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Batavia City School District Board of Education

October 20, 2020 - 2:02pm

The Batavia City School District Board of Education continues to explore the most effective ways for citizens to make their feelings known during its monthly meetings.

District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., following up on Board President Alice Ann Benedict’s desire to open the communication lines with the public, said he has come up with several recommendations that could be included in a “public expression” policy.

The board met on Monday night at the high school library.

Soler said his suggestions will be forwarded to the district’s Policy Committee for review and “vetting” before coming back to the full BOE for approval.

“The law technically allows us to have no public participation (during board meetings), but we are making a smart effort to make sure that there is (time for public comments) and I think that is a compliment to the board’s leadership,” Soler said.

The Batavia BOE, according to its policy, encourages public participation on school-related matters at board meetings, setting aside 30 minutes at the beginning of the sessions.

Beyond that, Soler said, currently there aren’t any guidelines or details in place to govern the public sessions.

He said his recommendations were derived from looking at the policies of similar-size districts, such as Geneva and Niagara Falls, as well as the large school districts of Buffalo and Rochester.

They are as follows (subject to review by the Policy Committee):

  • Persons wishing to address the board shall advise the board president prior to the scheduled starting time of the meeting. The request shall be made in writing on a form provided by the district clerk and shall include the name of the speaker, their address, name of organization represented (if any), and the topic to be addressed. Any group or organization wishing to address the board must identify a spokesperson.
  • Presentation should be as brief as possible. Each speaker will be permitted to speak for three minutes. Speakers may comment on any matter related to district business. The board cannot and will not permit public discussions involving individual district personnel or students. Persons wishing to discuss matters involving individual district personnel or students should present their comments and/or concerns to the teacher, the building administrator or superintendent during regular business hours.
  • All speakers are to conduct themselves in a civil manner. Obscene language, libelous statements, threats of violence, statements advocating racial, religious, or other forms of prejudice will not be tolerated.
  • Persons making presentations at a board meeting will address remarks to the president and may direct questions or comments to board members or other district officials only upon the approval of the president. Board members and the superintendent shall have the privilege of asking questions of persons who address the board.
  • Without opening the floor to general audience participation, the board president may call upon staff members or other specially qualified persons whom the board wishes to hear in relation to a specific agenda topic.
  • Questions and comments from the public concerning matters which are not on the agenda will be taken under consideration and referred to the Superintendent for appropriate action. Persons wishing to have matters included on the agenda shall contact the superintendent in accordance with Policy 1510, Regular Board Meetings and Rules (Quorum and Parliamentary Procedure).

​Soler said the board president would rule on matters such as the time to be allowed for public discussion and the appropriateness of the subject being presented. The president also would have the right to halt any presentation that violates the adopted policy.

The form for those wishing to speak at BOE meetings must be filled out in advance. It can be obtained by contacting the superintendent’s office at (585) 343-2480.

In another development:

Soler reported that the principals at the four schools are continuing to work toward maximizing learning, with John Kennedy Principal Brian Sutton exploring the possibility of having all second-graders back in the building for in-person instruction every day.

"We're trying to manage which grades can (go back to in-person learning) and which grades can't, but unfortunately some of our classes have higher enrollments and we can't bring everybody back," he said.

At Batavia High, Principal Paul Kesler are looking at students who are 100 percent virtual but are having difficulties with their studies, with the goal of shifting them back into the school -- even if it isn't on an everyday basis -- as long as their parents are in agreement.

 

September 5, 2020 - 12:02pm

reigle_1.jpgLifelong Batavian John Reigle knows firsthand the importance of teamwork and communication – qualities that he says will serve him well as he takes a seat on the Batavia City School District Board of Education.

Reigle (inset photo right) was a standout wide receiver and kick returner at Batavia High School who earned a football scholarship to South Dakota Tech upon graduating in 1997. He played for three years at the Rapid City, S.D., college, studying business, before returning home.

Twenty years later, his passion for the gridiron continues as commissioner of Batavia Bulldawgs Youth Football, a program that he has been involved with for the past decade.

Earlier this week, Reigle -- father of two Batavia school students and a third who graduated this year -- was appointed to the district’s board of education to replace Patrick Burk, who stepped down after 34-plus years on the board.

