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Board of Education

March 1, 2019 - 7:22pm

Press release:

Are you interested in running for a seat on your local school board? The Genesee Valley School Boards Association (GVSBA) is holding an informational meeting for potential school board candidates at 7 p.m. on March 20.

The meeting will be held at the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, 80 Munson St. in Le Roy.

This meeting will help you understand the steps that you must take to be included in the election, and what you can expect as a board member.

The meeting will also include panel discussions, featuring Patrick Burk, executive director of the GVSBA; other panelists are a newer board of education member, a veteran member, as well as a school superintendent.

The program will be a comprehensive look at what is required to run for election, some basic education law and the roles and responsibilities of a board of education member.  

This is an excellent way for a community member to become involved with the educational program in their home town,” Burk said.

Local school boards are comprised of five, seven or nine members, depending on the school district, and terms are either three or five years. Commitment, time and skills as well as required training and programs will also be discussed.

Refreshments will be served. Registration is required; please contact Burk or Sandra Lee James at (585) 344-7537.

March 11, 2014 - 1:31pm
posted by Kathie Scott in Board of Education, batavia city schools, foundation.

   The Batavia City School District Board of Education is forming a committee to establish a foundation to support the District and is looking for interested community members to serve on it.  In particular, the Board would like to encourage participation by individuals with experience in the areas of finance, endowment, not-for-profit, fund-raising, banking, education, or public school law .
   If interested, please contact the Superintendent's office at 343-2480 ext 1000.

September 18, 2013 - 4:40pm

Highlights from the Batavia City School District (BCSD) Board of Education meeting on Sept. 17 include the following:

  • Tax rate adjusted ~ Decreases to lowest level in 10-plus years           
  • Reminder: Re-register for Basic STAR exemption by Dec. 31
  • District goals outlined
  • BOE president’s report
  • Superintendent elected to Board
  • Auditors review financial statements
  • BHS Homecoming in full swing

Tax rate adjusted ~ decreases to lowest level in 10-plus years

As a result of savings realized from the consolidation of schools, as well as some reevaluation and reassessment of properties, homeowners will see a 3.95--percent reduction in the school tax rate, or a $0.91 decrease per $1000 of assessed property value (to $22.14 per $1,000 of assessed property value). This is the lowest tax rate for the District in more than 10 years.

Reminder: Re-register for Basic STAR exemption by Dec. 31

Bill Smist of the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) explained the new legislation that requires all homeowners who receive the Basic STAR exemption to register with the Tax Department by Dec. 31 in order to receive the exemption in 2014 and beyond. The legislation is an attempt to eliminate any inappropriate exemptions.

The requirement to re-register does not affect those seniors who receive the Enhanced STAR exemption. The process for Enhanced STAR has not changed.

Homeowners currently enrolled in Basic STAR have likely received notification of the requirement. That letter of notification included instructions and information to complete the process, but residents are able to register even without the letter. Smist emphasized that registration is both easy and quick. It can be done online at www.tax.ny.gov by clicking on the tab, “Register for STAR.” It can also be done via phone: 518-457-2036, Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

To register, residents will need their STAR code (included in the notification letter or available through the “STAR code lookup” link on the DTF Web site or through their phone assistance) and the names and Social Security numbers of all owners of the property and their spouses. Registrants will also be asked to confirm that the property is the primary residence of one of its owners (married couples with multiple residences may only claim one STAR exemption), that the combined income of the owners and spouses who reside at the property does not exceed $500,000 annually, and that no resident owner received a residency-based tax benefit from another state.

More information is available on the Web site or by calling the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance: www.tax.ny.gov or 518-457-2036.

District goals

For the complete presentation by Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dailey, please click on this link (or copy into your browser): http://www.bataviacsd.org/news.cfm?story=1120&school=0 .

Included here is a brief overview:

In introducing the District Goals for 2013-2014, Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dailey noted the District’s commitment, as articulated in the Mission and Vision statements, to empowering students to achieve their maximum potential and developing students who are able to successfully meet life’s challenges. He also emphasized the priority for continually improving the number of graduates who are college and career ready.

The four goals include: (1) close learning gaps UPK-12; (2) implement the second year of District Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plans; (3) be fiscally sound; and (4) improve communication.

Steps to close learning gaps include such measures as implementing improvement plans aligned with the new Common Core Learning Standards; monitoring, reviewing, and adjusting strategies and programs; and providing and developing the resources and professional development needed for academic growth. The continuation of implementing APPR plans calls for utilizing the process as fully as possible for improving instruction, with the goal of having all teachers and principals rated as Effective/Highly Effective by Sept. 1, 2014.

In its aim to continue fiscal responsibility, the District will work toward creating a budget for 2014-2015 that is at or below the allowable tax cap while maintaining programs, managing the Capital Improvement Project, seeking revenue sources as well as more shared services, and advocating for our district at the local, regional and state level.

Communication goals include improving and increasing use of the Web site, Facebook, automated calling system, building and District newsletters, and local media; increasing meetings with community groups; adding Twitter accounts for each school building and video streaming the Board of Education meetings.

In addition, Superintendent Dailey touched on the Three-Year Vision which expands on the listed goals for improved academics and finances.

In closing, he noted that he believes the Batavia City School District will continue to lead, not follow, our region in success and achievements.

BOE president’s report

BOE President Patrick Burk outlined a number of goals to be considered for adoption by the Board. He and the superintendent will work together to bring a set of proposals to the Board for review, and he requested that all Board members forward any ideas they have to him.

Burk also noted that there has been high turnover of Board of Education members throughout the Genesee Valley region. The number of new board members in Western New York may be a challenge as Board members, administrators, and other concerned community residents continue to advocate, as a region, for such things as adequate funding for our students’ education.

In its continued efforts for championing local concerns, the Genesee Valley School Board Association is hosting a dinner meeting on Sept. 26 to bring together advocates of rural school districts. For more information about the dinner, contact Jim Thompson at 344-7947 or [email protected].

Superintendent elected to Board

Superintendent Dailey has been elected to the New York State Association of Small City School Districts, which will provide another platform which can be utilized to advocate for our district.

Auditors review financial statements

Audit Committee Chair Phil Ricci reported that the committee met with the auditors to review financial statements from the last fiscal year. Noting that the auditors had few and minor comments, he commended Business Administrator Scott Rozanski and District Treasurer Sally Sanford, particularly in the progress regarding Medicaid and Student Activities reports, where neither had any problematic findings.

BHS Homecoming in full swing

Student Ex-officio Board Member Samir Jain updated the Board members on high school events, including activities for Homecoming Week, Sept. 16-21. (See listing on the District Web site: www.bataviacsd.org/news.cfm?story=1113&school=1).

Superintendent Dailey noted that tickets are still available through the Athletics Office for the annual Athletic Hall of Fame dinner to be held at Terry Hills on Saturday, Sept. 21.

