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Batavia City Schools

November 14, 2022 - 11:33pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Batavia City Schools, construction, notify.

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Files photo of 245 Liberty St., Batavia being demolished in July 

City school board members approved more than $89,000 in change orders this week for work being done at Jackson Primary and Batavia High schools.

The nine change orders — additional expenses usually for “unforeseen” work discovered during the job-in-progress — ranged from $1,369 to $24,443. With no questions or discussion, the board approved the financial revisions during its regular meeting Monday at the high school.

Work includes:

  • Having to disconnect and remove an unforeseen utility service at Jackson Primary for $7,209.
  • Development, labor and materials associated with installing a fence, posts, and to extend sidewalks to accommodate setting the fence posts within a walkway at Jackson Primary, $9,592.
  • Installing curb work along Liberty Street and Blakely Place at Jackson Primary, $4,112.
  • Removing the unforeseen underground storage tank during excavation at Jackson Primary, $3,311.
  • Having to lower the ceiling grid system in room 167 as well as construct a bulkhead and lower 40 square feet of ceiling to accommodate lighting at BHS, $1,369.
  • Installing insulation to the exposed water lines at BHS, $1,392.
  • Installing plyron flooring (impact resistant, hardboard-faced plywood) in lieu of plywood sub-flooring at stage sacrificial floor at BHS, $18,394.
  • Labor and materials for plumbing and heating company to replace the incoming gas line at the loading dock at BHS, $19,266.
  • Labor and materials to replace an underground gas line feeder from the loading dock to the gas meter at BHS, $24,443.

A capital project stemming from 2020 at Jackson Primary includest the expansion of outdoor amenities at the southside school.  It has included demolition of a building at 245 Liberty St., Batavia, which was donated to the city school district in December 2017. Taking down the former Country Pride Bakery Mart is part of a plan to create additional parking and green spaces, and a pedestrian walkway adjacent to Jackson Primary School. 

Work at the high school includes an emergency replacement of two water boilers.

November 10, 2022 - 5:45pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Batavia City Schools, Veterans Day, notify.

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Harold McJury’s four grandchildren ran over to him after an assembly Thursday in Batavia High School’s auditorium.

He had been one of the guests of honor during a Veterans Day ceremony.

“It’s so fun, I get to see my grandpa at school,” granddaughter Lucy Taggart said, just moments after playing the solemn “Taps” on trumpet. “And celebrate him.”

It wasn’t the first such ceremony for McJury, he said, but he liked that this one included students.

“The first thing that goes through my mind is that it's wonderful to have the high school do something like this for the veterans because that helps young people to understand what a veteran is. And then they go on, and maybe they'll be in the service, maybe they won't, but a few of them probably will, so they understand the importance of serving our country,” he said. “And, as far as myself goes, I was very fortunate because I went into service during Vietnam, and I always felt it was my duty to do that. So I figured the best place to be, and would be in the Navy. The Navy is a good place. To be in all the services are good, but I always thought the Navy was something special.”

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McJury, a Batavia native, served in the U.S. Navy from 1969 to 1973. The 72-year-old liked submarines and wanted to be stationed on one “since I was a little boy,” he said. He was part of the Submarine Service with the USS Lafayette, which was christened by then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in May 1962.

Married 52 years to his wife Donna, they even had a Christmas dinner on a sub around 1972. Their granddaughter isn’t the only musical one in the family, as all of them are involved in band, and grandpa plays trumpet as well.

He plays for events at the National Cemetery in Corfu and has years of experience.

“So I've played trumpet all my life as well. They're all playing something,” he said. “I feel that being a veteran, and defending our country, is a very important thing. And I do still feel that to this day, there should be a time between high school and college that you serve a year or so. You know, you don't have to stay, you just go for a year. It sort of solidifies all that stuff.”

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Thursday’s ceremony included a band medley of various popular and patriotic tunes; vocal solos for “The Star-Spangled Banner” by student Abigail Hoerbelt and “God Bless America” by student Clara Wood; a strings performance of signature military songs, prompting branch members to stand when their song was played; and a message from keynote speaker Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

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"There are never enough words to fully express our appreciation and gratitude, gratitude for the sacrifice the veterans have made for our nation,” Hawley said. “Their courage and determination are a true testament to the American spirit and embodiment of freedom and celebration of what our nation stands for.”

