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City of Batavia Youth Board

January 29, 2021 - 8:28am

The City of Batavia has received two responses to its request for proposal for agencies interested in providing youth services to the municipality.

Interim Manager Rachael Tabelski, speaking at Thursday night's City of Batavia Youth Board meeting via Zoom videoconferencing, said one firm scored an average of 90 and the other scored an average of 75. Scoring was done by Tabelski, members of the youth board and other persons named to the selection team.

A third firm responded with a no-bid letter stating that it did not wish to bid.

Tabelski shared this information with Youth Board members David Twichell, Paula Fischer and Lydia Schauf and City Council liaison Al McGinnis before continuing with the RFP discussion in executive session – without The Batavian reporter in attendance.

It was expected that the Youth Board would meet in the next week or so to interview one or both of the organizations that indicated responded favorably.

Tabelski did get back to The Batavian following the meeting last night.

“The plan going forward may include interviews (of one or both of the candidates) and for the measure to be put on a Council agenda to explain why the selection committee has rated a particular firm as the highest,” she said.

She would not disclose the names of the two organizations in the running, but said that the agenda of City Council’s Feb. 22 Conference Meeting “potentially” could include the youth services RFP item.

As an historical note, the Liberty Center for Youth opened in August 2019 as a joint venture of the City Youth Bureau and Genesee Area Family YMCA and the subsequent daily operation (before it was closed due to COVID-19) was being split 50/50 by the City Youth Bureau and YMCA.

The RFP was drafted by Jocelyn Sikorski, the former county/city youth bureau executive director, before she left the position to take the executive director job with Cornell Cooperative Extension. It was sent out on Dec. 1 to local organizations that may wish to contract with the city for the 2021-22 fiscal year that begins on April 1.

The city’s primary youth services are an afterschool program at the Liberty Center for Youth on the City Church St. Anthony’s campus and a summer recreation program, but it does participate in other activities, including those coordinated by Genesee County.

Fischer reiterated the youth board’s position that the city’s agreement with the county to share the cost of an executive director should be dissolved in light of Sikorski’s departure, the city’s budget situation and the county possibly looking to make changes to the way it delivers youth services.

It was noted that the county has not billed the city for youth services during the first quarter of this year and that the city has not requested any services from the county.

Twichell asked McGinnis if City Council understood that the youth board recommended ending the contract with the county, but Tabelski said dissolution of contracts was a responsibility of the city manager’s office, and ultimately it would be decided by City Council.

Fischer mentioned that the reason the city contracted with the county because, at the time, it was required by the state.

“Shared services were a big thing being pushed by the governor and it made sense to share that position and get the state funding – and save the city money in the process,” she said. “But in 2017, we no longer needed to have that position to get the state funding.”

In other developments, the board:

  • Welcomed Schauf, a former city youth bureau employee, to the committee for a term extending to Dec. 31, 2023. Schauf said she would be contacting Chelsea Elliott, the county’s deputy youth bureau executive director, about the youth board’s intention to participate in the annual Youth Awards Banquet, usually held in April.
  • Put out a call to enlist other community members to join the committee, noting that its bylaws call for 11 members with no fewer than five seats for adults. Currently, there are only four citizen representatives on the youth board.
  • Scheduled its next regular meeting for 6 p.m. Feb. 16 as long as space at City Hall is available as the consensus was to have an in-person meeting. The agenda for that meeting will include the appointment of officers and a review of the bylaws.

Previously:  Youth Board backs RFP for possible outsourcing, but wants city to keep in-house program 'on the table'

December 16, 2020 - 3:16pm

A citizen advisory committee supports fast-tracking a request for proposal to outsource youth services for the City of Batavia, but hopes the city would consider managing its afterschool and summer recreation programs if none of the applications received are accepted.

During a Zoom videoconferencing meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski and County/City Youth Bureau Executive Director Jocelyn Sikorski reviewed a six-page RFP with the City Youth Board.

The document, drafted by Sikorski, is earmarked to be sent out on Dec. 21 to local organizations interested in providing youth services to the city for the 2021-22 fiscal year that begins on April 1.

David Twichell, president; Paula Fischer, Kristen Gloskowski, and City Council liaison Al McGinnis represented the City Youth Board at the meeting.