May 13, 2012 - 1:25pm

The Batavia City School District Board of Education will have its budget vote and member election on Tuesday, May 15. The candidates for election/reelection have shared their views in a series of interviews with The Batavian. Click the names of the candidates below to read the interviews.

There are five candidates running, including three incumbents -- Phil Ricci, Gary Stich and Gail Stevens -- and two newcomers -- Gretchen DiFante and Dennis Warner.

Warner declined our request for an interview.

Phil Ricci interview

Gary Stich interview

Gretchen DiFante interview

Gail Stevens interview

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. at Batavia's John Kennedy Elementary School, at 166 Vine St., for school district residents who live north of Route 5, and Batavia High School, at 260 State St., for those who live south of Route 5.

For more information on the budget, see the May 1 article, Batavia district pitches budget with a nearly 2-percent increase in the tax levy.

For some specifics on the background of each candidate, see their short biographies on the district Web site.

May 13, 2012 - 1:23pm

The first candidate interviewed was Phil Ricci, who has been on the school board since November. Ricci is a military veteran who currently works as a branch manager of two Bank of America locations, and he has years of experience in business/management, process improvement, financial management and consulting, as well as in working with youth.

Ricci is also a member of the Batavia City Youth Board and a budget ambassador for the school district's Audit Committee. He lives in Batavia with his wife and three children.

Could you talk about the experience you bring to the school board -- especially in terms of business and working with youth?

On the business side, I've worked for both the private and public sector. I've managed millions of dollars in funds, as well as teams ranging from five people to five hundred people. That said, school districts are a whole other beast of burden. They're not like how normal businesses work. The hard thing about experience is that, yeah, I have it, but in order to learn how a school district works, you have to learn how the state thinks and try to apply your business experience to that. Anyone who knows about New York State will tell you that if the state was a business, it would have been bankrupt 10 times over at this point. People on the school board learn real quickly that business experience doesn't go a whole long way with the way New York State does things.

As far as working with youth, when I was in Germany (in the military) I built a program from the ground up. It's called "Skies Unlimited," of which I then became the regional director of instruction for all of Europe. I got to work with every different type of population, and I learned the real message of advocacy. There are so many people out there who do not view youth programs as essential, and I challenge that every time I hear it. If you don't have solid youth programs, solid education, and solid support structures for youth, you end up having higher crime rates. You end up having a less educated workforce.

I think the biggest thing I've learned over the years -- working with kids in the military and being on the Youth Board here -- is that advocacy is huge. Even being on the school board, I can see that the way the state distributes money is inequitable. There are a lot of downstate districts that are not being affected to the same extent that our kids up here are being affected. And if you don't think that fighting for that is important because you don't like the way the system is, I'm not going to disagree with you that the system is broken; but those kids are suffering in the meanwhile. So I think the big thing for me with all the work I've done is learning how to be a solid advocate.

What made you want to run for the school board in the first place?

When Andy (Pedro) left, I was asked to come in and help out, so I threw my hat in the ring. There was a need, because (the school district is in) a really tough situation. The reason I'm asking to stay is that I know how bad it is, and I've seen what still needs to be done. We've got a lot of work to do, and it's far from being over. I know what it's going to take, and I just want the opportunity to help get us there. My big thing is and will continue to be to protect programs and to be equitable for all kids -- haves and have-nots. I'm not going to take away something from one youth that I wouldn't take away from another. But my main object is to not take anything away, and to do the things that need to be done to try to protect as many programs as we can.

I've been involved in the district for about seven years. I haven't always been on the board, but I've been involved. So I know what goes into (making a difference in the school district) and I know I can make a maximum impact.

Is there anything you would you like to change or see changed if you are reelected?

There's lots of things I'd like to continue to change. I think the biggest thing we need to work on right now in the district is our communication. I just think that we have to get better at expressing what we know and why we know it to everybody out there. That's an opportunity we've missed the ball on a lot. Some principles can't be explained simplistically, but it is our job to try and do that.

So one thing I would be pushing for from day one is more transparency, a clearer message, and just putting out there as much as we can.

How would you respond to people who express outrage that all other businesses and organizations are having to cut back and do more with less while the school district continues to propose tax increases? The implication is that the district thinks itself exempt from doing more with less.

I understand why they say things like that, and this goes back to the district not explaining things clearly enough. It's completely false. The district is doing a lot more with less. We're cutting programs. We're cutting positions. We've cut costs. We just closed a school. I think what's not being explained well enough is that these costs that keep pushing things up are not all controllable. Most of them out of our control -- they're coming down from the state. And at the state level, what they're doing is having their costs keep going up, and then they're pulling millions of dollars out of funding each year.

Imagine you have a job and a house budget. And every year, your costs are going to keep going up for whatever reason -- because of inflation or whatever it is. Then your employer comes in and says, "We're going to take eight-percent of your salary away each year for the next five years." So each year your costs are still going up, but you're losing an additional 8-percent of your income. If you're not making cuts, if you're not using your reserves, will you still be able to live in your house? Probably not.

My point is, of course we're cutting. Of course we're doing more with less. Because if we didn't, we wouldn't have a district. But we don't have control over all of our costs and expenditures. There is only so much you can cut, and there is only so much you have in reserve, before you start getting into these situations.

Just to be clear, before last year the board wasn't really raising the tax levy at all. It stayed pretty consistent. In the past couple of years, things have gotten really bad. You have a governor and a state legislature that has cut nearly 20 percent of your income over the past three years. So I would challenge anyone to show me how you can manage to not raise taxes in that situation -- as you're cutting positions and all this other stuff -- when 20 percent of your income goes away.

What are your thoughts on the proposed budget?

It's ugly -- I'm not in love with it, but because of the position we're in...I mean, I also didn't want to close Robert Morris School. My kids go there, and as a parent it was a hard thing to look my kids in the eyes and tell them I was closing their school. But it was a necessity. It was not a decision anybody wanted to make.

Do I think we could have lowered the taxes a little bit more? Yes, and I've already said that publicly. But overall, am I displeased with what we did to keep things going? No. It's not what I would want, and I don't think anyone on the school board wants it. I think everyone would love to deliver a zero-percent tax increase and still keep all the programs and all the schools open. But that's not the reality we live in right now.

What will happen if the budget gets voted down?

What happens is this: If it gets voted down two times, under the new tax cap law our ability to raise drops down to zero. So what that will mean, to put it plainly, is that all the programs we reinstated (with the consolidation) will go away -- for example, the ACE program, different music programs, and I'm sure more on top of that. Non-mandated programs will get looked at. These will get cut, because we're going to have to come up with an additional $500-$600. And plus we have other costs, too. So the people who vote "no" will get their zero-percent tax increase and kids will lose out on programs. It's that simple.

Can you comment on the house administrator position that is being created at Batavia Middle School?