A veteran himself, Hawley’s family also served, including his late father R. Stephen Hawley,  who served in Burma during World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star as part of Merrill’s Marauders. Hawley’s uncle also served during World War II, and was awarded a Purple Heart for the wounds he received during the war.

Hawley talked about “one of the crowning pieces of legislation that I've sponsored, that got signed into law,” referring to the Gold Star Families bill that provides free college tuition for Gold Star families who have lost a loved one during military service.

“As we gather here today to honor our heroes, please know we can never say thank you enough for the service of our veterans, to our country. Please, today take a moment to reflect on what it means to live in America, and the sacrifices our veterans have made to keep us safe and free,” he said. “And please thank them for their service when you see them 365 days a year. God bless America. Happy Veterans Day everybody.”

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Top Photo: Batavia High School student Lucy Taggart plays "Taps" for the finale of a Veterans Day assembly Thursday at the Frank E. Owen Auditorium; High school Principal Paul Kesler talks about the veterans, including Lucy's grandpa Harold McJury, second from left, and their service; students perform patriotic songs in a strings section, concert band (not pictured) and chorus; keynote speaker Assemblyman Steve Hawley offers a thankful message to veterans; Kesler and members Michael Marchese and Matt Doeringer of Boy Scouts Troop 6 serve as the color guard. Photos by Joanne Beck.

October 21, 2022 - 4:42pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Batavia City Schools, notify.

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There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place were colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.

Those words of a poem captured the goal for the newly re-opened Robert Morris School, Principal Maureen Notaro said during a ceremony Friday morning.

“When we needed more space at Jackson Primary, I suggested that we move our pre-kindergarten classrooms over to Robert Morris. We had many conversations about who, what, why, when, and where over the months last spring and summer,” said Notaro, principal of Jackson Primary and its pre-school satellite at Robert Morris on Richmond Avenue and Union Street. “This was a collaborative effort with one thing in common; we all shared the same vision of early literacy. We wanted to create a magical place where students felt happy and accepted, where they would meet new friends and flourish to start off their first experience at school in Batavia.”

Robert Morris has a storied history, from its construction of a 12-room site in 1928 to accommodate elementary students, to the closing in 2012 when students were merged with Jackson Primary and John Kennedy Intermediate as a savings measure through consolidation, to now, once again, being used as a city school due to what officials have said were rising pre-school numbers and a need for extra space not available at the primary school.

City school officials, staff, parents, and children gathered outside of the school to celebrate its resurrected use for education of city school district students. Robert Morris has “a deep and proud history within our community,” with thousands of community members passing through its legendary halls, Trisha Finnigan said on behalf of Superintendent Jason Smith, who was absent due to illness.

“I have no doubt of the impact this beautiful campus has had on countless fellow Batavians,” Smith said. “I see it in the comments, likes, and engagement … in the celebratory calls and emails I’ve been getting from our neighbors, and from community members stopping me in Tops and at our sporting events across the street at VanDetta Stadium.

“It took a true village of passionate BCSD team members to bring our vision of reopening Robert Morris to life,” he said.

Smith credited his district leadership team of Finnigan, Scott Rozanski and Molly Corey, all who assisted with the “monumental logistical task of opening a school and staffing it,” and to Notaro and Assistant Principal Jessica Torrey.

After the school was closed for district educational use a decade ago, the building was used either for district needs (public relations, information technology), or rented out to various organizations, including BOCES, a daycare, Harvester Center, and Arc. After receiving comments that Jackson Primary was getting pretty tight due to increased enrollments, the district bumped up first grade’s eight sections to 10, which then created a need for additional space at Jackson. Four UPK sections have been moved to Robert Morris.

“Students who attend UPK get adjusted to what school will look like next year in Kindergarten,” Notaro said. “Exposure to school routines in preschool prepares them for the structure and the expectations of kindergarten. Research tells us that experiences in the early years are the foundation of long-term growth of a child. Preschool is much more about developing social-emotional skills than it is about developing academic skills.” 

