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January 13, 2022 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in live stream, batavia, City Schools, Jason Smith.

Hosted by the Batavia City School District.

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January 8, 2022 - 8:00am

Although the year is new, an old acquaintance is tagging along and costing Batavia City School District more money to deal with its effects. 

Yes, COVID-19 is on next week’s Board of Education meeting agenda. The board is expected to review a bid from Enviro-Mist for portable medical-grade airborne disinfection control devices. According to the company’s website, Enviro-Mist is “a high-level disinfecting and sterilizing firm recognized as a leader in our industry.”

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday in Batavia High School’s library, 260 State St.

Other financial business includes a vote to approve $8,500 to Campus Construction Management for construction management services and $43,000 to SEI Design Group Architect Services, both related to the emergency repair of the BHS roof. Estimated winds of up to 76 miles per hour damaged the roof on Dec. 11, 2021, and the board is being asked to approve a two-phase repair of $28,000 and $15,000.

Other votes include:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding with each business administrator, executive director of staff development and operations, executive director of curriculum and instruction; the Batavia Teachers’ Association for a Schedule D stipend; and Genesee Community College for the TRIO Upward Bound College Preparation Program.
  • To accept a bid of $94,400 from Kircher Construction Inc. for the window repair and replacement at BHS as part of a 2021-22 capital outlay project.

The agenda also includes time for the public to be heard (sign up before the meeting), and presentations from John Kennedy School Principal Brian Sutton; Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Mike Bromley and Batavia Middle School physical education teacher James Patric; Business Administrator Scott Rozanski; and new Superintendent Jason Smith. 

Board meetings are typically on the third Thursday of every month, however, scheduling conflicts caused a shift for the board and district staff to meet on Tuesday. Meetings will resume the regular Thursday schedule in February, District Clerk Brittany Witkop said. 

Every meeting is live-streamed via YouTube at:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8JI99xyBJt1sG  

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January 3, 2022 - 11:00pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, superintendent, Jason Smith, notify.

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It’s trivia time for students at Batavia High School: who is a huge Buffalo Bills fan, an avid reader, a musician, runner and is a Bruce Springsteen fan?

If you were listening to this morning’s announcements, the answer is a no-brainer. Newly hired Superintendent  Jason Smith revealed those recreational activities during an on-air interview from the high school's main office. Smith is also happy to “talk books” of all kinds, listen to classic 1980s rock and roll, play his trombone in some local bands and spend family time watching the fourth season of Cobra Kai.

Aside from his personal passions, Smith is looking forward to returning to BHS as a 1990 graduate. 

“I have always been very proud of Batavia. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with students, and to work with the faculty and staff,” he said. “My drive has gone from 40 minutes to four.”

As the former superintendent of Lyndonville Central School, Smith’s daily travel went north to Orleans County. He was there for the last 10 years, after serving as Elba middle and high school principal, and a teacher in Albion. After graduating from Batavia High School, Smith's college major was history, and he attended both Geneseo and Brockport State College.

According to Board of Education President Alice Benedict, Smith met some key characteristics that community members had sought, including being a hometown resident and not making Batavia a short stop on the way to another district. The board, with direction from Genesee Valley BOCES Superintendent Kevin Macdonald, conducted a search in late 2021 after former Superintendent Anibal Soler announced he was leaving.

 Smith brings with him a lifestyle philosophy he’d like to share with everyone he encounters.

“Going back to when I taught, I always believed in the concept of high expectations,” he said. “Raise the bar, set high goals. It’s our job as the adults to help achieve those high expectations.”

Smith began his career in 1994 in the Albion Central School District as a high school social studies teacher had various principal positions at Elba Central School from 2004 to 2011, and has been at Lyndonville Central from 2011 to present.

He received his Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration and his Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Brockport. He is also a graduate of The State University of New York at Geneseo, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in History with a Minor in Sociology.

Monday was Smith’s first official day at the city school district. He and Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping had previously reviewed district business, Bischoping said. Smith's first board meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Jan. 11 in the high school library. Board meetings will resume on the third Thursday of the month beginning in February. 