“I’ve been involved with the youth in the community through the Batavia Bulldogs and in youth sports with my kids growing up, but I wanted to get involved on the education side of it as well,” Reigle said. “I think it’s important for our district to have parents actively involved, everyone working together on behalf of the students and teachers.”

Reigle attempted to get on the board in June as a write-in candidate, falling short as Alice Ann Benedict (the current president), Barbara Bowman and Tanni Bromley were elected to the three open positions. Still, he garnered 489 votes – an impressive amount as a write-in.

“Superintendent (Anibal) Soler (Jr.) and Business Administrator (Scott) Rozanski reached out to me to see if I was still interested – to make sure that nothing had changed in my life – and when I told them I was, they said the board was interested in having me finish out Pat’s term (which ends in June 2021),” Reigle said.

He was sworn in at Monday’s night board meeting.

Reigle, 41, said the campaign process proved to be an eye-opening experience.

“Just talking to a lot of people – most didn’t know who was on the board or how many people sat on the board,” he recalled. “I hope I can be that connection with the community with the families that I know, to communicate to them that they can voice their opinions and bring them to the board.”

Calling it a “unique year” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes in how students are taught, Reigle praised administrators for “coming up with the best plan for our district.”

“It’s definitely a unique year with the hybrid approach. I really think our administrators did a great job of gathering the feedback from the parents,” he said. “A little over 75 percent of the parents wanted in-school and I think about 20 percent wanted the hybrid, remote learning. I think they did a great job of putting a plan together to fit what the families wanted.”

Reigle said he knows many families in the district and is familiar with a lot of the teachers.

“Knowing families with kids attending in the different (school) buildings will be good,” he said. “And I know a lot of the teachers, I think that will be helpful as well … to be a voice for the teachers as well. They’re a big part of the success at Batavia.”

He said teachers “went above and beyond” in the spring and summer to enable students at all levels to advance.

“Look at the challenges that they’ve had, having to go from no plan or expectation of having everything shut down in March, and still having to teach the kids. The way that they responded was amazing, from communicating with the kids, you saw all the events at graduation to make it special – not only for the seniors but for the eighth-graders who were graduating from middle school and the kids at Jackson School who were graduating into John Kennedy.”

Reigle said he looks forward to working with what he sees as “a great board of education that is eager to listen and do what’s best for the district” and to learn from Benedict, another lifelong Batavian who previously served on the board.

Benedict said Reigle will be a welcome addition.

“We are excited to have John Reigle on the board of education,” she said. “He is enthusiastic … and can give us a new perspective on issues that come to us. We are happy that he was willing to fill our open seat to complete a seven-member board.”

Reigle, manager of Timebuyer Auto Sales on West Main Street, and his wife, Ashlee, live in the City of Batavia. They have three children – Bryce, a 2020 BHS grad who is attending Genesee Community College; Mackenzie, a senior at BHS where she is a first-team all-league girls’ basketball player, and Jordan, a third-grader at John Kennedy Elementary School.

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Burk: Time was Right to Retire

Burk, 63, said he had planned to retire at the end of the 2020-21 school year – when his term expired -- but said that he sped up the timetable as a result of his “confidence” in the leadership of Benedict and “the genuine interest” of Reigle, his replacement.

“So basically after 34-plus years it was time for me to pick me – to concentrate on my other work and opportunities,” he said. “It’s bittersweet, but I feel really good about it.”

Burk said he still has many irons in the fire, so it’s not like he riding off into the sunset.

He said he will now have more time to help establish Main Street 56 Theater at the City Centre (he’s the president of Batavia Players) and continue his role as a consultant for Lee Publications.

He also is the executive director of the Genesee Valley School Boards Association, which represents 22 school boards in Western New York.

July 2, 2020 - 11:13am

Update: 2:30 p.m. -- with comments from Benedict

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Alice Ann Benedict was elected president of the Batavia City School District Board of Education on Wednesday morning, replacing longtime board member Patrick Burk.alice_ann_benedict.jpg

The unanimous selection of the board took place at a reorganizational meeting at the district’s administration conference room.

