Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

Batavia City Schools

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.

willowconcertjune2022-1.jpg

willowconcertjune2022-2.jpg

willowconcertjune2022-3.jpg

willowconcertjune2022-4.jpg

willowconcertjune2022-5.jpg

willowconcertjune2022-6.jpg

willowconcertjune2022-7.jpg

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.

37619dac-be82-4071-b46d-968500190fb8.png

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

jason.jpg

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.

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button

News Break