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Top photo: New Superintendent Jason Smith answers questions during Monday morning announcements at Batavia High School. Above, Smith answers questions during announcements with Student Co-Mayor Mackenzie Harmon and high school Principal Paul Kesler Monday at the high school. Photos by Howard Owens.

 

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December 20, 2021 - 10:58pm

As parents and school leaders grapple with how to manage ongoing student mental health issues as a result of the pandemic, increased isolation and heavy social media use, it seems to come down to the basics.

That was the message from Tharaha Thavakumar, a school-based therapist with Genesee Mental Health, during a Zoom meeting with media Friday. 

“I think we just need to be putting out more goodness, with the way everything is in society,” she said. “I think we have to not normalize violence. I think we need to start seeing the kindness and the goodness, and other things that are happening in the world that are not violent.” 

That’s a tall order, considering that social media has pushed the limits of fun and innocuous posts into dangerous territory. Thavakumar’s talk, sponsored by Rochester Regional Health, stemmed from a TikTok challenge to kids across the country. They were encouraged to participate in a “Shoot Up Your School” challenge on Friday, Dec. 17. While some districts across the country closed school for the day, many others, including Batavia City Schools, tightened their safety protocols and had school resource officers and/or local police on-site or nearby just in case of an event.

There were no reports of any shootings Friday, but even the anticipation of such events can make for “heightened awareness,” Thavakumar said. Although there were no imminent threats, the idea of someone bringing a gun to school and using it can definitely cause “a lot of anxiety to the parents, to the teachers, to the faculty, to the students,” she said.

Living in an online world ...
“It’s unfortunate that social media has this power to kind of cause these threats and anxieties,” she said. “We’ve already had a rough year, just coming off of remote learning and hybrid learning.”

Take the pandemic and related stress, and then add “those societal threats” to it, and it really has a negative impact to mental health, she said. 

“It’s initially always that humans go to the negative; it’s how we view things,” she said. 

Having children of her own, Thavakumar understands the need to weigh each situation to determine the level of safety or danger. Her teenage son didn’t want to go to school after hearing about the challenge the night before. His mom suggested that they wait and see what, if anything, happens on Friday before making a final decision. On Friday, they came to a mutual conclusion.

“My kids did go to school today, I felt confident enough in school safety. I knew my son would be surrounded by kids he knew,” she said. “The kids I work with had a lot of anxiety; they had lockdown drills. Actually experiencing it is scary, it is something very traumatizing the kids have to go through … a pandemic and masks, school shootings, and threats seem to be happening more frequently. This is a reality that kids have to deal with, so it’s a constant trauma.”

Those intense feelings can make it very difficult to focus on academics, she said, and kids adapt to being in “fight or flight mode” and acquire “a whole lot of” physical ailments, poor sleep and mental health issues. 

“And then we wonder why kids can’t do well in school, because they’re in constant survival mode,” she said. 

Communication is key ...
As pointed out by Batavia High School Principal Paul Kesler and senior Kylie Tatarka at this month’s city schools board meeting, good communication is crucial for helping kids cope. Both high school members talked about a strategy of having counselors visit students in class to check out how each is doing. That falls in line with Thavakumar’s advice.

“Talk to the kids and work on relationship building. If you as a parent notice your child is withdrawing, get them help,” Thavakumar said. “Just be aware … children are going through a lot. If they say they’re nervous, ask them why. Validate how they feel, and I think that’s the biggest thing that we miss. A lot of times were like it’s Ok, everything will be fine. No, it’s Ok to be upset.”

If one’s child doesn’t want to talk to his or her parent, then find a trusted person who they can and will talk to, she said. Kids are worried about what’s going on in the world, she said, and having a trusted relationship lets them know there’s someone they can go to when needed. 

How to begin ...
The School Mental Health and Training Center offers articles, assessment tools, and tips for how to deal with a mental health concern and emotional well-being. The site also provides mental health conversation starters to offer examples of what parents might say to get the ball rolling with a tight-lipped child.

This toolkit provides sample prompts for a variety of situations or concerns as well as tips on how to discuss good mental health habits in students and how to create a safe, caring, and age-appropriate atmosphere for ongoing conversation and dialogue with children and youth.

