The Batavia City School District Board of Education tonight unanimously passed its 2020-21 budget, a $51.4 million spending plan that does not raise property taxes but comes with personnel reductions that were made to close what previously was a $1.6 million shortfall.
Voting took place at the board’s videoconference meeting on its YouTube channel and all seven members cast a “yes” vote.
The board also voted on the district’s yearly capital outlay project, choosing to fund the replacement of exterior doors and landscaping at the Batavia Middle School on Ross Street. The other options were a new restroom at the Jackson Primary School gym and a new stage floor and new clocks at the Batavia High School auditorium.
Board members cited safety of the students as the main factor in selecting the middle school project.
The capital outlay project will cost the district only $10,000, with the other $90,000 covered by an aid appropriation.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for the board’s next meeting at 6 :30 p.m. June 2, and voting will take place by paper ballot on June 9.
Business Administrator Scott Rozanski said that ballots will be mailed to all eligible voters by the end of this week, and must be returned (in a provided postage-paid envelope).
The public also will vote on a $618,000 capital project to construct an age-appropriate playground at Jackson Primary School, he said.
Concerning the budget, the board was forced to make numerous spending cuts over the past few weeks due to a significant decrease in state aid and having to meet a “negative” tax cap figure.
It slashed about 30 positions – some full-time, some part-time, and some long-term substitutes – and followed that up by scaling back three BOCES programs.
Other cost-cutting measures included delaying equipment and supply purchases, putting a moratorium on conference attendance and holding off on the hiring of a second School Resource Officer.
At tonight’s meeting, Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. reported that only about a dozen individuals will be losing their jobs due to shifting positions around, retirements and vacancies that won’t be filled.
Rozanski said not much has changed since the board’s last meeting two weeks ago.
“If the state reduces state aid – and there has been no notification as of today -- then the district will need to decide on further reductions or using more reserves,” he said.
Pertinent financial information can be found on the BOE’s website at www.bataviacsd.org, and then scroll over the District Information tab before clicking on the Board of Education tab.
The district's Property Tax Report Card will be posted on the website homepage's "Spotlight" section sometime on Wednesday.
Rozanski also said that a vote of the Batavia Teachers’ Association on changing the school day schedule has yet to take place, but “will not impact this budget, although it might assist moving forward if there are more state aid reductions.”
Soler has proposed altering the schedules at the four schools, a move that would save $200,000 in transportation costs by having to use fewer buses.
BTA President Mark Warren told The Batavian that a vote of employees who work at each of the schools will take place sometime next week and definitely by June 1. It is believed that each school would have to vote in favor of the schedule change for the measure to pass.
The proposed schedule change is as follows:
-- Putting Batavia High and Batavia Middle on a 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. schedule. Currently, the schedule at those two schools is 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
-- Putting John Kennedy and Jackson on a 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. schedule. Currently, the schedule at those two schools is 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Board President Patrick Burk answered several questions he received via email from the public and invited people to submit questions to be addressed at the next meeting as well. To submit a question, send an email to: [email protected] and include your name, address and contact information.
In another development that hopefully will bring some joy to the seniors who have seen their school year cut short, Soler announced that the BHS Commencement is tentatively scheduled (contingent upon the COVID-19 situation) for 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 at Van Detta Stadium at Richmond Avenue and Union Street.
The superintendent also advised that the last day of remote learning will be June 17, thus fulfilling state and union contract requirements.