This is another thing I don't think we're explaining well enough. The house administrator position is a re-purposed position. It's a new position as far as title goes, but it isn't a new hire kind of position.

What we did was take a model that is being used all across the country in larger schools. We're going to be adding a ton of kids to the middle school, so to make this really work we've re-purposed an assistant principal position, and we're making that person an in-house administrator; that means that this person is going to be in charge of the fifth and sixth grades. This person will be a direct point person for all parents, oversee all of the teachers, and stuff like that. Sandy Griffin is still in charge of the middle school, but because she is going to have over 800 kids in that school, we wanted to give her some additional support.

We understand that parents are nervous about the fifth-grade integration. We recognize that. And we wanted to make sure that next year and years into the future, that program is strong and the kids can go into the seventh grade with no problems. So all we did was utilize the resources we already had and the resources that we were going to have, and we're using them in a smarter way so that we can have a strong integration program with the fifth-graders coming into the middle school.

Do you have any closing comments?

I'll just say this: I understand the frustration that's out there. I'm not blind to it. Every time I make a decision, I'm doing it with four voices in my head. I hear a retired grandmother who is on a fixed income, for whom a 2-percent increase is not just a simple thing. I hear a working, single mom who is struggling to pay her bills -- or even unemployed. I hear the parents -- and the parent that I am -- about protecting programs for their kids so that they have a good future. And then I hear the kids' voices. How many kids have shown up crying at meetings because we're taking away things that change their lives?

These are the voices you hear (when you're on a school board). These aren't easy decisions. Any person who has the courage to go onto a comment board and tell people to vote something down, but not the courage to hear all of those voices and know what goes into making these decisions is someone who doesn't understand fully what it takes to do this job. I do, I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I wish to continue to do it. I've been called crazy for this, but I know I have the right demeanor and the right approach to this...and I care. And I think you need all that in order to be successful.

Photo courtesty of the Batavia City School District.

May 13, 2012 - 1:22pm

Gary Stich has been on the Batavia City School District Board of Education since 2005. He is the president and CEO of OXBO International Corporation in Byron. He and his wife, Beth, have two sons, one of whom is still a student in the Batavia schools.

What do you believe it takes to serve as a valuable member of the school board?

The situation for school board members is pretty complex, because we have to deal with a whole host of regulations -- coming mostly from New York State, and to a lesser extent from the federal government. And here locally, we have the complexities of dealing with various unions as well within the environment we operate in. So it's a pretty complex situation, and I think it takes a fair amount of effort and time to learn the lay of the land in order to be effective.

We have a good group of board members, and I think it's important to note that we work together collegially. We work well with the administration, but we ask tough questions and bring in our perspectives as individual board members from our professional and community backgrounds as well.

You've been on the school board for years. Why are you seeking reelection?

I'm seeking reelection because I don't think the job is finished. We're going through a very difficult period here, and there are a lot of difficult decisions to be made. And they're not over. The situation is not going to improve in the short term due to cut-backs from the state, unfunded mandates and so forth. (These things) make the situation for everyone in education -- including students, taxpayers and all the professionals in the district -- more difficult year by year.

Is there anything you would you like to change or see changed if you are reelected?

Sure. What I'd like to see changed is the attitude in Albany of jamming things down the local communities' throats in terms of unfunded mandates and regulations.

How would you respond to angry citizens who say that the school board is out of touch with the taxpayers?

I think we are trying to do more with less, and I'm not very happy either. I think you can consider me one of the angry taxpayers. But I think where the anger needs to be directed is to Albany. The problems in Albany are very deep. Everybody up here in Western New York and communities such as Batavia are paying the price for all the problems in Albany, and many of them are really issues from downstate. We have a state government that's dysfunctional, and we pay the price all the time.

What are your thoughts on the proposed budget?

Well, I think the school board and the administration have tried to present a budget that recognizes the need to control expenses tightly at the local level and not increase the burden more than we absolutely have to. I'd like to see the burden decrease for the local taxpayers, but in this environment, with cutbacks from Albany, it's difficult. But I think in the long run, we've got to continue to tighten our belts. It's an ongoing project, and the belt-tightening isn't over.

Can you comment on the house administrator position that is being created at Batavia Middle School?

Well, we're going to have a very full building at the middle school. We're adding another grade level there, and from our perspective it's important to provide support for the teachers and the students to make sure that the environment is very positive and conducive to learning. So I think it's the right move.

Photo courtesy of the Batavia City School District.

May 13, 2012 - 1:20pm

Gail Stevens has been on the Batavia City School District Board of Education for six years. If reelected, she will be serving her third term.

Stevens has a daughter, Michelle, who graduated from Batavia High School and a son, Eric, who will be graduating from BHS this year.

She works as a secretary to the Supervisor of Fleet Management at the New York State Police Troop A and is active in many community volunteer activities (see her short biography on the school district website for more details).

What experience do you have that makes you a valuable member of the school board?

I served on the Pavilion Board of Education before I moved to Batavia 14 years ago, and I have been active at all the parent/teacher groups in the Batavia school district -- first at Robert Morris, then at the middle school and right now at the high school. We now have a district-wide parent/teacher group meeting twice a year, and I was instrumental in developing that, communicating with all the groups, pulling names together and setting the agenda.

I'm also on the Genesee Valley School Boards Institute's board -- they're the ones who develop training programs for different school districts in this area. In addition to that I'm a second vice president for the Genesee Valley School Boards Association, and then I'm currently on the legislative committee for Genesee Valley Educational Partnership Board (GVEP) -- formerly BOCES.

Serving on the GVEP board has been a very enriching and wonderful experience, because it takes you one step above the local school district. BOCES oversees 22 component schools, including Batavia. It really helps you to see the big picture. I've had wonderful opportunities to go to Washington and network with other school districts across New York State.

Also, over the past six years I've attended many school board training sessions, be they conventions, conferences or just all-day workshops. The school district is a whole different entity than what people see it as. It has its own laws -- laws that pertain to education and the State Education Department -- and different guidelines that have to be followed, and it's completely different in how it runs, how it can be run, and what you can and cannot do. So it's been a gradual process, and it's been a fun journey along the way learning and developing myself in that way. That's why I do this. I don't want to sit back and complain or make statements that aren't fact-based. I'm not that kind of person. If anyone comes to me and asks me a question, if I don't know the answer, I'll get it for them. And I'll make sure my answer is not based on hearsay or emotions. That's not my style. I'm a very fact-based person.

Why are you seeking reelection?

I've been part of the consolidation process for a long time, and contrary to what people think, this is not something that has just been thought about or mulled over during the past year. I remember us talking about it years ago, because -- also contrary to what people think -- we (the school district) do plan for the future.

Another thing I want to point out is that people say we don't communicate enough. But the more information you put out there, sometimes I think the more people get confused. Also, some of the information is evolving over time, like with anything else. It's kind of like when you have a job interview; you don't go out and tell the world that you got the job, because anything could happen.