These social-emotional skills include learning to share and take turns, showing empathy for classmates and self-regulating their own strong emotions, she said. Without skills like these, “children will have a hard time moving on to academic achievement in later years,” she said. 

“We are very excited to reopen Jackson Primary Satellite at Robert Morris. We have experienced great success in combining our preschool with Universal Pre Kindergarten to provide a rich early literacy experience for our students of Batavia and surrounding areas,” Notaro said.

There are 72 kids in Universal Pre-Kindergarten and about 30 in the pre-school program, which can also accommodate up to 70 students, she said. While Notaro has been at the district for 23 years, this is Torrey’s second year as assistant principal in a total 15 years at the district. She has found that “there's always excitement to come to pre K, whether they're at Jackson or whether they're at Robert Morris,” Torrey said.

“They love their first school experience because they're always excited to be here,” she said. “But we have noticed an increase in excitement from parents and community members in this building because it is such a beloved building in our community.”

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Top photo: Pre-schoolers Braxton Bliven and Troy Briggs help with the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Principal Maureen Notaro Friday at Robert Morris school in Batavia; above is Assistant Principal Jessica Torrey. Photos by Joanne Beck.

September 29, 2022 - 2:01pm
posted by Press Release in news, Batavia City Schools, school resource officers.

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Press Release

Officials from the Batavia Police Department (BPD) and the Batavia City School District (BCSD) officially introduced the community to School Resource Officers (SRO) for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens, who has served as an SRO since 2021, is returning this school year, and Batavia Police Officer Connor Borchert, who started with BCSD in September, was officially introduced as the district’s second SRO.

School Resource Officers are trained in school-based law enforcement and crisis response. They work directly with school administrators and staff to enable a safe learning environment, and act as a resource for students, staff, and community. Officers Stevens and Borchert will serve as a liaison between the school district and police department, and will provide essential on-campus law enforcement, informal student mentoring, as well as participate in select in-person teaching opportunities in the classroom.

“Health and safety are our top priorities across the Batavia City School District. In addition to adding another School Resource Officer, we’re prioritizing funding and grants to provide essential mental health resources to assist with social and emotional issues that have emerged as a result of the pandemic. We’re approaching school safety from a variety of angles and appreciate the incredible support we’ve received from the Board of Education, our administrators, staff, students, parents, and community members,” said Jason Smith, Superintendent, Batavia City School District. “We also want to thank the Batavia Police Department who have been a great partner throughout this process—we have shared goals of community health and safety, and our collaboration will certainly help support our students and families.”

“The safety of students is of paramount importance to the Batavia Police Department and we want the parents and caregivers of students to know that their children’s safety is our highest priority, especially while they are attending school and school related events,” said Shawn Heubusch, Chief, Batavia Police Department.  “We are working very closely and collaboratively with Batavia City School District officials on this important community concern.”

In addition, Dr. Molly Corey, BCSD Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, discussed resources available to students and families, including mental health programs, additional grant funding, and counselor support, while Athletic Director Mike Bromley also discussed the enhanced security measures recently adopted at Van Detta Stadium.

Officer Stevens has been with the BPD for four years and has been an SRO in Batavia for approximately a year and a half while also serving as a substitute SRO prior to becoming full-time. A Batavia native, Officer Stevens attended Pembroke Central School District and graduated from Genesee Community College and SUNY Brockport where she studied and earned degrees in Criminal Justice.

Officer Borchert is from Akron and has been with the BPD since 2019.  He is a 2015 graduate of Akron Central School and attended Niagara University earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology with a minor in Sociology.

“The City of Batavia is pleased to support and provide the resources to bring on a second SRO for our schools,” said City Council President Eugene (Geno) Jankowski Jr.  “One of the key components of our annual strategic plan is to ensure that our residents feel safe.  Protecting our children is one of our top priorities.”

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Top Photo: Batavia Police Officers Connor Borchert and Miah Stevens, the city school district's school resource officers; and above, City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and Superintendent Jason Smith. Submitted photos.

