday at Batavia High School. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Of the nine people at Thursday’s Batavia City Schools capital project public hearing, only one was a district resident who came to hear the presentation.

The remaining people in the auditorium were district staff, board members and an architect from the project design team. Although Herb Schroeder was the lone attendee, he came armed with a list of questions about the $45 million district-wide project.

Is this being paid for with a grant?
No. $6.9 million is coming from capital reserves, and the remainder of $38 million from a loan, to be paid back with reimbursement from the state.

What if the state reneges? It’s a lot for the taxpayers to handle if the state reneges. 
None of the presenters had ever heard of the state backing out of its commitment to reimburse a district for a capital project. These projects must be approved by the state Education Department after voter approval.

Have you looked into the price of traditional turf (in addition to the artificial turf that’s part of the capital project)?
No. Superintendent Jason Smith wasn’t saying that he wouldn’t look into it, but from everything that coaches and the Clark Patterson Lee team have advised, artificial is the way to go to help address the drainage issues with the fields at Batavia High School, Smith said.

“Drainage issues are going to be a problem no matter what you do … it’s a lot of money, that’s my biggest pet peeve,” Schroeder said. 

Even professional associations are considering going back to natural turf after some athletes have gotten injured on the artificial material, he said.

The plan calls for two synthetic turf fields for the high school, a baseball and softball field each, for about $7 million of the total cost. A proposed turf field at Van Detta Stadium upset a fair number of people — prospective tax-paying voters — so The Batavian had previously asked Smith why turf for the high school. 

The fields behind the State Street site have been prone to excess water and drainage issues for years, he said, since the school was built on a swamp. “We have received complaints from families,” he said and had to move several games to Genesee Community College as a result. 

Synthetic turf raises the playing field, alleviates pooling water, and provides “a better quality playing field for the kids,” he said. Installing this type of material would permanently fix the swamping issue, he said. 

“Most of us don’t see it as a luxury anymore,” he said. 

Robert Morris was closed in 2011 due to declining enrollment, so what are your projections for the next five years?
Enrollment is flat, with a slight increase at Robert Morris with the universal pre kindergarten, pre-school and pre-school special education programs enrolling kids ages 3 to 5. 

After using the one reserve for this project, are there any reserves left?
Yes and no, Smith said.

“Man, that’s a politician,” Schroeder said with a small chuckle.

Business Administrator Andrew Lang explained that there are some reserves already in place, including a teacher’s and employee’s retirement system reserve, and a reserve that the district created this past budget season to begin building up an account for future needs. This project, however, will drain this one particular reserve of $6,928,000.

A shift from getting a grant to borrowing the money “scares me,” Schroeder said, but he pledged his support.

“I’m going to vote for your project,” he said. 

This was the second presentation in the last two weeks, with the first one drawing only about three or four people. Board President John Marucci isn’t concerned about the low attendance. In fact, he believes it’s a testament to the district’s competence in disseminating the information and answering questions sufficiently before next week's vote. 

“I guess I was a little worried walking in and seeing that there's only one person here. But the more I thought about it, the more I think the community is comfortable with the job that we did. They're happy with what we've done. And I think the vote next week will show that it'll pass with flying colors,” Marucci said. “If this would have been a full auditorium, I would have been real worried. Just because that would tell me that, I think, there might be some people that have some real questions on the job we've done.  I think just seeing the one gentleman here tonight asking some great questions, that just showed that I think the community has paid attention to the flyers that we put out, the videos we put out, and they're happy with what we've done.”

As for what seemed to be one of Schroeder’s biggest sticking points, the artificial turf, not only has that not been a major complaint, but many people have wanted to see more of it installed throughout the district, Smith said.

“When I talk to the teams and the coaches, they’re excited about it. Also, I should have mentioned it will give us more practice area for our soccer team to practice on because our soccer team does play on turf at Van Detta, so they like to practice on turf,” he said. “It's not a full soccer field, but they can still get that turf experience of playing on turf, which they do at Van Detta and other schools, so there's more benefit besides just softball and baseball.”