“So, I guess that we're doing this as a cost-saving measure,” Fischer said, framing the city’s decision to move from an in-house operation to contracting with an outside agency. “Obviously, if things come in and aren’t a cost savings, we as a board would like to see what we could do within a budgeted amount … taking the 20-percent cut or whatever … to replace a youth coordinator, director … and hiring back part-time staff at the Liberty Center and running the program in the summer like we have in the past.”

The Liberty Center for Youth on the St. Anthony’s campus of City Church on Liberty Street serves as the city’s afterschool location.

“That is still on the table I would imagine,” she said. “I guess my question is that we’re putting out the RFP, but there still is that alternative that we don’t accept any of them and go back to running it in-house like we have for years.”

Tabelski countered by saying that it would be best to make that determination after receiving RFPs, adding, “I would hope that we find a suitable proposal.”

Sikorski concurred, stating that the city has the right to refuse any proposal, “but I think that we have community-based organizations that are capable of providing this service in Genesee County, who can make it work fiscally, not only to maintain the level that we’ve had, but also to save the city money, honestly.”

Twichell: Keep an In-House Plan on the Table

At this point, Twichell summarized the youth board’s position that it would like the city to keep its options open.

“We understand that the RFP is a good attempt to save the city money but we just want to have that left on the table that if push comes to shove, and the RFPs don’t pan out, then we might be able to set up, like we used to have it (although) we might have to reduce services at certain parks or whatever,” he said.

As far as filling vacant youth positions in the city, McGinnis said in a difficult budget year, Council wouldn’t be able to guarantee that this year.

Twichell responded, “We would like to make it aware that youth services, now, is the only department in the city without any staff.”

Tabelski explained that youth services are not classified as a city department, but are under the umbrella of administration, supervised by the assistant city manager (which is vacant at this time).

That prompted Fischer to ask if some of the administrative staff could be reassigned to the Liberty Center “like we did with (former employee) Lydia (Schauf) when we reassigned her to the YMCA during the pandemic when the youth center was closed.”

Tabelski said that Civil Service job descriptions prevented that from happening, but Fischer maintained that youth services, with a budget of around $234,000 (out of a $24 million city budget) shouldn’t “bear the brunt of your budget woes.”

“I don’t think that hiring one youth coordinator is going to break the bank or the budget,” she said. “And we’re talking about five or six part-time people … there’s a lot of different things that we could look at.”

Participation Fees: To Pay or Not to Pay

All agreed that the objective is to continue existing youth programs for Batavia and Genesee County, and the RFP incorporates that by listing eight key components: creative arts; library, media and technology; activities that include science, math and technology; homework help/tutoring; recreation and sports; science and nature; indoor and outdoor activities, and snacks/meals.

“There also is an assessment process to determine that the agency is meeting program goals and objectives, and continuing to participate with the county youth bureau,” Sikorski said. “We do several things collaboratively between the city and the county, and that relationship should continue.”

She mentioned events such as youth recognition awards, youth leaders conference, annual youth conference, and National Night Out. An outside agency running the program would have to comply with performance measures.

Cost to participants also came up, with Fischer pointing out a section on page 3 of the RFP that indicated “no, or very low cost to the City of Batavia families” for summer recreation.

“I am pretty sure the direction of City Council was that there would be no cost to families,” said Fischer, who, in recent weeks, has spoken out against what she perceives as the city’s rush to bring in another organization, such as the Genesee Area YMCA, to run the youth program.

Tabelski said she was not opposed to eliminating “very low cost” and leaving it as “no cost” for the summer rec program.

Fischer said she didn’t think it would be fair to have a city taxpayer have to pay an additional fee for their child or children to participate in city youth functions.

“I don’t think a city taxpayer should have to pay for their child to go – if you’re paying your city taxes, that should be it,” she said. “So, people paying taxes could be taxed again to send their kid to a parks program where someone else is getting it paid by their town or getting a sliding fee scale.”

Sikorski advised that if they go the route of “no cost,” then it would be free to all participants across the board “because if the town is contributing like they have for decades to that cost, then it’s applicable to everybody.”