September 19, 2022 - 2:01pm
posted by Press Release in news, Batavia City Schools, blue devils hall of fame.

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Press Release

Any community members who would like to attend the 2022 Batavia Blue Devil Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner can purchase tickets in the Athletic Office at Batavia High School or send a check payable to The Batavia Coaches Association (260 State St. Batavia, NY 14020) by Friday, September 23.

Tickets are $40 per adult and $20 for children under 10. 

The 2022 Hall of Fame Inductees will be introduced at halftime of the Batavia vs Pal-Mac homecoming football game on Friday, September 30th. Game time is 7:00 pm.

On Saturday, October 1, 2022, the committee will host the Hall of Fame Dinner at the Batavia Downs Banquet Facility. A social hour will begin at 5:00 pm with dinner served at 6:00 pm and the ceremony immediately following dinner.

The 2022 Inductees are:

  • Benjamin Martino (1959): Football, Wrestling
  • Paul Blossom (1968): Football, Swimming, Track & Field
  • Richard Saunders (1971):Athlete: Swimming, Football, Baseball, Bowling; Coach: Swimming, Wrestling, Baseball
  • Sandy (Samiec) Reeg (1979): Tennis
  • Kristie (DuRei) DeFreze (2005): Gymnastics, Cheerleading, Track & Field
  • Michael Chmielowiec (2005): Basketball
  • Boys Basketball Team (2005): State Semi-Finalist
  • Jermaine Henderson (2006): Football, Track & Field

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Athletic Director’s Office (585) 343-2480 ext. 2003.

 

September 13, 2022 - 8:11pm
posted by Press Release in news, Batavia City Schools, grant, County Mental Health, COVID-19.

Press Release

The Batavia City School District is proud to announce it has received $1.4M in grant funding from the New York State Office of Mental Health under the “Student Mental Health Support Grants to School Districts” program to assist with mental health issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a national survey described in a recent publication of Pediatrics: An Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted both parent’s and children's mental health. The need to address the emotional and psychological wellbeing of children has never been more important.”

New York State’s Office of Mental Health announced the grants in March of 2022 specifically developed for public school students, families, faculty, and staff with the purpose of “improving access to mental health resources, support students who have experienced stress, anxiety and/or trauma, and to support the adults that surround them.” 

According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), “Research demonstrates that students who receive social-emotional and mental health support perform better academically.”

“This grant will provide much-needed assistance to our students and staff,” said Superintendent Jason Smith. “We are still evaluating the learning loss associated with the past two years of the pandemic, but it’s safe to say it’s had an extraordinary impact on our students’ mental health. We thank the Office of Mental Health for prioritizing students in our state and will certainly put these funds to good use.” 

According to the grant information, “The expectation is that this enhancement will be utilized to address inequities and provide additional availability and access to the continuum of strategies and supports that address the mental health of students. The objectives of this grant include enhancing access to mental health services, implementing integrated mental health supports, and strengthening community partnerships.”

“The impact of the pandemic across all areas of our students' lives cannot be underestimated,” said Dr. Molly Corey, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction. “With grant programs like these, we can fill in the gaps with our curriculum, programming, and resources to make sure no student falls through the cracks and gets the support they need to be successful and get back on track.” 

BCSD’s plans for the funding are currently under review and will be announced to the community at a later date.

 

September 1, 2022 - 10:00pm

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Jim Owen, in red, back row, a familiar face as a long-time substitute teacher at Batavia City School District and honorary Mayor of Redfield Parkway, visited the high school to check out the newly named Frank E. Owen Auditorium, dedicated to his late father for forging a new and successful music program at the district during his 37 years as music director.

Owen was not able to make last week's dedication in person, but he was present in spirit, and via a pre-recorded video message of how much the event and naming meant to him, emphasizing that it was in honor of his father, music students, teachers and all that use the State Street auditorium. Superintendent Jason Smith, left, and BHS Principal Paul Kesler, right, flank Owen in a group of Blue Devils students happy to join in.