We've had some really tough times and really tough decisions (to make) with this consolidation process -- and contrary to the popular opinion that the board always agrees, we don't always agree. So because of the consolidation process, which I was present for in the starting phases, I would like stay. I want to continue to help with the transition to consolidation.

Of the things you have seen during your tenure as a board member, what do you think the board has been doing well (that you would like to see continue), and what do you think needs to change?

We are very good at communicating with each other when we're at the table working. There's no screaming, no yelling...I've heard of other districts where board members walk out of meetings, and to me that's just a huge waste of time. (At Batavia school board meetings) everyone sits, everyone listens, everyone speaks their peace, and if they don't agree they will say, "I don't agree, but I will support this for the sake of the district," or "for the sake of the students," or "for the sake of the taxpayers," or what have you. Everyone thinks we're all "yes" people, but we really aren't all "yes" people. It's a very diverse section of people, and I think that's what makes it so good. We don't all have the same professional background, some of us have younger kids, some of us have older kids, etc. I think it's a good cross section of the community.

At this point, I don't believe anyone on the board has a personal agenda. I know I never have, and I still don't. I've seen other districts go through some very controversial times because of one or two board members. You can't be out in the community condemning your colleagues or other board members. If you're going to do that, you shouldn't be on the board.

As for the second part of your question, there is going to be a lot of change. The Batavia school district, as we know it now, is going to look totally different in the fall. Right now, I think that's enough change. I think that if you bite off more than you can chew and make too many changes at once, that upsets the equilibrium of the district. You have to take baby steps. You have to stop, see what you're doing, see where the problems are, and go forward. At this point, I think the biggest change will be the consolidation and any bumps that come out of that. That's enough for the district to handle at this point.

What are your thoughts on the proposed budget?

Obviously, I support it. If I didn't, I would not have voted in favor of it. Like I said before, sitting on the BOCES board, I obtain a lot of knowledge of what's going on in other districts. I think Batavia was very proactive and out ahead of everyone else, but the flip side of that was that we took a lot of heat from everybody. I had someone sit next to me at a meeting when I talked about the financial situation and the consolidation, and that person asked me, "Why are the districts around us not doing any of this?" Since we were upfront and making people aware of the consolidation, and the districts surrounding us -- not neighboring districts in this area, but other districts in New York State -- hadn't really come out publicly about their financial situations, we came across as acting too fast. But that's how it is. You've got to be proactive. Some districts don't have buildings to close, and they're in serious trouble.

Some people are opposed to the budget because they feel that school district employees are demanding excessive pay and benefits. How controllable are these things at the local level?

They're not. And it's not just the schoolteachers, it's any unionized group -- be it state workers, county workers, etc. If you have a contract, that's a binding agreement. Some people have said, "Make them take a pay freeze." Well, we can't. We would then have to spend even more taxpayer dollars fighting a lawsuit.

And you've got to work with them. That's one thing I can say about our administrators -- they work very well with the staff. We have a committee looking into cheaper medical insurance costs, and there are administrators and union people on that committee. So we're working on it. And that's one of the reasons I work on the legislative committee for BOCES. When we go to Albany every year, we draft a position paper, take it with us, sit down with the senators and the assemblymen, and we talk about (the various laws that pertain to this issue). There's a whole slew of laws in New York State that we would love to see changed, but New York State is a huge ship. You can't turn it suddenly.

So the salaries/benefits that people object to will remain in place even if the budget doesn't pass?

Absolutely. The only things that will be taken out are programs for the students. When you vote down the budget, the only people you're really hurting are the students. If you have an ax to ground with the teacher's association or the union, voting "no" isn't going to help. It's going to be nothing other than self-serving -- so that you can say "I'm happy because I voted 'no.' "

What these people should do is come to board meetings, listen, and educate themselves. (One of these people should) start as a budget ambassador -- that's how I started out. I was budget ambassador two or three years in a row before I half understood what was going on. My biggest pet peeve in life is complaining about something without being willing to do something to change it. If you're not going to work to change it, then don't complain.

What was the rationale behind the in-house administrator position at Batavia Middle School?

We've listened to the parents and their concerns. One of the biggest concerns was the fifth grade moving to the middle school. When all was said and done, parents' biggest concern was with the lack of supervision, the program there, what will be going on...there are going to be a lot of changes. We want the transition to the middle school to be a positive thing for the students, for the parents, and for the staff. As a parent myself, I would have been thrilled if my kids could have gone to the middle school for fifth grade and had the enrichment opportunities these kids will be getting, the exposure to technology, and everything that goes along with it. We want to make sure we don't short ourselves with personnel in that area, because we want this to succeed.

We don't want to set up any of our buildings for failure at all. That's one thing I have to say again about the administration: Contrary to what people think, they are very intelligent people, and a lot of the decisions they make are really well thought out.

Also, everyone keeps saying that we haven't cut administrators. The fact is, we have cut one administrator per year for the last four years. It's right on paper, and I've mapped it out for many people.

Do you have any closing comments?

I just encourage people to go out and vote. Vote however you want to vote, but please vote. It's sad to see the apathy that goes on sometimes. We typically don't see public participation as important until something bad happens, and then everybody's there. Well, we'd like to have everybody there at every meeting, listening, learning, obtaining information and sharing it with others.

Photo courtesy of the Batavia City School District.

May 13, 2012 - 1:19pm

Gretchen DiFante, a newcomer to the school board, has four children who are currently in the Batavia City School District and a daughter -- Lauren, age 19 -- in the Air Force. Her son John, 17, and daughter Nina, 15, both go to Batavia High School. Her two younger daughters -- Elena, 10, and Eva, 7 -- go to John Kennedy Elementary School.

Her children have attended all schools in the district except for the middle school (her three oldest children attended Robert Morris, and one of them switched to that school from Jackson Elementary School; all three attended St. Joseph School for grades six through eight); her daughter Elena will be attending the middle school next year.

DiFante is currently the executive director of a Penfield-based nonprofit called Agape Counseling Associates, which just opened up an office in Batavia. Before that, she was the executive vice president of P.W. Minor shoe company and the director of efficient customer support for Rich Products.

She has won awards for her work in marketing and communications. During Operation Desert Storm, she was part of an award-winning public affairs unit for the Air Force Reserves' 914th Tactical Airlift Group in Niagara Falls. Her wide range of experience includes customer relations, communication and conflict/stress management.

What experience do you have that makes you a valuable member of the school board, and how will your degree in Communications help?

My concentration was in Public Relations, but Communications is a pretty open field. It has given me the opportunity to work in advertising, marketing and public relations -- being a general degree, it has opened up a lot of doors and allowed me to use a lot of different skills. My experience with customer service allows me to be more savvy at looking at budgets and managing departments, processes and flows, and how they come together.