Benedict, a lifelong Batavian and former BOE president, was appointed in May to fill the board seat vacated by Zachary Korzelius. She then was elected by district residents to a three-year term in voting announced on June 16.

On Wednesday, Benedict, along with board members Barbara Bowman and Tanni Bromley, were sworn in by Business Administrator Scott Rozanski. Bowman and Bromley were re-elected last month.

As she took the president’s seat at the conference table, Benedict said, “Thank you all for your support and please bear with me. It’s been a while since I’ve been president of the board.”

Her first order of business was to call for a nomination for vice president. The board promptly voted for Peter Cecere to fill that position.

Benedict, a BOE member from 1995-2006, is familiar with the leadership role, having served three terms as president.

She and her husband, Wayne, and their three children are Batavia High School graduates. She also is an alumna of Genesee Community College.

"I am excited to be back on the BOE and becoming president is an added honor," Benedict said. "I take the responsibility very seriously and I know my experience from being on the BOE previously, will serve me well."

She said the board is operating during "an unprecedented and challenging time" and is inundated with information concerning students' academics along with the health and safety of students, teachers, staff and the community.

"I urge the community to get involved, participate in meetings, and engage with our Board," she added. "I want all of us to work together to be stakeholders in the future education of all our students."

Burk, who nominated Benedict for president, called the change a “transitional move.” He said that he had planned to retire from the board at the end of this year.

His term expires on June 30, 2021.

“This was a planned thing to bring in new leadership,” said Burk, a board member for close to 30 years. “With the theater up and moving forward, I will be concentrating in that area, and it really wouldn’t make sense to be president and leave (a void).”

He was referring to the Batavia Players Theater 56, which is in the process of relocating from Harvester Avenue to the City Centre as part of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Burk is president, executive and artistic director of Batavia Players.

Burk also serves as the executive director of the Genesee Valley School Boards Association, which represents 22 school boards in Western New York. He is the 2016 recipient of the GVSBA's Albert W. Hawk Award for Distinguished School Board Service for his contributions to public education and children in his community.

Batavia Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. said he wasn’t surprised by the board’s action to elect Benedict, noting that Burk has been involved for quite some time and that this was a “logical step in the transition.”

“Mr. Burk still is a valuable resource – he’s an active member and has a vote – and brings a ton of historical and institutional knowledge (to the board),” Soler said.

June 2, 2020 - 9:49pm

Batavia City School administrators emphasized average class size, non-mandated programs and the property tax rate in making their final presentation of a $51.4 million 2020-21 spending plan to the public at tonight’s board of education budget hearing and meeting on the district’s YouTube channel.

Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. and Business Administrator Scott Rozanski utilized PowerPoint slides during their 30-minute overview, touching upon several metrics, including the budget process, enrollment, demographics, employee structure, outcomes, program offerings, finances, tax implications and voting details.

BUDGET PROCESS

The district was facing a $1.9 million budget shortfall on March 31, Soler said, even before the economy felt the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that had forced the closing of school in mid-March. Since then, teachers and students have been interacting on a remote learning basis.

“The current fiscal challenge … was already going to be there even if COVID happened or didn’t happen,” he said. “We were going to have some tough decisions to be made as an institution.”

Batavia’s student count has dropped by 100 over the past seven years, Soler said, noting that enrollment dictates staffing levels, student-teacher ratios and the amount of state aid the district receives. He also said that state aid has been flat during that time while contractual obligations have increased.

The board adopted the budget on May 19 (almost three months after the process started), achieving its goal of formulating a budget with no increase in property taxes to homeowners.

The proposed budget includes one new item -- a $100,000 capital outlay project to install security door upgrades and landscaping at the Middle School.

ENROLLMENT AND DEMOGRAPHICS

As the school year ends, the district’s K-12 enrollment is at 2,284, with 358 in K-1, 492 in grades 2-4, 705 in grades 5-8, 641 in grades 9-12 and 88 in K-12 out-of-district placements. Another 112 were enrolled in Universal Pre-Kindergarten to raise the total to 2,396.

The average class size, which Soler said was “pretty phenomenal,” is 18 for UPK, 20 for grades 2-4, 20 for grades 5-8, and 22 for grades 9-12.