Board Vice President John Reigle agreed, adding that the artificial field raises up the playing surface and helps to get the players out of a flooded field.

“It’s a great asset for the district,” Reigle said. 

The project will also involve some reconfiguration of grade levels. Kindergarten will move from Jackson Primary to Robert Morris; second grade will move from John Kennedy Intermediate to Jackson and fifth grade will move to John Kennedy from the middle school.

The district performs a building conditions survey every five to seven years, and the architect Clark Patterson Lee recommended a detailed scope of work that was prioritized from one to three, Smith had said in a prior interview, with mostly ones and twos being chosen for the project. Much of the work is being done to shore up 20-year-old infrastructure, such as the high school’s boiler system, roof, and the gym at Robert Morris.

Nothing is on the list to be expanded, such as extra classrooms or other such student space, which makes sense according to enrollment projections. By the district's calculations, total enrollment topped out at 2,383 in 2013 and fluctuated until it peaked for the last time in 2020 at 2,190, declining to 1,978 in 2023. Estimated total enrollment will be 1,933 in 2024, 1,902 in 2025, 1,880 in 2026 and 1,858 by 2027.

All of the schools have many of the same upgrades, including PA/clock and fire alarm replacements, phone system replacement, blue light notification system, information technology infrastructure improvements and pavement replacement for Jackson, John Kennedy, and the middle and high schools.

Jackson is also in line for building-mounted lighting and the replacement of a failing retaining wall on the east side between the school and its neighbors. John Kennedy would also get a new roof, an upgraded gym divider curtain and regraded softball field and other amenities.

Batavia Middle School “is getting the most renovations to the interior space,” Smith had said, “where it’s needed.”

“The whole school really needs a lot of work; it’s a historic, beautiful building, and we're trying to home in on that to give it the attention it needs,” he said. “I think that foundation repairs is an example of that.”

The breakdown of the $45 million is:

  • BHS - $16,965,918
  • BMS - $9,740,584
  • John Kennedy - $6,852,018
  • Jackson - $1,779,991
  • Robert Morris - $9,537,600
  • Richmond Memorial Library - $184,375

The project is to have no additional tax increase for district residents, officials said. 

Voting will take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 14 at designated sites, depending on where you live. 

For residents living north of Route 5 (Main Street), vote at Robert Morris, 80 Union St., in the Multi-Purpose Room.
For residents living south of Route 5, vote at Batavia High School, 260 State St., in the library.

More information about the project:

Click here to view our BCSD Reimagined Project Website 

Click here to view our BCSD Reimagined Project Factsheet

Click here to view our BCSD Reimagined Project Newsletter

Click here to view our BCSD Reimagined Project Video

Jason Smith presenting
Superintendent Jason Smith reviewing the work to be done at BHS and the turf fields.
Photo by Joanne Beck
Andrew Lang presenting
Newly hired Business Administrator Andrew Lang presents the financial end of the project during Thursday's public hearing. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Public hearing to provide information, answer questions about $45M BCSD capital project before vote

By Joanne Beck

The first of two public hearings about Batavia City School District’s proposed $45 million capital project will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the middle school auditorium, 96 Ross St., Batavia.

The proposed project is designed to modernize the district’s instructional spaces, optimize the building grade-level configurations, and address high-priority facility needs throughout the district, school officials say.

A big selling point is that there will be “no additional tax increase” for district property taxpayers as a result of the project, officials say in the presentation.

The vote for the BCSD Reimagined capital improvement project will be on Dec. 14 for residents of the city school district. These public hearings are your opportunity to hear about the project and ask questions. 

A second public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at Batavia High School in the auditorium, 260 State St., Batavia. 

Voting will take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 14 at designated sites, depending on where you live. 

For residents living north of Route 5 (Main Street), vote at Robert Morris, 80 Union St., in the Multi-Purpose Room.

For residents living south of Route 5, vote at Batavia High School, 260 State St., in the library.

More information about the project is available below:

Click here to view our BCSD Reimagined Project Website 

Click here to view our BCSD Reimagined Project Factsheet

Click here to view our BCSD Reimagined Project Newsletter

Click here to view our BCSD Reimagined Project Video

Getting technical: new IT director presents plan for Comptroller findings

By Joanne Beck

Brian Sutton had his work cut out for him. 