As far as the school board goes, I think that when your community has a need, and there is a piece of it that you believe is missing -- something that you can supplement with your particular set of skills -- then that's an opportunity for you to step forward. And I believe that the particular skill set that encourages open communication, knows how to communicate during a crisis, and knows how to manage change is absent on the board right now.

The board and administration do recognize (that they struggle with communication), and I appreciate that. I work with clients who work in places where people are in a crisis mode at work; it's normal for communication to shut down when you're in conflict, because you don't know what to say and you're trying to protect yourself. Not everybody needs to be crafting that communication. Sometimes if you speak without having the right knowledge or experience, it can bite you back. When GCC was putting together a leadership certificate program for our public employees and they asked if I'd do the PR part of it -- how to train people on what to say to the media and so forth -- I found that sometimes the biggest part of the job is getting people to know when not to say things to the media, because sometimes people just don't think. It takes practice, skill, and a certain type of knowledge.

I believe that my background in change management and crisis communication goes into the places that need to be fixed and that nobody really wants to take over. When I was working at Rich Products, they made me an interim department head because they were looking for a new vice president. That seems to be how things happen for me, and I enjoy that. I enjoy the challenge of going into places where there is a lot of change, people are stressed, and the customer communication is failing because people forget about how to do that during times of change and stress. I think my particular background and experience is only going to enhance what is needed right now.

People say business experience doesn't go a long way on school boards because school districts and New York State are so different from businesses in how they operate. How do you plan to translate your business experience into this completely different environment?

I have a very unusual business background. I got into working with different organizations when I was at Rich Products, because I was an "executive on loan." Mr. Rich would basically lend me out. He lent me out to one of the public schools, the Erie County Clerk's Office, the Saddle & Bridle Club...just whenever people needed help doing a strategic plan, a marketing plan, or communication (both within the company and between the company and the public).

I don't think translating my business experience to a school board is going to be a problem. Right now I'm the executive director of a small nonprofit, and that's a whole different ball game from being an executive vice president at P.W. Minor or running a $2 billion department at Rich Products. So I'm very flexible, and I have experience that's varied. I love learning, and I love trying to figure out what (a given) group needs at a particular place and time, and how I can help meet that need. Right now, the school board needs vision, strategy, structure, communication, and public relations, and I've brought those skills to every job I've had. Don't get me wrong, it's a big learning curve (being on the school board). But believe me, in the military you deal with a lot of federal mandates. Right now I'm running a nonprofit that has to do with medical work, and I deal with HIPAA laws and insurance companies. I'm used to complications.

What made you want to run for the school board in the first place?

(What made me want to run was) looking around and seeing the trust break down between the schools, teachers, parents and the community. It was painful to go to those public forums and to see all the (bad communication) on the Internet, at Tops, while jogging at the track...it's the most critical dilemma facing Batavia right now. I do strategic planning with the city, and to start that off I interviewed council members one-on-one. Even their constituents want to talk about what's going on with the schools. I looked at that and at what's missing (on the school board and in the district), and I knew I had the skills to fill in those missing links. And that's what being a good citizen is about.

Part of your platform is the fostering of creative community partnerships. Could you talk a bit more about that? What exactly do you have in mind?

I'm in a unique place, because I work with leaders in our community at a strategic level. I also do that with Genesee Community College, and they are a recipient of the "products" that we graduate from our schools. There definitely has to be a lot of collaboration between the SUNY schools and our high schools and middle schools. A lot of the problems GCC sees start way before high school or middle school. I've also been on the steering committee that formed Leadership Genesee. So my exposure to leadership is very high. And everybody complains about the same thing. They'll say, "If only this group of people or this organization would partner with us..." They are struggling to figure out the answer to their problems themselves, but I know there are other groups that are trying to figure out the same thing. So why can't we all just get together? Everyone generally agrees that we all need to come together, but who is taking the lead?

The school board is going to keep losing money. I don't think there's a plethora of surplus money that's going to come down from New York State or the federal government. We have to be realistic and plan for the future. We have to ask how, for example, we can supplement our ACE program with programs that GCC could offer, that Leadership Genesee could offer, etc. I would love to see our district have a mentorship program. We have a lot of dynamic, intelligent people in this community, and yet we don't have active mentorship programs that I'm aware of. On my website, I mentioned a grant for creativity training that GCC got, which is for students going into middle school. We could work with them and seek out grants that will supplement needs in the schools instead of just stumbling upon them. So I'm talking about a much different level of collaboration. I think there is so much opportunity and that we need to start sitting down and getting to know each other, finding out what's available, and figuring out how to create opportunities for our students. We cannot allow their education to suffer just because we're not getting what we need in order to fund the school district.

What are your thoughts on the proposed budget?

I do believe the budget needs to pass, because we have a lot of key programs that we had lost reinstated. If the budget doesn't pass and the contingency budget is adopted, the ACE program and the music programs that have been reinstated will go away. That's where the $300,000 savings will come from. I think it's important that the voters understand that.

I believe the proposed budget meets the needs of the consolidation. Obviously there are some things that are being taken away. And the consolidation is hard for me -- it's hard for everybody. My three oldest kids were students at Robert Morris Elementary School, and I have very fond memories. We're emotional about our schools. We have ties to them, but we have to let those go. We need to move toward whatever's next.

The problem is that we don't have "whatever's next" defined. We've got to do a better job of defining what the future looks like for us. I don't want to sit around and lament what we've lost, I want us to make sure we have the best district in the state of New York. I want people to benchmark it because we are doing such a great job providing this great, enriched, well-rounded education for our students and because they're going places...To me it's not so important what the school district looks like. What's important are the results.

Getting back to the budget, I think it's also important for people to understand that we are depleting our fund balance. At a couple of the public forums I attended, people said: "You know, you've got $1 million, why don't you just wait another year and let us figure this thing out?" But what people need to understand is that it's not "money-out, money-in," it's just money-out. So they've got to have a strategy now for what they're going to do when there is no more fund balance. I would hate to see us take a step back and not pass the budget. I would hate to see us automatically lose another $300,000 just because we don't pass our budget. That's one of the alternatives, and I don't want to take that chance.

You've talked about the possibility of having a third-party mediator at the district's public forums. Could you talk a bit more about that?

Well, first of all, I have certification in conflict mediation from the Litigation Center of Rochester, which I got when I started working in consulting. The reality is that healthy organizations allow themselves to face conflict using measures and smart processes to get through the conflicts and come out on the better end. People disagree because they have different ways of looking at the same situation. When you are trying to bring two sides of a conflict together, you never use anyone who represents either party to be the mediator. What I have seen at the public forums for the school district is that mediators who represented the board of education got defensive, which is natural. It's good to have an objective third party so that you can listen. The board needs to be listening, not getting involved in the conversation. And that was not what happened in those forums.