He said that 62.8 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Seventy-two percent of the students are white, 13 percent black or African-American, and 9 percent are Hispanic or Latino, and the average daily attendance is 92 percent, Soler said.

EMPLOYEE STRUCTURE

Without specifically mentioning the nearly 30 jobs that were terminated or abolished to balance the budget, Soler provided an update on staffing on a full-time equivalent level.

The district employs 245.9 (FTE) teachers, plus 121 teacher aides/clerical staff, 37 maintenance staff (including a School Resource Officer), 24 nutritional services staff, six assistant principals (two each at the high school and middle school), four principals, five administrators and five information technology staff.

Soler said the student to teacher ratio last school year was about 8.2 to 1.

OUTCOMES

“At the end of the day, we’re measured by our outcomes. We’re expected to graduate kids, get them ready for college and career or the world,” Soler said.

The Batavia graduation rate of 92 percent is 9 percentage points higher than the New York State average, Soler said.

However, the district’s state English Language Arts and Math proficiency rates for grades three through eight of 38 percent and 43 percent, respectively, were slightly below the county average of 41 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

“If you look at similar size small city school districts, our rankings are usually in the top five or six …,” he said. “We are a pretty high performing school district in comparison to where we’re supposed to be.”

PROGRAM OFFERINGS

Soler said that two dozen programs that aren’t required by New York State are in the Batavia budget because they are “important to this board of education (and) important to this community.”

Those non-mandated offerings include full-day UPK, kindergarten, transportation, art/music/plays/musicals, counselors/social worker, advanced placement courses, sports, teaching aides and a school resource officer agreement with the Batavia City Police Department.

“(There are) no compromises in anything that we’re offering in either extracurricular or athletics,” he said.

SPENDING PER PUPIL

The district’s expenditures per pupil were broken into three categories – general education, special education and total.

Batavia spends $11,655 per general education student, about $2,000 less that the New York State average, and $33,848 per special education student, about $1,500 more than the state average.

Overall, the total expenditure per pupil at Batavia is $20,892, about $4,000 less than the state average, Soler said.

FINANCES & TAX IMPLICATIONS

Rozanski reported the $51.4 million budget is an increase of $952,000 (1.8 percent) over last year, but the tax levy of $19.5 million is a decrease of $7,362 (0.038 percent).

“For comparison, the CPI or Consumer Price Index is 1.81 percent,” Rozanski said.

Speaking about the state tax cap, he said it fluctuates from year to year, with the district’s 2020-21 tax cap number at negative 0.038 percent.

The district’s nine-year average tax cap allowable increase is 3.51 percent, Rozanski pointed out, but the actual nine-year average tax levy increase is only 1.03 percent – or 2.48 percent less than the average allowed.

“That translates to 71 percent less than what the district could have taxed the taxpayers or about $455,744 more per year on average,” he said. “Over that nine-year period, over $4 million more could have been collected by the district.”

Using current assessed property values from Genesee County, the projected school tax rate will decrease by 26 cents in 2020-21 to $21.30 per thousand of assessed value, Rozanski reported. That figure – and it could change -- is $3 less than the tax rate from 2006-07.

Rozanski said that over the past six years, district residents have received $4.6 million in rebate checks from New York State (as a result of the district’s compliance with the tax cap) while paying $1.36 million in school taxes – “for a net positive to the community of $3.2 million.”

The state will not be offering rebate checks this year … “and probably won’t be anytime soon,” he said.

RESERVES & REVENUE SOURCES

Rozanski said the appropriated fund balance (non-reserves) will decrease by $250,000 to $1.75 million while the appropriated fund balance (reserves) will decrease by $132,143 to $975,146 per the 2020-21 budget.

“(The $250,000) is the surplus in this year’s (2019-20) budget, Rozanski said. “That’s how much we projected to be available as of June 30th to offset next year’s (budget).”

The district is anticipating $27.1 million in state and federal aid for 2020-21, which represents 52.6 percent of its revenue, while taxes will bring in another $19.5 million or 38 percent, Rozanski said. Support from the state is unclear, though, due to revenue losses caused by the coronavirus.