“Working with other municipal recreation programs, there was at one point in time where our rules and regulations stated that they could not charge; (that) none of our programs could charge a fee,” Sikorski offered. “That changed in the early 2000s, and luckily a lot of our recreation programs do not charge. Some of them may ask for a donation for field trips or a small fee per week depending upon their child. And I’m talking small, I mean minimal, like $5 per kid.”

Scoring Based Upon Selection Criteria

McGinnis said the RFP needs to go out as soon as possible with the city’s 2021-22 proposed budget due to City Council by mid-January.

“We have a very tough budget this year … and this being a piece of it, we have to know where we stand,” he said.

Fischer, Twichell and Gloskowski said they were satisfied with the RFP and the timeline.

Tabelski noted that the RFP does not include a cost for these services.

“The reason you do an RFP is to find competitive pricing for services, so we don’t dictate a price to the market, we let the market come back to us,” she said.

She said the plan is to form a selection team after the RFP deadline of Jan. 15 -- with the Youth Board as part of that team -- to score the proposals, using a matrix that awards points for each of items in the selection criteria, as follows:

  • The eligible agency’s capacity to effectively, efficiently and immediately provide needed service, program design and developmentally appropriate programs;
  • The eligible agency’s proposal to meet the goals and objectives of the City of Batavia’s Youth Service & Recreation Plan;
  • The price of service;
  • The ease of utilization and accessibility of the Program to parents;
  • The capacities to provide ongoing staff development, staff availability, qualifications, rate of turn over, ability to fill vacancies;
  • The documentation that all applicable health and safety codes and licensure or registration requirements are met;
  • The fiscal solvency of the agency;
  • The capacity and experience in serving children with disabilities;
  • The capacity and experience in serving children and their parents where they are Limited English Proficient.

Tabelski said RFPs are operational and issued by the city manager or Department of Public Works, for example. Approvals are made by City Council once the RFP process is completed.

In this case, the selected agency, as well as those not chosen, are to be notified by Feb. 5.

November 23, 2020 - 9:09pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, City of Batavia Youth Board.

Keep City of Batavia afterschool youth services in the same building. Provide the same service or better. And do it for the same money or less.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. cut to the chase tonight, starting a discussion about the municipality’s youth bureau with this clear directive to Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski. He also said it is imperative that the City of Batavia Youth Board is involved in the process.

“I would request that she (Tabelski) pursue cost-saving measures involving the Youth Bureau – Youth Board and the Youth Bureau – to not cut any services and to not move the building,” Jankowski said at the Council Conference Meeting at City Centre Council Board Room.

“In other words, I want the same services and I want the same building on the Southside – the Liberty Center (for Youth) on the City Church St. Anthony’s campus on Liberty Street – where it is now. So, that’s your starting point, and if you could please explore options of finding alternative ways to provide that service for less money. And please include the Youth Board in your discussions, so they have some input on it.”

With that, city management and the Youth Board, which serves at the direction of City Council in an advisory role, will explore ways to continue to effectively and efficiently provide afterschool and summer programming for Batavia’s young people.

The future of City of Batavia youth services became a somewhat heated topic earlier this month when a resolution to dissolve, a year early, a longstanding joint agreement between the city and county to share a youth bureau executive director came before two Genesee County Legislature committees.

It was presented as a cost savings for the city, which shares the expense of the director, Jocelyn Sikorski. The county’s Human Services Committee passed the resolution, but the Ways & Means Committee tabled it after learning of objections outlined in a letter sent to the media by the Youth Board.

Youth Board members stated that they were not asked for their opinion and were wary of putting city youth services into the hands of an outside entity.  Youth Board members David Twichell and Paula Fischer voiced their concerns at the last City Council meeting, fearing that a contract for the Genesee Area YMCA to run the program was a “done deal.”

Tonight, it seems as though city leaders and the Youth Board have settled their differences, according to Fischer, who was at the meeting.

“I have been in a lot of phone communication today with Dave Twichell, our president of the Youth Board, and with President Jankowski,” she said. “Everything has been very positive. I guess I expect things to move a little bit quicker when somebody says ‘let’s set up a meeting’ but I talked with the Council president and I said that we will be patient and work together.”