Earlier this week during a Board of Education meeting, the board accepted a $5,000 donation from Owen. He gave it for "any enhancements in the Frank E. Owen Batavia High School Auditorum at the discretion of the district."

Photo submitted by the city school district.

August 26, 2022 - 9:53pm
posted by Press Release in news, Batavia City Schools, NYS Comptroller, notify.

Press Release

“Today, the New York State Office of the Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability, released an audit report addressing the Batavia City School District’s Information Technology (IT) Equipment Inventory based on findings from July 1, 2018, through February 8, 2022. 

The report found that during this time period, the district did not adopt a comprehensive policy for establishing and maintaining IT inventory, did not maintain an accurate IT inventory, and could not locate 229 computers, 62 tablets, and paid approximately $17,000 in annual service fees in the 2021-22 fiscal year for the missing devices. 

Since arriving in the district in early 2022, I have been brought up to speed with our current issues, and I take the findings in this report very seriously. The administration and I take full responsibility for the errors outlined in this audit and are taking appropriate corrective action steps to mitigate the problem and ensure a comprehensive policy is followed going forward. These steps include:

  • 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. 

While there is no excuse for the results found during this audit, we do recognize that the turnover in BCSD administration and our IT department since 2019 contributed to and compounded our IT management issues. Once we have completed the assessment from the third-party company, we will plan to implement their recommendations across the district. 

As a result of this audit, one of my top priorities is to return our IT department to good standing and set our team up with a process to ensure these mistakes don’t occur in the future. 

I understand there may be further questions surrounding this report. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected]

Thank you for your understanding. We can and will do better going forward.”  

Jason A. Smith                                                                                                                                                            Superintendent, Batavia City Schools

July 5, 2022 - 3:35pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Batavia City Schools, Keep Kids Fed, notify.

After evaluating the possibility of providing more free meals during the summer, Batavia City Schools officials have been able to extend the Keep Kids Fed program for Batavia students up to 18 years old.

Meals will be provided at two sites per day for these students beginning this Wednesday, Business Administrator Scott Rozanski said Tuesday afternoon. This extended program will run to August 26.

Families may pick up a free breakfast and lunch bundle from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Wednesdays at John Kennedy Intermediate School, 166 Vine St., Batavia, and 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at Genesee Country Farmers Market in the former JC Penney's parking lot downtown.

Or families may get a free breakfast and lunch bundle from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Fridays at the Jackson Primary School, 411 South Jackson St.

Batavia’s district already has summer extended programs at Batavia High School-BOCES for breakfast, and at Batavia Middle School, Jackson Primary and John Kennedy Intermediate for breakfast and lunch, Rozanski had said in a previous article.

Beginning June 27, these meals will be provided to YMCA’s youth program Monday through Friday, and also Monday through Friday for the city’s Parks and Recreation program from Tuesday, July 5 through Aug. 12.

Once it was announced late last week that the Keep Kids Fed program was being funded to extend the service, city schools officials needed to "determine if we have sufficient personnel to staff either of these two options and, if not, what adjustments can we make to our current summer programs to be able to accommodate this program,” he said during a prior discusion with The Batavian about the program. “We are also waiting for the approval from NYS Child Nutrition (CN).”

Click here for prior article about this program, or go to bataviacsd.org for more information.


 

 

June 15, 2022 - 11:39pm

Lockdowns, evacuations, responses to violent threats: they’re all part of the city school’s current District-wide Safety Plan table of contents.

They -- and the several remaining topics -- are also up for comment during a public hearing this week.

“It is a requirement of the board to hold a public hearing and reading of the proposed safety plan and allow the public 30 days to comment or ask questions,” Superintendent Jason Smith said Wednesday to The Batavian.

The hearing is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Batavia High School superintendent's conference room, 260 State St., Batavia. It is a prelude to the city’s Board of Education meeting that follows.

“Our plan continues to implement global school safety ‘best practices.’ Each school has a customized safety plan specific to its building that cannot be shared with the public,” Smith said. “The only change to this year’s district-wide plan will include personnel updates, which will be discussed on Thursday.”