Instead of asking a yes/no question, such as “Are you okay?”, the site suggests to start a conversation that invites your child to share beyond a one-word answer. These may include:

• “It seems like something’s up. Let’s talk about what’s going on.”
• “I’ve noticed you’ve been down lately. What’s going on?”
• “Seems like you haven’t been yourself lately. What’s up?”
• “You don’t seem as ______ as you usually are. I’d like to help if I can.”
• “No matter what you’re going through, I’m here for you.”
• “This might be awkward, but I’d like to know if you’re really alright.”
• “I haven’t heard you laugh (or seen you smile) in a while. Is everything okay?”
• I’m worried about you and would like to know what’s going on so I can help.

Not all conversation starters need to be questions, the site states, and many times a caring statement and a moment of silence is all it takes for someone to begin sharing.
When noticing a change in behavior, it’s important to focus on the reason or emotion behind the action rather than the action itself. Avoid asking “Why are you (not) ______?” and, instead, state what you are noticing and what might be behind the behavior.

For example:

• “I’ve noticed that you seem more anxious on Sunday nights. What’s going on?”
• “Have you noticed that you’re not eating all of your dinner lately? I wonder if something is bothering you.”
• “I haven’t seen you playing basketball like you used to. What’s up?”

Noting, and asking about, a child’s behavior in a non-judgmental way avoids a typical “good/bad” dynamic that also demonstrates concern and care, it states. 
Thavakumar’s advice to highlight more of the good in the world diminishes what the site calls "a reinforcement of negative stigmas."  The Mental Health Association of New York State urges adults to watch for ways that students are practicing good mental health and wellness skills and to talk about it with them. 

For more information, visit the School Resource Center at mentalhealthEDnys.org.

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December 17, 2021 - 2:20pm
posted by Press Release in Jackson School, batavia, City Schools, schools, education, Christmas.

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Press release:

Students at Jackson Primary worked very diligently on ornaments for festive Christmas trees that were purchased by the Jackson Parent-Teacher group in every community.

Our teachers Jessica Kolb and Mallory Flanagan helped to create these beautiful decorations for the trees. The students based their ornaments on a themed book. Community 1 read “The Smiley Snowman”, Community 2 read “Santa Bruce”, and Community 3 read “The Library Gingerbread Man.” 

After the students completed the ornaments they were hung on the trees for everyone to see. Teachers participated in a hallway decorating contest with students to showcase their theme. The students created work that complimented their themes. There were pictures of snowflakes, running gingerbread men, and festive sweaters with students' faces on them.

Every staff member and community participated in this holiday wonderland.  Students strolled the halls to see the beautiful and creative scenery all throughout Jackson Primary. 

On December 14th, three community members; Michelle Humes (Batavia Board of Education Member Assigned to Jackson Primary), Firefighter Tedford (Batavia Fire Department), and School Resource Officer Miah Stevens, visited Jackson Primary to be the judges of the Hallway Decorating Contest. 

It was a very tough decision due to the creativity in every hallway, but they decided after a long deliberation that community 3 (Gingerbread Men) was the most creative community in the school. 

Teachers in Community 3 are: Mrs. Amerine, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Ellingsworth, Mr. Ferri, Mrs. Koukides, Ms. Mattice, Mrs. Peterson, Mrs. Reeves, Mrs. Restivo, Mrs. Wolff, Mrs. Richenberg, Mrs. Sprague, Mrs. Wohlers, Mrs. O’Campo, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Wolff, Mrs. DiMartino, Mrs. Conroy, and Mrs. Grasso. The students in that community won a Timbit party donated by Tim Hortons on East Main Street.  All teachers and staff won a pizza party from the administration for their camaraderie and team-building efforts as a Jackson Family.

Photos by Howard Owens. Top photo: Principal Maureen Notaro, left, and Nancy Okoniewski, far right, with students in a UP-K class.

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December 16, 2021 - 11:01pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, Bullying, batavia, notify.

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Adjusting bullying protocols to better accommodate student needs is in the hands of Batavia City School board members, Rebecca Eldridge says. 