It was 14 months ago when Batavia City Schools shed light on a Comptroller’s report that found the district paid some $17,000 in annual fees for hundreds of lost technology equipment from 2021-22. 

The report stated that the district did not adopt a comprehensive policy for establishing and maintaining IT inventory or for maintaining an accurate IT inventory, a costly faux pas that Superintendent Jason Smith had promised to rectify with new policies, and had outlined steps the district had taken to meet Comptroller findings:

  • We have engaged a third-party company specializing in IT services to conduct an assessment of our entire IT department, including our inventory and staff. 
  • Our internal team has taken the results from the audit and gone above and beyond to reduce our BOCES service charges by purging and returning unused inventory. 
  • We are working closely with the Board of Education to adopt a comprehensive written policy for establishing and maintaining controls to track and inventory our IT equipment. 

In February 2023, Smith made a recommendation to bring back a full-time IT director to the district. He and Trisha Finnegan, executive director of staff development and operations, wrote the job description for the tech director, and a candidate search was conducted.

Brian Sutton was chosen for the job. He began the position on July 1 of this year, and Monday was his first official presentation after submerging himself in the policies and protocols, storage areas, and technology infrastructure, and getting to know the district users themselves.

Brian Sutton

Right off the bat, Sutton was faced with key findings from the audit that he needed to address while aligning with the district’s Strategic Plan. 

Goal 1 was to have a safe and orderly school environment, Goal 2 was for a collaborative culture, Goal 3 was for a clear and accessible curriculum, and Goal 4 was for effective teaching in every classroom. 

His first task was to review the existing structure and services offered through BOCES, including database management, the physical inventory process, technology leadership and how assets are identified and tagged. 

Then he had to reestablish a formal leadership in the technology department and implement a formal Technology Committee, with a data protection privacy officer and reviews of data privacy law to ensure that all requirements are being met, he said.

"So getting them to touch base in person, once a week, with the rest of the department has been very, very wonderful,” he said. “And honestly, we've addressed issues much quicker because of that interaction.”

Sutton has been working with Edutech — Genesee Valley/Wayne Finger Lakes Educational Technology Service — a collaboration that has meant a shared staff of network engineer I, IT support technician II, network technician, and support technician I. 

That has reaped a minimal savings of $85,000 in salaries for the district, Sutton said. 

He has been working with Edutech to ensure that tags are provided on all “products” that come from them, which is a restructuring of Batavia’s inventory system and prices to ensure accountability for all hardware, he said, including district-owned devices, per board policy.

He’s implementing a software program to track software inventory product purchases and related expiration dates. He has been rearranging and organizing the physical workspace of the technology department and at the storage room at Robert Morris. 

All of these tasks have been items to enforce the existing board policies on inventory control based on the Comptroller’s audit. Not only were hundreds of devices discovered missing from inventory, but the district had been paying their annual fees.

Stepping into his own role to provide technology leadership, Sutton is using the functional review audit as a roadmap to prioritize and address issues that were uncovered, he said.

As a result, he is having weekly technology department meetings with tech aides at the middle and high schools, providing guidance and support to the creation of the digital fluency class at the middle school, and re-establishing the district technology committee with a focus on staff development and learning, he said.

Sutton has been working with Finnigan and has worked on data privacy as part of Education Law 2D Compliance, scheduling ongoing meetings with representatives of Edutech, updating staff about the Acceptable Use Policy, and creating an Incident Response Plan and Disaster Recovery Playbook.

Part of data privacy also includes keeping in line with state compliance so that student information remains confidential, he said, through an expanded Brightly Work Order system for staff to submit requests to check if sites or applications they want to use are compliant. 

As for the infrastructure, he looked at the layout of buildings and related wireless signal strengths to see potential dead zones and address those so that students and staff won’t experience dropped connections during class and work time, he said. 