As far as appropriations, about $30 million (57.5 percent) will go to instructional support (payroll), $11 million (21 percent) to employee benefits, and $5.6 million (11 percent) to general support (administration, buildings and grounds). Remaining costs are transportation, debt service and interfund transfers.

VOTING DETAILS

By executive order of the governor, voting will be done by absentee ballot only. Ballots were mailed to district residents and must be received by personnel in the district’s administrative offices at 260 State St. by 5 p.m. June 9 to be considered.

Rozanski recommended that residents mail them back in the postage-paid envelope on or before June 5.

Beside the budget, residents will vote on a referendum for a $619,151 capital project at Jackson Primary School. The money will be taken from the Capital Reserve fund for restroom renovation and an age-appropriate playground.

“This will not impact the tax levy at all as it is coming from our reserve fund,” Rozanski advised. “Our net cost will be about 10 percent ($60,000) when we get aid on that and the rest will go back into the reserve fund.”

Three incumbent board members are running for the three open positions. They are Alice Ann Benedict, Barbara Bowman and Tanni Bromley.

LOOKING AHEAD

Soler said plans for an outdoor commencement ceremony at Van Detta Stadium on June 27 are still on the table, with a meeting with Genesee County Health Department officials scheduled for this Thursday.

June 17 is the last day of remote learning for students and teachers and June 26 is the last day of breakfast and lunch meal distribution.

The superintendent said that he will be forming a “reopening task force” to look at three options for this fall – traditional classroom setting with social distancing, a hybrid model of traditional and distance learning, and exclusively remote learning.

“We have to thank about what this will look like, the implications,” he said, adding that he expects to receive guidance from state leaders within a week or so and have plans in place by July.

June 2, 2020 - 9:56am

The Batavian has reached out to school board candidates in Genesee County to get their answers to five questions prior to voting on June 9.

In the Batavia City School District, incumbents Barbara Bowman and Tanni Bromley along with recent appointee Alice Ann Benedict are running for three board seats. The candidates receiving the most votes will serve from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023, while the third-place candidate’s term will be June 9, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

The questions are as follows:

1 -- What is your position on your school district’s proposed budget for 2020-21? What parts do you support? What parts would you change if you could?

2 -- Are teachers in your district compensated adequately?

3 -- With what we know now about COVID-19, should schools reopen in the fall?

4 -- Are you satisfied that your district responds to parents’ complaints and concerns in a way that ensures the parents know they have been heard?

5 -- What two books published since The Enlightenment have influenced you the most?

ALICE ANN BENEDICT

1 -- I am in total support of the year’s district proposed budget for 2020-2021. The BOE, Scott Rozanski, Superintendent Soler worked hard and responsibly to meet all the educational needs of the students of this district with this budget.

2 -- Great teachers are the most valuable resource in our school district. That being said, Batavia is not the most affluent community in New York State and our ability to compensate our staff is based on our taxpayers’ ability to fund the district. I believe, in general, that our current compensation is adequate and I hope that our community’s prosperity will help improve our district’s long-term ability to continue to attract and retain the best and brightest educators and team members available.

3 -- I think that our district should follow the guidelines that will be suggested by the Governor, New York State School Boards Association, The Genesee County Health Department and our Superintendent. Each school district in the state has a different circumstances to contend with. Our school district is different than, let’s say, Elba’s because of the number of students, their school campus, their busing policies etc. Therefore, we should consider our own needs and use a process that best suits our district, that takes into account our students, our campuses, our busing needs etc. and reopen when it best suits all concerned, when its safest for all students, staff, families and our community. With that being said, I’d like to thank and commend our teachers and staff for how they’ve handled this crisis and truly put the needs of Batavia students and families first. 

4 -- From my previous BOE experience (11 years on the BOE) I have realized three things about responses to parents: 1. Our BOE should be speaking with one voice to ensure consistency and clarity of our message. 2. Going forward, I will promote transparency and open communication and answers to any questions and be forthcoming whenever possible. 3. I encourage parents and families to ask questions and engage with us during this difficult time. It’s important for the BOE to listen and respond thoughtfully whenever and wherever we can. During these unprecedented times, it’s essential for the BOE to be as transparent and supportive of open two-way communication as possible.