And she urges them and the district at large to work more diligently to improve the way district personnel responds to student accusations of verbal and physical attacks. 

“I stand here tonight on behalf of many students and families whose stories and voices have been dismissed,” she said to the Board of Education during its meeting Thursday at Batavia High School. “Two weeks ago my family became one as well. I implore you to take action for every single student that walks through these halls. Enforce policies for every student every day.”

The story she shared came in between her introduction and final urgings. Her son had been assaulted to the point of a swollen eye, bloody nose, bruised ribs and abrasions to his legs, she said. Yet he, too, was suspended along with the bully for defending himself. Perhaps even more upsetting was that she learned he was sent on to his next class after the attack, and did not receive medical attention until later, she said.

“That is neglect without question,” she said. “Staff failed to report to their superiors, which is school policy.”

Not once but three times her son suffered “intimidation, threats and physical harm” from this bully’s sibling, she said. That history plus this particular assault she highlighted resulted in her son being physically injured and emotionally scarred due to trauma, she said.

The day she learned about the assault, Eldridge received a letter notifying her that her son had been suspended for throwing a basketball at the bully, she said. The bully had been seriously taunting her son for four years, and “the school has done nothing.”

Meanwhile, he has missed out on school academics and sports, she said, as district officials reminded her to “be grateful for two — not five — days suspension.”

“Your son was not the aggressor, but we have to; it’s policy,” Eldridge said, repeating what district officials told her. 

She maintained that the district’s Information Technology and “higher administration” staff confirmed there was audio of the event with her son, and that she was subsequently lied to that there was none. The situation violates school policies, Code of Conduct and the Dignity For All Students Act, she said.

Her son’s record has been expunged, she said, “without conversation or an appeal.” Camera footage has disappeared as prior statements have been recanted, she said. 

Eldridge is looking for a shift in the system.

“Recently students and the community have desperately asked for their voices to be heard, changes to be made,” she said. “Change is in your hands tonight. Students including my son deserve nothing less than that from every one of you.” 

There was no board discussion about the issue after she spoke, however, she told The Batavian after the meeting that she was encouraged by what two board members privately expressed.

“They both thanked me for speaking,” she said. “One said ‘thank you for your courage,’ and the other said ‘I heard you, I heard you.’ I hope me speaking tonight has a positive impact, and brings change for our schools, for our children, and our community. As I said to them, it’s in your hands tonight.”

Parent Lidia Arteaga, who had previously spoken with The Batavian for a related article (Batavia City Schools’ parents speak out about bullying at the district), could not attend the meeting, but agreed with Eldridge’s main message. Arteaga’s daughter has experienced much verbal bullying, she said and deserves to be safe at school. Her daughter had created a pamphlet to raise awareness of the bullying episodes taking place without disciplinary action by the district. Her daughter was suspended for that act.

“Yes, change has to happen,” Arteaga said to The Batavian after the meeting. “Let me tell you that if anyone touches my daughter and they come back with those weak excuses, I will do anything I can to make them pay. I don’t know if change will happen, but I’m proud of my little girl for trying to make a difference. It’s at least opened the door for more communication.”

The Batavian asked Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping for a response to Eldridge’s accusations, and he could not offer much comment, he said.

“I am unable to discuss a specific student discipline issue,” he said, offering to talk more about the situation in the future. 

Top photo: Parent Rebecca Eldridge urges Batavia City School Board of Education members to take action and ensure the safety of students from bullying during a board meeting Thursday at the high school library. Photo by Howard Owens

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December 14, 2021 - 10:44pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, batavia, schools education, superintendent.

After enduring a pandemic, severe building damage due to strong winds, a student’s death, and complaints of unresolved bullying At Batavia City School District, Scott Bischoping’s second time around as interim superintendent is coming to a close.

The district’s Board of Education is expected to vote this week on a reorganizational move to change superintendents effective Jan. 3 of next year.
Bischoping took over the interim role during the summer after former administrator Anibal Soler Jr. announced he was leaving in July. 

The board had recently agreed to hire Jason Smith as the new superintendent, which would make this December board meeting the last one for Bischoping. It’s set to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in the high school’s library, 260 State St.