“We had conducted a wireless survey to show a map of the connectivity in the buildings, it was really neat, actually, it brings a layout of the building, and then it's different colors based on the signal strength,” he said. “So we had really great connectivity throughout the district. We did identify a couple of classrooms that were dead zones, and we're addressing those by adding wireless access points into those rooms so that there isn't that disruption to students and staff when they're on their devices. 

“Last week, we also upgraded our wireless output from one gig to two with Spectrum. So that will only increase the speed at which we are operating here,” he said. “And it's also very important when it comes to computer-based testing time, as we're going to have many many students on the device all at the same time.” 

He adjusted settings in the Google Admin console to improve the rate of connectivity of devices.

He also worked with Edutech and approached the firewall issue, which used to be a convoluted multi-layer system that has been revised to speed up devices.

He homed in on Chromebooks at each grade level, so that “students only have access to applications that are applicable to their grade level.”

“I really focused on what’s needed for the curriculum,” he said.

Cybersecurity training, a professional hub of resources for staff, and an updated district website that meets compliance with the state Education Department are additional tasks that have been completed with assistance from staff, he said.

“This is super exciting, I know, but incredibly necessary. So this is what the state is looking for. Basically, when they go on our website, they're going to click on that data privacy tab, and they're gonna start trying to find where we're missing things and they're not gonna find anything, but just the idea,” Sutton said. “And like I said, coming next is more focused on Goal three and Goal four, they're accessible curriculum and effective teaching in every classroom.”

BCSD celebrates school board recognition week Oct. 16-20

By Press Release
2023-24-bcsd-board-of-education.jpg
Submitted photo of Batavia City School District Board of Education.

Press Release:

The New York State School Boards Association recognizes Oct. 16-20 as School Board Recognition Week. This is a time to promote awareness and understanding of the important work performed by local school boards. 

Public schools form the bedrock of our communities and our country. Democracy thrives with educated citizens capable of critical thinking and civil discourse. And it is our local school boards who are ultimately responsible for student success.

“Our Batavia City School District Board of Education consists of seven dedicated volunteers who literally put the ‘public’ in ‘public education’ and play an important role in our community,” said Superintendent Jason Smith. 

“They are charged with reviewing and approving numerous policies, monitoring our Strategic Plan and academic goals, overseeing the superintendent (the only employee of the Board of Education), and serving as financial stewards for our community—all on a volunteer basis, with their only motivation to serve our students, staff, families, and our Batavia community.” 

Please join us in thanking and appreciating our Board of Education members here in Batavia: 

  • John Marucci, President

  • John Reigle, Vice President 

  • Korinne Anderson 

  • Alice Ann Benedict 

  • Barbara Bowman 

  • Jennifer Lendvay 

  • Chezeray Rolle 

For full access to our Board of Education information, agendas, and policies, click here: BCSD Board of Education, and if you want to learn more about our members, please visit this page: BCSD Board of Education Members.

Batavia school board sets $45M capital project vote for upgrades, new turf fields

By Joanne Beck

City school board members have set the date for district residents to vote on a capital project that officials say is about bolstering more so than expanding. Voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the $45 million plan on Dec. 14.

During a series of votes Monday related to the capital project, from authorizing the district to borrow the necessary amount for the work to set a calendar for voter registration, the school board moved the capital project forward with architect Clark Patterson Lee in the audience. 

Board members didn’t comment on the project, however, Superintendent Jason Smith had previously said that the scope of work focused on shoring up existing facilities and properties, some of which are 20 years old, including the high school’s boiler system and roof, and the gym at Robert Morris. 

All of the schools have many of the same upgrades, including PA/clock and fire alarm replacements, phone system replacement, blue light notification system, information technology infrastructure improvements, and pavement replacement for Jackson, John Kennedy, and the middle and high schools.

Jackson is also in line for building-mounted lighting and the replacement of a failing retaining wall on the east side between the school and its neighbors. John Kennedy would also get a new roof, an upgraded gym divider curtain, and regraded softball field, and other amenities.

Batavia Middle School is in store for a gender-neutral restroom, staff restroom, foundation repairs around the entire building, and a glass safety railing for the auditorium balcony are some of those repairs and upgrades. 