Fischer said what Council agreed to tonight was “what we wanted after the last Council meeting, so I’m very excited to move ahead and work with City Council and the city manager to retain the same level of services – and ‘reimagine’ youth services as our governor says all the time.”

“So, we’re going to reimagine youth services and we’re going to keep the same level of services as dictated by Council. So, it’s all very positive,” she said.

Council Member Al McGinnis, liaison to the Youth Board, noted Twichell and Fischer’s 20 years of combined service to city youth as he relayed the former’s request.

“Dave has three suggestions, that’s all they are, suggestions from the Youth Board for us,” McGinnis said. “One is to sever as of Jan. 1 an agreement with the county as planned by Rachael and Jocelyn. We restore the full-time position from Lydia Schauf (who left city employment for another job following a hiring freeze) and plan the reopening of Liberty Center – and again, they are well aware of COVID and also well aware of the budget restraints that we will be facing.”

McGinnis said the Youth Board wishes to retain the Liberty Center and as many summer programs as possible.

“We’re not trying to massage any egos here; all we’re trying to do is what is best for the children – the youth of Batavia – and for the city taxpayers,” he said.

He also said that if the city did contract with the YMCA, the Youth Board would continue to exist and serve in an advisory capacity, and that City Council would continue to have a member on the Youth Board.

McGinnis said that a meeting of the Youth Board is scheduled for Dec. 15, and it was his hope that a “compromise” could be worked out.

Jankowski quickly reiterated that what he said is “just directing” and suggested scheduling a meeting of all parties prior to the Youth Board’s regular meeting on the 15th.

“I would just ask the public and the Youth Board’s patience because right now my main priority as a Council member is the safety of the community under this pandemic … and at best, there’s really not much that is going to happen with the Youth Board until spring. It doesn’t mean that we have to wait until spring to discuss it.”

After that, Council Member Robert Bialkowski requested to see a spreadsheet of all costs related to youth services (Fischer said the yearly budget is around $168,000). He also asked about the possibility of a 'request for proposal' to go out to interested outside organizations to avoid any preferential treatment.

Jankowski said the city already has a contract with the YMCA at the Liberty Center and questioned the feasibility of bringing in another company. In any event, he again emphasized that it is Tabelski’s responsibility to look into these aspects and that no plan is in place at this time.

Council Member Rose Mary Christian applauded City Church staff for the way it has run its youth activities in recent years and made it clear she is in favor of keeping city youth services at the Liberty Street location.

“I certainly, definitely do not want it to move from that area,” she said. “There’s a lot of children. Their parents don’t drive … We don’t need to have the kids out on the street. They need something structured for them so they can become … responsible young adults.”

Previously: Council member vows not to cut city youth services, assures advisory board that it will be involved

Previously: City Youth Board at odds with management over future of afterschool, summer programs; county takes a step back

Previously: County's termination of youth bureau agreement to save City of Batavia $20K next year

February 28, 2020 - 12:42pm

Press release:

On Thursday, March 26, the City of Batavia and Genesee County Youth Boards will sponsor their 24th annual Youth Recognition Dinner at Terry Hills Restaurant & Banquet Facility.

Twenty young people will be honored for their commitment to community service and/or their impressive role in their family. Additionally, the dinner will recognize two adult youth workers and an adult youth volunteer.

The following young people will be recognized for their outstanding service in the community and/or family: Amanda Bergman, Justine Bloom, Shannon Breton, Sydney Brown, Emily Cerefin, Elizabeth Clark, Ally Flint, Tate Fonda, Luke Geiger, Sally LaDuke, Julie Muntz, Eva Rhoads, Kelsey Schlagenhauf, Donovan Sherman, Madaline Spencer, Montana Weidman, Lily Whiting, Isabella Wilder, Rachael Wight and Maxwell Whalen.

Maria Casper is receiving the Adult Youth Worker Award from her position at Elba Central School. Casper goes above and beyond her job requirements to do whatever she can do for her students. Michael Wilson is receiving the Adult Youth Volunteer Award for his extensive time spent organizing and making “Shooting for a Cure” a huge success.

Registration and refreshments will begin at 5 p.m. The program and dinner will commence at 6 p.m. Seating is limited.

If you are interested in attending the banquet, contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau at (585) 344-3960 no later than March 11th.

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