5 -- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin; American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America by Edmund S. Morgan

BARBARA BOWMAN

1 -- After careful consideration and further conversations, the board unanimously approved the proposed budget. We supported the budget in its entirety. I cannot stress enough how important I feel it is to support the teachers and to support the community. I believe to be of substantial help to our students, who are our first priority, we need to be able to use collaboration and work together as a team.

2 -- The Teachers Association negotiates their compensation on a 3-4-year contract. The Board of Education approves the final negotiation contract on the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools.

3 -- I believe Batavia CSD should follow the guidelines that will be provided by Governor Cuomo and the Genesee County Dept of Health, on the advice of the CDC and WHO. Having said that, as a grandparent, I support the reopening of school in the fall, provided we can follow all safety guidelines put forth. Technology is an amazing tool and should be used but it can never replace teacher- student interactions and relationships.   

4 – The Board of Education allows the opportunity for all public to be heard during public session in addition to allowing questions to be submitted for review on the district website. We obviously cannot answer every question that is received however when there are several questions with similar content, we as a board, take time to consider them and provide thoughtful answers.

5 -- To Kill A Mockingbird; Night.

TANNI BROMLEY

1 -- After careful consideration and further conversations, the board unanimously approved the proposed budget. We supported the budget in its entirety.

2 -- The district continuously has a full pipeline of candidates for open positions, this is in part due to having competitive compensation as compared to similar districts. Additionally, our Teachers Association negotiates their compensation on a 3-4-year contract which The Board of Education approves on the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools.

3 -- I believe Batavia CSD should follow the guidelines that will be provided by Governor Cuomo and the Genesee County Dept of Health, on the advice of the CDC and WHO. If the guidelines are to open in the fall with certain restrictions and accommodations, then yes.

4 -- The Board of Education allows the opportunity for all public to be heard during public session in addition to allowing questions to be submitted for review on the district website. We obviously cannot answer every question that is received, however, when there are several questions with similar content, we as a board, take time to consider them and provide thoughtful answers.

5 -- Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom; Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

June 1, 2020 - 2:06pm

The agenda for Tuesday night’s Batavia City School District Board of Education meeting sheds more light on the jobs earmarked for termination or abolishment under the 2020-21 budget,

According to the agenda of the meeting, which can be viewed on the BOE website’s YouTube channel, the following positions are being terminated, effective July 1:

-- Five elementary teachers (who worked at either Jackson Primary School or Batavia Middle School);
-- A special education teacher (middle school);
-- A reading teacher (middle school).

Additionally, numerous positions will be abolished. They are:

-- Coordinator of assessment and instruction (administration);
-- Instructional technology coordinator (administration);
-- Deputy school district treasurer (district-wide);
-- Math teacher, science teacher and social studies teacher (high school);
-- Half-time music teacher (high school);
-- Library media specialist (middle school);
-- Reading teacher (middle school);
-- Special education teacher (middle school) and special education teacher (high school);
-- Nine elementary teachers (six at Jackson, two at John Kennedy Elementary and one at middle school);
-- Clerk-typist (middle school);
-- Building maintenance worker (middle school).

Personnel cuts were approved by the board of education at its April 28th meeting in order to close a significant gap in a $51.4 million budget. Staff reductions and other cost-saving measures enabled the board to present a budget with no property tax rate increase.

Previously, Business Administrator Scott Rozanski reported that 12.5 positions were reduced through retirements and resignations, with 10 more full-time-equivalents cut via long-term substitute assignments ending June 30.

Board of Education President Patrick Burk today said he thinks this action will have minimal impact upon students.

“We’ve done this with the cooperation of our building leaders and principals and we are working very hard to make sure that the impact on students is minimal. I believe that it will be,” he said. “All we can do now is plan and see what is going to be happening for the upcoming year – and all that’s up in the air still. We’ll find out what the actual impact is as time goes on.”

Burk said that the process has been very difficult as well as “sad and nerve-wracking.”

“I’m a big supporter of our staff as people will tell you,” he said. “I think we have an excellent staff. We do a great job of hiring. We do a fantastic job with making sure students are cared for. Anytime that things are interrupted for any reason it’s a very sad situation.”