A building conditions survey prompted the glass railing because people sitting on the balcony could also be a potential safety concern, Smith and former Business Administrator Scott Rozanski had previously said. 

The middle school softball field is to receive some improvements and a backstop replacement while Batavia High School is on tap for a new roof, plus two synthetic turf fields — a baseball and softball field each, for about $7 million of the total cost. 

The breakdown of funding is as follows, with the cost to taxpayers to be no additional tax dollars, officials said. 

Project Referendum Amount: $45,060,486
State Building Aid Reimbursement: $38,132,486
Capital Reserve Contribution: $6,928,000
Annual increase to taxpayers: $0
 

Batavia City Schools board approves new athletic director

By Press Release
Ryan Winchip
Ryan Winchip
Photo courtesy of Batavia City School District

Press Release:

On Monday, September 18, upon recommendation from Superintendent Jason Smith, the Batavia City School District Board of Education approved the appointment of Ryan Winchip as Director of Health, Physical Education & Athletics, effective October 19, 2023.

 Winchip most recently served as the Warsaw Central School Middle and High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director. He also served as the Coordinator of Physical Education, Health, Athletics, and Dean of Students at the Pembroke Central School District. He began his career as a teacher, obtaining K-12 physical education and health teaching experience in New York and North Carolina. 

He has extensive coaching experience throughout his career, having led teams from the modified to varsity levels since 2013. In 2015, he was awarded two “Coach of the Year” accolades in North Carolina. 

Winchip has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education and Coaching from St. Bonaventure University. His advanced degrees include a Masters in Educational Leadership from the American College of Education and a Certificate of Administration & Study from Broome Community College.

"We're thrilled to welcome Ryan as our new Director of Health, Physical Education & Athletics. He brings an exceptional blend of expertise and enthusiasm that will invigorate our programs. With a strong commitment to both athletic excellence and holistic well-being, we're certain Ryan will help elevate the experience of our students in significant ways. Thank you to our staff, parents, and students who participated in the interview process. Welcome to the Blue Devils, Ryan!” Said Superintendent of Schools Jason Smith.   

“I am extremely excited to be joining the Batavia Blue Devils family as the new Director of Health, Physical Education & Athletics,” said Ryan Winchip. “I have always admired Batavia's program, and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to join in the district’s tradition of excellence. I hope to build upon all the great things that Mr. Mike Bromley has put in place over his illustrious career. Moving forward, I can't wait to immerse myself into the role and get to know all the amazing members of the BCSD community.”

Batavia Middle School Physical Education teacher Brennan Briggs will continue to serve as the BCSD Athletics Program Assistant.

BCSD receives Utica National school safety excellence award

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Batavia City School District is proud to announce it is one of at least 165 school districts and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in New York State to receive the Utica National Insurance Group's "School Safety Excellence Award" for 2023 at the Titanium with Honors level. 

The honor is presented annually and recognizes school districts' safety efforts as they work to help keep students, staff, and visitors safe. Batavia City School District officials received a certificate to commemorate the district's safety efforts and a $500 award for use in furthering those efforts from Utica National representatives. 

Utica National's School Safety Excellence Award Program has three levels—titanium, platinum, and gold—in which schools can earn a meritorious distinction by meeting specific criteria to enhance overall safety. 

Through the program, schools with their own transportation, schools with contract transportation, and BOCES are evaluated. Categories covered include bullying prevention programs, playground safety, and other areas, and are measured using specific, quantifiable surveys. 

“We’re proud and encouraged to receive this award from Utica National,” said Batavia City School District Superintendent Jason Smith. “The health, safety, and security of our students, faculty, staff, and community is our top priority. We’re consistently evaluating our programs, and this award will certainly go towards our continued efforts.” 

"Safety and health concerns continue to be a priority in our school districts," explained Brian Saville, Senior Vice President of Utica National's Educational Institutions Unit. "Districts that go 'above and beyond' to provide a safe, healthy, and focused culture for learning are to be applauded, and we're pleased to count Batavia City School District among them."

