To help expand and extend what Batavia City schools can offer students, a group of community supporters have come together to form the Batavia City School District Foundation, a nonprofit that will raise money within the community to assist with scholarships, grants for innovative classroom initiatives, sports and recognition awards for those who help city schools.
The foundation held its kickoff event last night at Carter's Restaurant.
"In the Batavia City School District, we do a very good job with the budget and the funds we have," said Leslie Johnson, foundation chair. "The tax base is slightly sluggish, but does that impede our progress? Fortunately, no, but it limits where we can go with that as far as what is required and a few steps beyond. We would like to go further."
During opening remarks, Superintendent Chris Dailey said among the opportunities he envisions is the ability for teachers to come up with innovative ideas or discover pieces of equipment that might be useful in the classroom and then, outside of the normal budget cycle, apply for grants to try out those ideas. If they work, then perhaps they can be incorporated into the next budget.
"We want to be on the cutting edge, not the bleeding edge when it comes to innovation," Dailey said.
With a 95-percent graduation rate and many creative programs and demonstrated success in academics, arts, and athletics, the district is already among the best in the region, Daily said. The foundation and community support can help make it one of the best in the nation, he said.
The foundation will also provide scholarships for students who want to further their education and provide recognition awards for those who provide exceptional aid to the district in fulfilling its mission.
The idea for the foundation started with School Board Chairman Pat Burk many years ago, and he suggested Johnson to Dailey as a champion of the idea. Johnson, Dailey said, turned out to be the perfect choice because she had the vision and the ability to see it through. Dailey said staff member Bobbi Norton was also instrumental in organizing the foundation.
Jim Owen, Batavia's most popular substitute teacher, pictured above with Johnson, was also recognized as one of the honorary chairs because of his early financial support of the foundation.
Johnson said the desire to create a philanthropic foundation for the school district has little to do with constraints on revenue by the property tax cap or any sense of revenue shortage, but a real desire to help fund the gap between how good the district is and how good it can be, and just offer more opportunities for students to grow, learn and achieve.
"We hope to appeal to people who are already spending money philanthropic dollars elsewhere, and we're saying, 'keep it at home where it can really make a difference for these kids,' " Johnson said.