The plan is available for review HERE.

Batavia City Schools’ Safety Committee is chaired by Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Mike Bromley, and includes members of the faculty and staff from throughout the district. The committee has reviewed and approved the Safety Plan, and submitted it to the board for final vote (after the hearing period is complete).

“As always, community members are welcome to attend the Board of Education meeting on Thursday or watch via our District YouTube channel,” Smith said. “Comments, questions, and feedback are welcome and will be reviewed by the Board prior to the final implementation of the plan.”

He also suggested that parents and community members can send comments or questions to District Chairman Mike Bromley at [email protected]

Other items for the board meeting include discussion about district needs and the position of School Resource Officer;  presentations by school and administrative staff; the superintendent’s report; and board votes on several resignations, appointments and contracts.

June 3, 2022 - 11:10pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Batavia City Schools, Tri-M Honor Society.

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Top photo: Batavia High School students Lyana Burke and Addison Glynn perform during the Willow Tree End-of-Year Celebration Friday. The students were part of the district's Tri-M Music Honor Society, along with Sam Grillo, shown in the second photo from top. Other scenes show an audience of spectators and performers enjoying the afternoon filled with music at BHS on State Street, Batavia. Photos by Howard Owens.
 

May 27, 2022 - 11:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Batavia City Schools, notify.

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With yet another mass shooting, a canceled Regents test, extra law enforcement nearby and the swollen availability of counselors for students and staff, life has taken on a new meaning, Superintendent Jason Smith says.

“Every community in this country, big or small, is living in fear that this could happen to them, and if we continue on this path with no meaningful change, it will, inevitably, happen again,” Smith said during an interview with The Batavian. “Reactions from our students and staff have run the gamut from sad, frustrated, hopeless, and angry, to fear. I don’t believe we’ve become desensitized. I guarantee every family member held their child a little bit longer before sending them off to school today. I know I did.”

Within a day, Smith had written and issued a letter to his district in response to the latest shooting that left 19 people dead at a school in Texas. The city school district set up resources for students and staff to use in the aftermath of mixed emotions. School should be a place of “learning and enlightenment,” he said, and “not fear.”

“Sadly, this is not the first school shooting that has occurred in my years as an educator, but I can certainly only hope and pray it will be the last,” his letter stated. “In these times of grief, confusion, and fear, we want to be a source of comfort for our students and help guide them through the questions and emotions they are bound to have.”

The Batavian asked if the latest incident causes any response in terms of security and district protocols. He is confident in the current polices while also checking back to see if there are improvements to make, he said.

“Our top priority has always been and will be to keep our students and staff safe,” he said. “To that end, each school in our district regularly conducts lockdown drills as required by New York State. We maintain a strong partnership with the City of Batavia Police Department, have security aides in each building, and a district-wide school resource officer. We are constantly reviewing our safety procedures and will do so again to ensure the safest environment possible.”

Administrators met with counselors and each school principal, and while Smith was at John Kennedy Intermediate, he couldn’t say there was a visible shift in families’ reactions, though everyone is reacting in different ways.

“I saw parents dropping off students, and there wasn't any kind of physical reaction,” he said, adding that resources were given to staff in case they were needed. “We know we tried to give our staff information. But I’d say, it is a fairly temperate reaction. I had a couple of parents contact me by email and I'm going to respond to them in the next day or so.”

Genesee County Sheriff’s Office announced this week there would be extra patrols at county schools as a precautionary measure to ensure safety for students. That announcement also included the presence of a school resource officer at each district for another layer of protection. The Batavian asked Smith if he felt the role of a SRO was, in addition to being a community liaison and representative for the police department, capable of staving off a violent attack.

“That's the expectation, that if something were to happen, the SRO would play an active role in that situation,” he said. “I mean, they do other things … they're designed to be a community resource. But, you know, they’re also a police officer, and if stuff like that were to happen here, God forbid, the expectation would be that the SRO would respond.”

State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa issued a letter to school districts notifying them of a change to upcoming Regents exams. After a thorough review of the history exam, especially on the heels of recent violent events, the department decided to cancel the history Regents for this year, she said.