For more than 45 years, Utica National Insurance Group has kept kids and school staff safe and currently insures more than 300 school districts in upstate New York alone. 

Easter Bunny hops over to Robert Morris for early visit Friday

By Joanne Beck

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The Easter Bunny made an early visit Friday to children at Robert Morris School in Batavia as part of his busy holiday rounds throughout the area. He posed, chatted with, and got hugs from the kids, and saw the creative crafts that the youngsters made, during their afternoon time together. 

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Photos submitted by Batavia City School District.

BCSD board extends superintendent contract to 2027

By Press Release

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Press Release:

At a meeting on Monday, the Batavia City School District’s Board of Education unanimously approved an amendment to extend Superintendent Jason Smith’s contract through June 2027.

“After a stellar first year leading the Batavia City School District, the Board of Education is thrilled to offer Superintendent Jason Smith a contract extension that will keep him in our District through June 2027, with the option to extend,” said Board of Education President John Marucci. “Consistency, goal setting, long-term planning, and execution are key components to any successful school district, and we’re proud of Jason’s commitment to seeing his vision for Batavia through.”

In exchange for Smith’s long-term commitment to serve the Batavia City School District, the Board granted Smith non-salary benefits, including a $3,000 per year stipend increase should he elect not to enroll in the District’s health insurance plan, a $2,000 per year increase of his 403(b) retirement contribution, as well as compensation for unused vacation and sick days, which will only be received upon his retirement from the District.

“Batavia is my home. Having walked our halls from first grade through senior year, our District has always held a special place in my heart,” said Superintendent Jason Smith. “It was the honor of my career to be offered the position of superintendent here, and I look forward to working with our students, staff, and community to achieve our shared vision of success for years to come. I thank the Board of Education for their trust in me, and I’m proud to see everyone in our educational community coming together for the good of our District. It continues to be a personal and professional honor to serve the Batavia community, families, staff, and students.” 

“The Board of Education, along with the BCSD leadership team, have made a commitment to our District’s vision and strategic plan,” said Board of Education Vice President John Reigle. “The high bar that we’ve set for this District can only be achieved through consistent leadership. I applaud my fellow Board members' commitment to this vision in approving Jason’s contract extension.”    

All terms (with the exception of the health insurance opt-out stipend) of Superintendent Jason Smith’s contract amendment will take effect on July 1, 2023. All other terms and conditions of the agreement remain unchanged, including the option for both the Board of Education and Jason Smith to extend the contract on an annual basis beyond June 2027.

All BCSD spring sports teams named Scholar-Athlete Teams

By Press Release

Press Release

BATAVIA, NY– The Batavia City School District is proud to announce that all seven of the district’s 2022 spring sports teams were named “Scholar-Athlete Teams” by New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA). 

The BCSD Scholar-Athlete Teams included: 

Baseball, with 13 individual scholar-athletes

Boys Golf, with 17 individual scholar-athletes

Boys Lacrosse (merged with Batavia Notre Dame), with 9 individual scholar-athletes

Boys Outdoor Track and Field, with 29 individual scholar-athletes

Boys Tennis, with 15 individual scholar-athletes 

Girls Outdoor Track and Field, with 25 individual scholar-athletes

Girls Softball, with 13 individual scholar-athletes 

“We couldn’t be more proud of the academic achievements of our spring sports teams across the board,” said Batavia City School District Athletic Director Mike Bromley. “We see how much work our athletes put in out on the field, so it comes as no surprise that they bring that same work ethic to the classroom. These are the wins that make me especially proud as an AD. Congrats to all of our athletes!” 

Per the NYSPHSAA website, at the end of each sports season, a team is honored with Scholar-Athlete status if “the team’s average GPA for 75% of the roster is greater than or equal to 90.00.”

This is the 30th year the NYSPHSAA has conducted the Scholar-Athlete program. For Spring 2022, NYSPHSAA recognized 2,762 Scholar-Athlete teams and 41,441 individuals. A total of 568 schools across the state participated in the Scholar-Athlete program. To view the complete list of Scholar-Athlete teams, click here

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