Somebody who understands communication and its dynamics needs to help. And believe me, I know 100 percent that I could find someone who would facilitate these forums for us and would not charge us. There are people who want to serve. We just need to recognize what we need, and then go out and ask.

Do you have any closing comments?

I want us to be proud of Batavia. I want us to be proud to send our kids to school here and of the opportunities available. Batavia is the 13th city I have lived in, and it's the city in which I've chosen to raise my family. We're here for the long haul, and we want to see it become the best school district in the state. Whatever it looks like, that's my vision. We can do this -- we have a lot of resources, a lot of potential. I'm amazed at the talent we have in our area. We just need to get talking to each other, to have a vision that people can rally around and move forward.

For more information on DiFante and her background and platform, visit difante4schoolboard.com.

Photo courtesy of David DiFante.

October 4, 2011 - 11:14pm
posted by Geoff Redick in Board of Education, jackson elementary, City Schools.

More than 60 parents gathered at Jackson Elementary School on Tuesday evening for the final public forum on the pending city school district building consolidation.

Most of the acid-tongued sentiments heard at the first building consolidation forum last month were absent this time, although several parents did bring up some already-heard concerns, such as the financial worth and viability of actually selling the Washington Avenue administration building. Those concerns were readdressed without issue.

The only true "new" idea proposed was closing the Batavia Middle School. One parent proposed shuffling the district's 6th-, 7th- and 8th-graders off into the elementary and high schools, as a way to save neighborhood schools. Administrators expressed that they had considered the idea before, but eliminated it due to the size of the middle school and the amount of learning technology it currently houses for those students.

Now, the Batavia City School Board has six months to choose from a number of different plans for building consolidation. Those plans might do anything from keeping all three elementary schools open in some capacity, to shutting one down and running two larger neighborhood schools, or closing two schools altogether and housing all elementary students in an expanded John Kennedy School. Click here for coverage from WBTA News outlining all of the proposed plans.

The school board will mull over the options with help from the Budget Ambassadors committee. A final decision on the building consolidation is due in March.

October 4, 2011 - 1:00pm
posted by Geoff Redick in Board of Education, City Schools, Andy Pedro.

NOTE: This letter was read aloud by Superintendent Margaret Puzio at the Monday night meeting of the Batavia City School District Board of Education.

Margaret Puzio - Superintendent of Schools, Batavia City School District

Gail Stevens - President Board of Education, Batavia City School District

Subject: Letter of Resignation

Margaret - Gail,

I am sorry to inform you that I am writing this letter to inform you that I am resigning my position on the Batavia City School District Board of Education effective November 1, 2011. Last school year I made it known to both of you and the other BOE members that I would not seek re-election when my term expires on June 30, 2012. Since then things have changed considerably with my job and I can no longer give the time that is necessary to be an effective Board Member. As you are well aware that due to the added travel that is associated with my job, I have only made half the BOE Meetings since the new school year started and have made none of the consolidation public meetings. This is not fair to the employees of the district, other members or to the community that voted me on to the Board.

This is by the far the most challenging year this district has seen in a long, long time. Very difficult decisions need to the be made and the District needs Board Members that can give the time necessary to process the information and act on it. I no longer have that time and I can't in good (conscience) do a job that I can't give 100% to. This year more than any other is just too important!

The 5-plus years on the Board I have served have been a tremendous experience for me. The district is blessed to have an excellent leader in Margaret, top notch Administrators, teachers, support staff and a highly dedicated Board of Education. I wish you all continued success and want you to know I will always be an advocate for the Batavia City School District!

Good luck as you continue to move forward!


Andrew G. Pedro

October 4, 2011 - 1:34am


One year ago, then-Board of Education President Andy Pedro proposed a resolution creating a review committee for all city school field trips, with the hope of instating some sort of moratorium or strict criteria for all trips. Pedro was looking ahead to the dark days under a possible property tax cap, and thinking creatively on how to save money with cuts to non-mandated programs.

The resolution passed, and the committee was formed.

That committee has not met one time since. But its vision was realized Monday night, as the board voted 5-2 to deny the Batavia High School hockey team its annual trip to play in an out-of-area tournament.

“It’s got nothing to do with the hockey program, nothing personal against hockey,” Pedro said. “My opinion was no field trips, period.”

But what will make the ruling frustrating for players, parents and coaches is that the trip would not have cost the district a dime. All of the money was raised by the players and the Hockey Boosters club, to completely fund the cost of the tournament.

“If these organizations are raising this kind of money…our district is in a tough financial situation right now, and it’d be nice if that money could help alleviate the pain the district is feeling,” Pedro said.

In other words: have the sports teams at least partially pay for themselves.

Senior Board Member Patrick Burk echoed that sentiment.

“We’ve been given a directive to cut all of our interscholastic athletics, as well as clubs and activities for students, by a large amount,” Burk said. “When you’re looking at sports…in order for (them) to even be in the district next year, they may have to raise this amount of money just to save their program.”

Burk noted that imposing “pay-to-play” restrictions on high school athletes is illegal in New York. But, it’s not illegal to have a sports boosters' club raise the money to fund a program. Burk pointed to the Elba Central School District, which cut football out of its budget in the middle of the last decade. A football boosters club was able to adequately fundraise and save the program that year.

“At some point, somebody’s got to be the ‘bad guy,’” Burk told his colleagues, or all sports and other extracurriculars could suddenly disappear simply because they’re not mandated.

The two board members voting to approve the hockey team trip were Amy Barone and Steve Mountain. Mountain saw no reason to deny the kids a trip they’d worked toward throughout the year.

“To me, it’s giving the kids the opportunity to do what they want to do,” he said. “I think that they deserve the opportunity to go.” But he also expressed that he never hears much feedback from area parents, which may have skewed his decision.

Pedro says he does hear a lot of feedback from parents, who say enough is enough when it comes to fundraising.

“I had two kids who played sports all through high school, and the fundraising just gets out of control,” Pedro said. “I think (the hockey team) can accomplish what they need to accomplish by staying in our area, playing competitive teams.”

PHOTOS: inset top, Patrick Burk; inset bottom, Amy Barone, left, and Steve Mountain.

June 8, 2011 - 6:42am
posted by WBTA News in music, Board of Education.

Apparently, there are some strings attached to the retirement of Cindy Baldwin from Batavia City Schools.

Cello and violin strings, specifically.

A 38-year veteran of the Batavia music program, Baldwin is finally calling it quits. And she’s taking her popular and highly successful Suzuki Strings program with her. The program is based on the Suzuki method of teaching, which puts the onus on the parent to push their child to learn to play an instrument.

Baldwin is a Suzuki member teacher. But the board of education is proposing to replace her, her method, and her high level of training on string instruments, with a trio of vocal teachers. They will attempt to learn the basics of string instruments this summer, so as to teach them to students next school year.