Other votes include contracts with Batavia Teachers’ Association, Batavia Agri-Business Child Development Program/ABCD Migrant Head Start, Elba Central School, Batavia Clerical Association, and the city school district’s executive director of Curriculum and Instruction.

BTA’s contract is up in July 2022 and a renewal would extend the agreement until June 30, 2026. The district’s contract with Batavia Agri-Business is for one year, from Feb. 1, 2022, to Jan. 31, 2023, and an agreement with Molly Corey of the Curriculum and Instruction Department would go from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2025.  Elba Central School’s agreement is for a 12:1:1 special needs program. 

The meeting includes time for the public to be heard before a slate of presentations and votes on consent items. 

Director Robert Conrad is to provide an update about Richmond Memorial Library; Kylie Tatarka, a student representative on the board, is to give the student ex-officio report; and Bischoping is to review an update as interim superintendent. 

Budget transfers, grant applications, appointments of new physical education, social studies and substitute teachers are also up for approval, as well as My Brother’s Keeper facilitator; six teacher aides; each of a high and middle school bus supervisor, and an agreement for professional services with Kimberly Gingrich MA/AC and the district for bilingual psycho-educational evaluations and additional social-emotional or adaptive assessments effective retroactive to Nov. 18, 2021.

The meeting will be live-streamed via YouTube.com

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December 9, 2021 - 8:01am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, Bullying, batavia, notify.

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Editor’s Note: Batavia City School District closed all schools last Friday, Dec. 3, following the perception of threats of violence and after the distribution of student-created literature and a proposed walk-out at Batavia High School. Students wanted to bring awareness to bullying and their belief that district officials were not responding adequately to reported incidents of bullying. The district closed after reports of threats of violence at buildings in the district began circulating on social media. Per a press release issued on Dec. 2, District officials "worked in close collaboration with the Batavia Police Department and made the decision to close the schools out of an abundance of caution." Many parents posted comments on social media and responded to The Batavian’s request for interviews. Parents’ full names and their children’s names are not being used to protect their privacy. 

To read the response of school and district officials to the parents' complaints, click here.

Lidia’s Story …
She would often come home distraught after being verbally taunted at Batavia Middle School.

She would tell her mom that kids called her names and told her to “go back where you came from,” which prompted the teenager to ask why. Why should she want to go back to Texas, she wondered.

No, that’s not what the kids meant, her mom Lidia said. Being of Hispanic and Native American descent, Lidia’s daughter was instead being asked to go back to Mexico, Lidia said.

“She would come home crying, saying ‘I’m from here,’” Lidia said Sunday to The Batavian. “I just want (district leaders) to realize there’s a problem at school. There’s bullying everywhere, and maybe the teachers, the Board of Education, the principals will pay attention.”

Lidia’s family moved from Texas to Batavia six years ago. It was mostly in the middle school that her daughter suffered from name-calling with “racist and homophobic slurs,” her mom said. The teenager, who is also gay, required counseling, a prescription medicine for depression, and, at one point earlier this year, hospitalization for her compounding mental health issues, her mom said. 

When the verbal assaults continued, albeit not quite as harsh as in middle school, the current high school senior finally had enough. She and some friends decided to organize a walk-out, promoted with a flyer, and advertise the bullying wrongs in a pamphlet, both created by Lidia’s daughter. 

She asked her mom what she thought of the idea. It wasn’t just for Lidia’s daughter, but for those others she saw getting bullied as well with nothing being done by the school district. 

“Her biggest concern was a lot of people were getting bullied and no one is doing anything,” Lidia said. “They were alone in this; she felt that maybe having a walk-out might bring it to the attention of others. I told her to go ahead, and I was going to be there. She ruffled some feathers, she put a spotlight on it.”

The pamphlet’s cover page features a Batavia Blue Devil with “Batavia School Kills” at the top. It continues to state “Don’t tell us students to do better. Don’t try to place the blame on us. Staff Members are useless. They don’t care about us.”