Voting on the budget is taking place by absentee paper balloting.

Absentee ballots must be returned by mail no later than 5 p.m. on June 9 to the Office of the District Clerk at Batavia High School Administrative Offices, 260 State St., Batavia, NY 14020. Any absentee ballot received after 5 p.m. on June 9 will not be considered.

When asked if he was concerned about the reduction of so many elementary teaching positions, Burk explained that decreased enrollment in the younger grades played some part of that decision.

 “I do know that two or three of those were because of enrollment. If we don’t have the enrollment, we can’t maintain the number of sections we have in a specific grade,” he said. “All people in all positions who work for this district are very important to me, and I think that that message could be lost. My hope is that eventually we will have some sort of rebound and not all the negative that seems to be out there – with what could be coming down the road.”

Burk responded to a question about the cost per pupil by stating that it’s not a true assessment of a district’s effectiveness. He said the district’s total enrollment (Universal Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade) is around 2,400 students.

“I know that we’re much lower than many other small city schools, and obviously, in some cases we might be a little bit higher, but it’s not a good practice to really compare from that level because a lot of it is dependent on what has to be made available in the district,” he said.

He said a particular small city school has less students than Batavia, but a larger budget because it services a “tremendous number of students with special needs – especially English language learners.”

“So, right there you’re bringing in a tremendous amount of people to work and develop language skills, plus special ed and more. Plus, when you’re in a situation like that, it’s over every grade – not just one grade that you have to add someone to,” he said.

Burk said Batavia supports a wide variety of educational programs at all grade levels, including elementary music and art.

“Kindergarten isn’t even mandated in New York State; we offer full-day kindergarten,” he said. “There are a lot of things that are really comparing apples to oranges unless you’re looking at the services that are provided.”

Burk also commented on last week’s vote by the Batavia Teachers’ Association to reject a proposal by administration to change the school day starting and ending times. If it had passed, the district would have realized an additional $200,000 in savings that were not part of the 2020-21 budget.

“If the staff and the families are not in favor of the proposal …that’s certainly understandable," he said. "It was done in a way to make sure that we can keep everything going properly for our kids – and everything’s going to same this year anyway. I’m fine with the vote, and I thank them for putting it to a vote. It’s pretty much what I expected.”

May 23, 2020 - 9:42am

As the Batavia City School District’s Board of Education worked to reach its goal of a 2020-21 budget with no property tax rate increase, tough decisions had to be made -- most notably the need to cut a significant number of jobs.

At its April 28th meeting, the board announced an across-the-board reduction of at least 30 positions, including administrators, teachers, aides and clerical staff.

Earlier this week, the board passed a $51.4 million spending plan and, according to Business Administrator Scott Rozanski, the impact of those cuts, when converting them to “full-time equivalents,” isn’t as severe as originally believed.

Rozanski today said that 10 of the 33 FTE positions removed from the budget are reductions to existing staff, with seven teachers and one clerical employee losing their jobs. The other two of those 10 FTEs are vacant positions in administration that won’t be filled, he said.

“So, technically, eight permanent employees are affected at this point in time,” Rozanski said.

The remainder of the reductions is as follows:

-- Five FTE via retirements;
-- Seven and a half FTE via resignations;
-- Ten FTE via long-term substitute assignments ending June 30;
-- One half FTE via reductions to the budget (contracted new position).

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for the board’s next meeting at 6 p.m. June 2, and voting will take place by paper ballot on June 9. Ballots were mailed to all eligible voters and must be returned (in a provided postage-paid envelope) by 5 p.m. June 9th to be considered.

The public also will vote on a $619,151 capital project to construct an age-appropriate playground at Jackson Primary School, he said.

In a related development, the Batavia Teachers’ Association will vote next Thursday (May 28) on a proposal to change the school day schedule. 

BTA President Mark Warren said today that voting by employees who work at the four district schools will take place by an online balloting system, and results will be available that evening.

“Each of the four buildings will have separate votes and if they all vote in favor of it, then it will pass,” Warren said.

If approved, it reportedly would save the district about $200,000 in transportation costs.

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.

May 19, 2020 - 7:09pm

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.

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