“As we look for ways to support our students and our fellow community members following this incomprehensible tragedy, the Department is committed to preparing our children to become active members of their communities who raise each other up and work together for the common good. We are enormously grateful to our educators as they help their students navigate and process the unthinkable,” Rosa stated. “In the wake of the heinous mass shooting in Buffalo, the Department is taking numerous steps to explore potential areas of support for students and schools across the state. Such actions include having content experts from the Department, in partnership with NYS educators, review all June 2022 Regents Exams, which have already been printed and packaged for shipment to schools. During that review, our experts determined that there is content on the new Regents Examination in United States History and Government that has the potential to compound student trauma caused by the recent violence in Buffalo.”

Even though the exam was drafted by NYS-certified social studies teachers and field-tested to confirm that the exam's content is educationally sound, the tragedy in Buffalo “has created an unexpected and unintended context for the planned assessment,” she said.

Missing this exam should not negatively affect graduation tracks for students, Smith said. The SED and Board of Regents will approve a waiver that officially excuses them from taking that particular test, he said.

“So it's not going to impact students,” Smith said.

The Batavian had also asked Smith if he felt that, as these tragedies pile up, do students and families become more numbed by the frequency. He doesn’t think so, but strives to encourage others to remain wide-eyed.

“We must fight the urge to accept these situations as a way of life, and we cannot let ourselves become desensitized,” he said. “Our children cannot afford it. We all must stand up and demand better.”

Below is a list of related resources at the city school district:

Jackson Primary Resources:

Sesame Street in Communities resources on Violence

John Kennedy Intermediate Resources:

Talking to Kids About Fear and Violence

Batavia Middle School Resources:

How to Discuss Violence in Schools With Children

After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal

Batavia High School Resources:

Talking to Teens About Violence

For Teens: Coping After Mass Violence

General Resources K-12:

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

Talking to Kids About School Safety

If you would like to speak directly to your child’s counselor or principal, please reach out to: 

Jackson Primary: 585-343-2480, ext 4000

John Kennedy Intermediate: 585-343-2480, ext 5000

Batavia Middle School: 585-343-2480, ext 3000

Batavia High School: 585-343-2480, ext 2000

“While we might not have all the answers, we promise to stand with our families and students and listen,” Smith said. “Please take care of each other in moments like these, and please reach out should you or your family need any assistance.”  

For the district's emergency response manual, click HERE

Photo: Batavia City Schools Superintendent Jason Smith. Submitted photo.

May 21, 2022 - 3:08pm

Batavia City Schools' recent budget and board vote put candidates Chezeray Rolle, John Marucci and Korinne Anderson in place for a seat on the Board of Education, however Marucci and Anderson had a tied vote count of 346. Anderson has conceded the three-year term to Marucci and she will take the two-year term, Superintendent Jason Smith said

Rolle, with a top vote of 368, with take his seat with a three-year term.

May 18, 2022 - 5:58pm
posted by Press Release in news, Batavia City Schools, Universal Pre-Kindergarten.


PRESS RELEASE:

BATAVIA, NY—The Batavia City School District is still accepting registration applications for universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) and kindergarten programs for the 2022-23 school year. 

BCSD will be offering four full-day UPK programs at Robert Morris and one half-day program at a community-based organization. 

As previously announced, the BCSD UPK program will be relocating to the Robert Morris building (80 Union St.) but will still be considered part of Jackson Primary.

The BCSD kindergarten program will continue to reside at the Jackson Primary building (411 S. Jackson St.).  

UPK students must be four years old on or before December 1, 2022. 

Kindergarten students must be five years old on or before December 1, 2022.

Pick up and return your registration packet to the BCSD Registration Office at the Robert Morris Community Schools Building (80 Union St., Vernon Ave. entrance). 

You can also download your packet here

Any questions can be directed to Deb Conroy in the Registration Office at [email protected] or by calling 585-343-2480 ext. 1010. 

Registration will remain open until all spots in each program have been filled. 

May 6, 2022 - 8:15am

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School budgets are like teeter-totters, Batavia City Schools Superintendent Jason Smith says.