Due to the use of students’ names throughout the pamphlet, The Batavian is not going to publish it here. Batavia city schools “allow racism, homophobia, sexism, and misogyny, but won’t allow our shoulders to be exposed,” it states. There are a number of alleged bullying scenarios described, including boys yelling homophobic comments, someone being screamed at to kill him/herself by another student, and using "nig- - -," "faggot" and "stupid Jew" to describe fellow students. 

There are some educational components of defining particular words, such as ableist, transphobic, racism, sexist and anti-Semitic. A couple pages have big bold letters asking “What the F- - -.”

Lidia’s daughter has been suspended from school for violating the Code of Conduct. She will receive tutoring at a site away from the high school for an indefinite period of time. Her mom is still waiting for instructions from the district administration. 

Holly’s Story …
Bullying with no repercussions seems to be a common complaint amongst parents and their children. Holly has two children in the district and one who graduated two years ago. The 10th-grader is bi-racial and diagnosed with autism spectrum. 

Bullying has driven her online, her mom says. 

As the victim of consistent racist name-calling — with no end in sight — the 15-year-old withdrew from the brick and mortar school in May and studies completely online now. 

“So a lot of people don’t know that I had been basically bullied out of school due to racism, being called names such as ‘nig- - -‘ and ‘monkey,’ she said in an online post provided to The Batavian by her mother. 

Although her daughter told teachers and counselors about the situation, she contends that the alleged bully remained in school with no apparent accountability, Holly said. 

“They were aware of it,” she said. “The situation continued.”

Her daughter ended up making some poor choices in response to the verbal attacks, her mom said, and is willing to face the consequences.  District leaders “were quick to give her suspension,” she said, but what about the other student?

“She continues to say things,” mom said of the alleged bully.

Both Lidia and Holly said that their children were offered a solution of removing themselves from the classroom and/or hanging out in a counselor’s office. Only problem with that was her child’s bully would sometimes also be in that counselor’s office, Holly said. 

She discussed the issue with district leaders in May and June of this year, without an acceptable solution, Holly said. And although she admits that her child is not perfect, she would like to see more being done to address bullying. 

“I think awareness definitely needs to take place,” she said. “My frustration is there’s a zero-tolerance policy.”

That means if two students get into a physical altercation, even if one of them was defending him/herself, that person could also get penalized. Holly feels that’s unfair.

“I think when these kids go to the teachers, there should be some kind of mediation between all parties involved,” she said. “Kids lose faith in the system if they’re going to teachers and nothing can be done. The BHS principal said that anyone who walks out will be suspended. Kids wanted to peacefully protest bullying. What’s being done about her being bullied?”

Regardless of district action, or inaction according to parents, both daughters weren’t going to wait around for someone else to help them. Lidia’s daughter drafted the printed literature to distribute, and Holly’s daughter created a petition at change.org.

The online petition, posted publicly by Ellie, has received 84 votes so far, with a total of 100 being sought. Her reason wasn’t “so much of being safe, but I’ll feel better as a person if I wasn’t attacked in school for my skin color,” she explained in the petition. She went on to request that “the student who has been racist to a lot of students at my school and me” be removed from school. 

“It’s not fair that students who have been attacked with racism by this person go to school and not know if this person is going to say those things again,” she said, adding that it’s not acceptable.  

Sherri’s Story …
For Sherri’s daughter, she opted to get physical. After dealing with a boy’s ongoing sexual harassment in her junior year, the girl slapped him in the face after first attempting to confront the bullying by reporting it to teachers, Sherri said. The end result was punishment for both sides. She got two days of in-school suspension and was suspended from school for one day. The boy was given two days of suspension. 

Sherri referred to a program that she believes isn’t being well promoted by the district. Sources of Strength, a peer-to-peer mentoring program, offers viable emotional support for troubled students, she said. Due to last year’s pandemic and kids staying home, this program isn’t well known in the district community, she said. 

Sources of Strength is a high school group with the message “We Belong!” It initiated a March 2021 campaign in the district newsletter. Sources of Strength is a suicide prevention program with approximately 70 BHS student members, called peer leaders, and six adult advisors, the newsletter stated.

Holly plans to keep her daughter out of school and online for the remainder of this year. She plans to wait and see “how this year plays out.”