“We are planning on having elementary strings continue,” explained John Kennedy Principal Paul Kesler. “In order to do that, there will no longer be individual lessons for students. It will be group sizes of two to three. Students will have the opportunity to begin strings at third grade.” (Currently, students as young as kindergarten can begin the strings training.)

Parents who have seen their young children excel in music are shocked, and angry.

“I don’t see how you possibly can maintain the strings program, by having other people pick up the slack,” said Terry Kolb, who has at least two grandchildren in the district. “You’re never going to replace Cindy Baldwin.”

Kolb’s 8-year-old granddaughter, Kennedy Kolb, also spoke to the board. She is in second grade.

“I just want to say: cello is the world to me,” Kennedy said. “This is my life. And you’re taking it all away.”

Mother Cheri Kolb said she’d written a letter to the board and Superintendent Margaret Puzio, with no response (Kolb forwarded the letter to The Batavian on Monday).

“The Batavia City School District, at every opportunity, publicly sings the praises of the enrichment programs they offer,” she said. “And quietly behind the scenes, every enrichment program is being whittled away, bit by bit.”

District Business Manager Scott Rozanski confirmed to WBTA News that the cuts will not change now, since they are the same cuts that would be included in a contingency budget. The only difference between the two remaining options is that the proposed budget would allow citizens to use district facilities free of penalty. Under a contingency budget, any citizen use of district facilities that constituted a cost would have to be charged for.

The contingency budget would be adopted, if the proposed budget is rejected again by voters on June 21.

At the close of the public hearing, Board President Andrew Pedro made the point that this discussion over the music program wouldn’t even be happening if the first budget had been approved.

“We had something like 960 people vote on the first budget,” Pedro said. “We have 2,500 kids in our district – if every parent showed up and voted yes, we wouldn’t be in this situation.

“We have kids in this district, too, so I hear what you’re saying. But it’s up to the parents to get out and vote.”

Board President Andrew Pedro watches the budget presentation

Photos by Geoff Redick of WBTA.

May 25, 2011 - 12:48am
posted by WBTA News in election, Board of Education, Patrick Burk, NY-26.

Patrick BurkBatavia City School Board Member Patrick Burk was in a Catch-22 Tuesday evening.

Burk is a Genesee County elections official, and also the president of Batavia City Democrats. So naturally he was at the polling place at 9 p.m., when police walked in and attempted to confiscate the voting machines. It seems Jane Corwin’s campaign had obtained a court order to block any immediate counting of the votes.

“Corwin ‘allegedly’ had a court impound the machines, but I heard it was overturned,” says Burk.

While talking with police, Burk received a call on his cell phone from fellow board member Steve Hyde, which he ignored.

Then Hyde called again. Burk picked up – and suddenly found himself at the center of a debate over the Batavia City School District budget. Fellow board members had split 3-to-3, and Burk’s seventh vote would decide between a contingency budget, and a budget proposal improvised by Hyde.

“Give me about 35 minutes,” Burk said.

Forty minutes later, Burk walked into the board of education meeting on Washington Avenue, visibly out of breath.

Shortly after calling the meeting back into session, Board President Andy Pedro asked if there was any further discussion on the proposal to adopt a contingency plan.

“Well,” Burk deadpanned, “I’d like to see the options first,” receiving a chorus of laughs from the remaining board members.

A bit later in the meeting, Superintendent Margaret Puzio remarked tongue-in-cheek that board members “had all night,” to which Burk cheekily replied: “I’ve been awake since 4:30 a.m., Margaret – make me feel better.” More laughs.

Asked later in the evening about his frantic night, Burk simply stated: “Well, it was the right thing to do.”

(Photo courtesy Batavia City School District)

May 25, 2011 - 12:38am
posted by WBTA News in Board of Education, School Budgets.

It was the longest board of education meeting Pamela Wentworth could remember.

“I’ve never seen a meeting this long,” the president of Batavia Teachers’ Association whispered as the meeting closed at about 10 p.m.

But at the close of three hours of work, board members had managed to cut, scrimp and save their way down to just a 4.13-percent proposed property tax increase. That figure represents roughly $275,000 less tax revenue than the district would have received under the first-draft budget, which included a 5.75-percent tax increase. Voters shot that budget down last week.

“I just think it’s our obligation to put another budget in front of the public,” said Board President Andrew Pedro. Pedro entered one of three no votes to the contingency budget, which would have included a 5.13-percent tax increase.

“To me…the public sent a message (in the budget vote) that was ‘no,’” Pedro said. “Now if they shoot it down again, our hands are tied,” and the contingency budget must be adopted.

It’s important to note that a contingency budget would include a 5.13-percent property tax increase – more than what the district will now propose to voters. (See note at bottom) A contingency budget also includes a clause that the community may not use district facilities for free at a cost to the district. The cost must either be recouped through a fee, or the facilities must be shuttered to the public.

If board members had voted tonight to adopt the contingency budget, the public would not have had the chance to vote.

There were originally three budget options on the table for the board this evening. Choice Number One was to re-submit the already failed budget to voters. Choice Number Two was to submit a new budget to voters with just a 3-percent property tax increase, by including $170,000 in savings from four teacher retirements and wrapping in nearly $300,000 in reserves. And Choice Number Three was the contingency budget.

Superintendent Margaret Puzio explained that retirement savings weren’t realized in the first budget submitted to voters, because paperwork hadn’t yet been finished. But those savings are now ineligible to be wrapped into a contingency budget to drive taxes down.

That’s when Steve Hyde piped up with what he termed “the hybrid”: include all the cost savings in the contingency budget, wrap-in the retirement savings from Choice Number Two, and draw nothing from the district reserves.

“It still protects reserves for rainy days, because next year could be really terrible and tough,” Hyde pointed out, referring to a possible state property tax cap. “And a contingency budget is going to put a lot of hardships on community groups that rely on our facilities.”

Hyde’s plan would have to be put to a vote on June 21.

But Board Member Steve Mountain did not agree with either Andy Pedro or Steve Hyde.

“The vote was not a ‘loud and clear no,’” Mountain said. “Less than 10-percent of voters, voted” in the budget vote last week.

Mountain elected to go with the contingency budget, and instead place the $170,000 retirement savings in that rainy-day reserve fund for next year, as even more back-up.

“The taxpayer wouldn’t realize it (the benefit) until next year,” Mountain said. “If we put out a 3-percent budget this year, are we going to put out a 10-percent budget next year? We want to make sure we’re being consistent.”

The contingency budget was eventually put to a vote, and split 3-3 because Board Member Patrick Burk was away on other business. Burk was summoned, and voted the contingency budget down.

“I like Steve’s ‘hybrid’ where we are maintaining some of the reserves,” Burk said. “If the re-vote does pass, we are not jeopardizing the use of facilities by our community, which supports us in much larger areas.”

A vote on the “hybrid budget” passed 5-2. The unofficial final tally for that budget is $39,366,045, with a 4.13-percent property tax increase. The budget will go to voters on June 21, with a public hearing to be held at least one week in advance.