The old kids’ playground toy — that seated a person on each end and they’d push off when their feet hit the ground — is a balancing act. Likewise, school officials try to have a budget with no one end greatly outweighing the other, he said.

“We’re not just pulling pieces out of thin air,” he said during Thursday’s budget hearing at Batavia High School. “(It’s about) having school programs … and what our taxpayers can afford.”

Teeter totter process …
After board budget sessions and a meeting on April 21, the board adopted a proposed 2022-23 budget of $54.8, which is an increase of $2.7 million from the current year’s budget.

A tax levy of just under $20 million will mean a 1 percent tax increase, which Smith believes is a good deal considering all of the program offerings at BCSD, he said.

During his first few months as superintendent, Smith has heard “over and over” how many opportunities there are, from fishing and skating clubs to academic, athletic and other extracurricular activities, he said.

The district’s focus is mainly on getting kids caught up from prior “learning losses” due to the pandemic’s shutdowns and remote and hybrid education methods, he said. As for the offerings, many of them are not mandated by the State Education Department, including art, laptops, musicals, athletics, smaller class sizes, Community Schools, and even school counselors, he said.

Can anyone imagine school without these amenities, he said.

“These are the pieces we don’t have to have,” he said. “Pieces that really make our school our own school.”

Potential tax rate …
A 1 percent property tax increase would add 19 cents to the current tax rate of $19.23 per $1,000 assessed property value. Comparing apples to apples, the property tax for a home assessed at $100,000 would mean an increase of $19 a year. However, if that same property has been reassessed to $125,000, the yearly property tax would increase by $504.50 ($100,000 X $19.23 versus $125,000 X $19.42).

CLARIFICATION: Because of how tax levies actually determine the tax rate, the tax rate, with increased assessments, could actually go down.  For an explanation, see this story.

The district assessing changing enrollment numbers and the teacher-to-student ratio, he said, to be “conscientious” about the needs and expenses of the district. He emphasized that the district isn’t responsible for setting certain items that can upset taxpayers.

‘We don’t control assessments, we don’t control the tax rate,” he said. “We control the tax levy.”

Taxing entities within the district include the schools, city, library and Genesee County. There is a proposed $100,000 Capital Outlay project included in the budget, which would be reimbursed with about 90 cents for every dollar spent, he said.

What about a ‘no’ …
Smith did not mention, or answer the question from The Batavian previously, about what would happen if district residents should vote this budget down. As Benedict said in response to The Batavian’s question, “I am optimistic that our BCSD proposed budget will pass.”

“However, State Education law provides every school district with options if their budget is rejected,” she said after the meeting. “I am hopeful that this budget passes because it best supports the students of the district.”

The New York State School Boards Association lays out the protocol in case the voters reject a school budget. The school board can prepare and adopt a contingency budget or go to the voters again on June 21, the statewide uniform budget revote day.

If the voters have twice rejected a board-proposed budget for a given fiscal year – either the same budget or a second version – the law prohibits submitting a budget or other expenditure propositions to the voters a third time. The school board must then adopt a contingency budget for the upcoming fiscal year by July 1, NYSSBA states.

Boards may pass multiple resolutions to approve contingency budget appropriations, it states, for specific purposes until the board adopts the overall contingency budget. A contingency budget funds only teachers’ salaries and those items the board determines are “ordinary contingent expenses,” the association states.

Ordinary contingent expenses have been defined under law to include legal obligations; expenditures authorized explicitly by statute; and other items necessary to maintain the educational program, preserve property and ensure the health and safety of the students and staff.

Expenditures that do not constitute "ordinary contingent expenses" include new equipment, public use of school buildings and grounds, except where there is no cost to the district, nonessential maintenance, capital expenditures (except in an emergency) and consultant services to review district operations and make recommendations necessary for the creation of the budget.

The school vote is from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 17 at one of two sites, depending on what side of the city voters reside. For more information, go to: bataviacsd.org

Top photo: 2022 File photo of Batavia City Schools Superintendent Jason Smith. Photo by Howard Owens.

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