NOTE: A new contingency budget, if adopted, would contain a different property tax figure than the first-version contingency plan. School officials explained to WBTA News that each budget presented to voters has a subsequent related contingency budget. The new proposal (the hybrid) already takes out the equipment expenses that are legally required to be removed for contingency budgets. Therefore the new (hybrid) budget proposal and subsequent contingency budget may be the same number.

Photos by Howard Owens

April 13, 2010 - 1:03pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Board of Education.

The Batavia School Board met in the John Kennedy Elementary School cafeteria last night. Left to right: school board members Gary Stich and Gail Stevens, and BHS senior Sahil Jain, student ex-officio.

The superintendent of the Batavia City School District says a key goal of the proposed budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year is to make cuts as need be "without hurting any student programs."

Yet it calls for fewer coaches and their support staff, and cutting teaching positions in each core subject as well as three aides. Decreased enrollment in secondary schools is partly to blame, according to Superintendent Margaret Puzio. There will be no transportation provided for summer school either.

The good news is that BOCES will be getting a 15-percent increase in funding.

Overall, Puzio said the school district projects a "flat budget" for the upcoming fiscal year, meaning minimal or no increase. Certain cuts to be made in order to make room for investments in other areas, according to the trustees.

District Business Manager Scott Rozanski attributes the stable budget to conservative financial practices in recent years, the availability of budget surpluses and the district's decision to pay for some expenses -- for example, construction work on the Administration Building's roof -- with reserves. These factors balance out with a slight decrease in state aid to keep the overall budget where it is now.

Here are some highlights of the budget meeting:

  • Almost all extracurricular and athletic activities that are now available will also be available next year. However, there may be fewer assistant coaches and support staff.
  • Some changes are going to be made in the elementary summer school programs. Transportation will not be provided for kids attending summer school; they will need to either walk or be driven by their parents. This year, summer school will focus exclusively on improving the reading skills of at-risk students and will consist of small classes. There will be six teachers in each school -- Jackson, John Kennedy and Robert Morris -- and a lot of small-group interaction.
  • Because of a significant decrease in enrollment projected at the secondary level, there will be staff cuts in each core subject. Puzio said that there are only about 160 students in the upcoming sixth grade class. The cuts will only effect teachers with the lowest seniority, and they will not lose their jobs if there are retiring teachers in their subject areas.
  • Three teacher aide positions will be cut, one from each elementary school.
  • There will be a 15-percent increase in the funding of BOCES services, including special, alternative and occupational education, and technology. Rozanski said that the district cut some technology expenses last year; this year, it will be able to "put new purchases back in and move forward with the wireless trend."

The budget's tax-rate information depends on factors that remain to be seen, and will therefore not be available until the fall.

The board unanimously approved the 2010-2011 budget, as well the election of BOCES Board Members. It also approved keeping the student ex-officio stipend so that the board will always have someone to keep them informed on what goes on in the schools.

The public can vote on the school board's budget from noon until 9 p.m. May 18 at one of three locations:

  • Jackson Elementary School, 411 South Jackson St.
  • Robert Morris Elementary School, 80 Union St.
  • Batavia Middle School, 96 Ross St.

Voters must live in the Batavia City School District and be registered to vote.

For more information, please contact the board office at 343-2480. 


As the meeting came to a conclusion, Puzio distributed a letter from Genesee Valley BOCES Superintendent Michael Glover regarding Governor Patterson's school-aid cuts. According to Glover, these cuts affect less wealthy Upstate districts significantly while unfairly privileging wealthier Downstate districts (he cited Nassau County, Long Island, as an example). For more information on this, contact Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, at 315-749-3637, or e-mail <[email protected]>.

From left, board members Steven Hyde and Pat Burk, and Bobbi Norton, assistant to the superintendent.

April 5, 2010 - 8:09pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, schools, Board of Education.
Event Date and Time: 
April 26, 2010 - 8:00pm to 9:00pm

The Batavia Board of Education will hold a regular meeting in the Board Office Conference Room, 39 Washington Ave., beginning at 8 p.m., Monday, April 26. All are welcome to attend.

At 7 p.m., an hour prior to the public meeting, the board will meet in closed session.

For more information, please contact the board office at 343-2480, ext. 1000.

April 5, 2010 - 8:05pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, schools, Board of Education.
Event Date and Time: 
April 12, 2010 - 8:00pm to 9:00pm

The Batavia Board of Education will hold a special meeting in the John Kennedy Elementary School cafeteria, 166 Vine St., beginning at 8 p.m., Monday, April 12. All are welcome to attend.

At 7 p.m., an hour prior to the public meeting, the board will meet in closed session.

For more information, please contact the board office at 343-2480, ext. 1000.

March 15, 2010 - 5:34pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, Board of Education.
Event Date and Time: 
March 22, 2010 - 8:00pm to 9:00pm

The Batavia Board of Education will hold a regular meeting at the board office, 39 Washington Ave., beginning at 8 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

The board will meet in closed executive session for about an hour, beginning at 7 p.m. The public meeting will begin afterwards.

For more information, please contact the board office at 343-2480, ext. 1000.

March 2, 2010 - 12:30pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, Board of Education.
Event Date and Time: 
March 8, 2010 - 8:00pm to 9:00pm

The Batavia Board of Education will hold a "special meeting" at the board office, 39 Washington Ave., beginning at 8 p.m., Monday, March 8. All are welcome to attend.

At 7 p.m., an hour prior to the public meeting, the board will meet in closed session.

For more information, please contact the board office at 343-2480, ext. 1000.

March 9, 2009 - 8:06am
posted by Tasia Boland in batavia, schools, Board of Education.

The economic downfall continues to leave Margaret Puzio, Superintendent of Schools, and the School Board of Education studying their options carefully as they create a spending plan.

According to the New York State Executive Budget  the Executive Budget will provide $20.7 billion for School Aid in 2009-10. It is a decrease of 3.3 percent from last year.  The site says without this budget cut the Executive Budget proposal for 2009-2010 would have been $2.5 billion higher than what was originally proposed.

Margaret Puzio, Superintendent of Schools stated in the A+ Batavia Communicator, “The Board of Education has asked the district to keep expenditures well below the contingent budget cap of 4%.”

Puzio writes the budget deficit has caused a pause in all state aid, along with a further reduction in a form of a Deficit Reduction Assesment.(DRA).

The board is waiting to make a final budget, hoping to receiving aid from the Federal Government.

“Right now, we do not know the impact the Federal Economic Stimulus Bill may have on education aid,” writes Puzio in the newsletter, “And so we prepare a budget that protects our programs both curricular and extra-curricular and remains mindful of the community’s needs.”

The board plans to adopt a tentative budget at the Board of Education meeting March 16, 7 p.m. at the Administration building.

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