“She is extremely bright and is doing higher-level classes at 15 … so she can get out of school as soon as possible because it is so stressful,” the proud mom said. “There are some good teachers there, some good people there, but all it takes is one rotten apple to spoil the bunch.”

Top photo: Batavia PD's resource officer worked at the school during the closure on Dec. 3 and another officer happened to be at the school at the time the photo was taken. Photo by Howard Owens.

Comments
December 9, 2021 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, Bullying, batavia, notify.

Editor’s Note: This is the response from Batavia City School District’s Administration regarding parent and student comments about bullying at district schools. The district closed city schools last Friday, Dec. 3, following the perception of threats of violence and after the distribution of pamphlets and a proposed walk-out in protest of what students believed was a lack of response to bullying.The district closed after reports of threats of violence at buildings in the district began circulating on social media. Per a press release issued on Dec. 2, District officials "worked in close collaboration with the Batavia Police Department and made the decision to close the schools out of an abundance of caution."

To read what the parents had to say about bullying at Batavia HS, click here.

Contrary to the belief of some families that Batavia City School staff doesn’t care about or respond to bullying adequately enough, there are teachers, counselors, administrators, and even student peers in place to support students in need, Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping says. 

“I think it’s important for parents to know we want to work together. We appreciate parent input,” he said during an interview with The Batavian Wednesday. “The folks here are committed to working with the kids and parents to make this district the best we can.”

Bischoping and Batavia High School Principal Paul Kesler agreed that incidents being cited by students do not always have a simple fix.  In fact, they are often “far more complex than that,” Bischoping said. 

He doesn’t deny that there are “true instances” of bullying that are clear-cut violations of the district’s Code of Conduct, however, “these are the ones that are easiest to work with,” he said. 

It is all of the other situations — involving “multiple kids and multiple issues” — that take time to navigate, investigate, decipher and determine who the key players are and what was said and/or done, he said. 

“There’s no immediacy involved with that,” Bischoping said. “There’s no one of these that looks alike; each one we go into with a different approach.”

Some students had reported to their parents instances of name-calling using homophobic and/or racist slurs, and that the incidents weren’t being taken seriously by district staff.

Kesler offered a rebuttal: These matters are treated with confidentiality, he said, and therefore information is often kept private while staff investigates the situation. 

“We do look into discrimination on any level; it isn’t anything that we tolerate,” Kesler said. “My recommendation is that if a parent calls somebody and they don’t feel the situation has been dealt with, call again. Once we’re made aware of the situation, we know our responsibility is to take care of it. Our goal is for the situation not to happen again.”

Some parents complained that their children were offered opportunities to leave the classroom and remove themselves from their accused bullies. The parents didn’t feel it was fair to remove their child from the classroom or to offer safe space at a counselor’s office, where the alleged bullies were as well. That’s where things can get dicey since counselors are also trying to talk with the accused bullies to try and rectify the situation, he said. 

Board of Education President Alice Benedict feels confident that district leaders are responding to family concerns appropriately.

"I talked to Interim Superintendent Bischoping several times, and he reassures me that available counselors and teachers are contending with lots of questions of students and their complaints of bullying," Benedict said. "I think they are doing all they can. It can be overwhelming for teachers and counselors. It seems the tragic death of one of the students seems to have pushed the students' comments of being bullied."

There has been no confirmation of that student's death being related to bullying, however, many families have linked it to other bullying incidents. District officials had no official comment about the death, but have offered condolences to the family at prior board meetings.

What is bullying?
According to the district’s Code of Conduct, the Dignity for All Students Act (pages 15 and 16) “makes sure students are learning how to get along, work together, and respect differences in schools that are safe and welcoming to all.” 

“The District strictly prohibits discrimination, harassment and/or bullying against any student, by employees or students, that creates a hostile school environment by conduct, or by threats, intimidation or abuse, including cyberbullying, that: a) has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional and/or physical well-being; or b) reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety; or c) reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or emotional harm to a student; or d) occurs off school property and creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment, where it is foreseeable that the conduct, threats, intimidation or abuse might reach school property,” the Code states.

“Such conduct shall include, but is not limited to: acts based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity or expression) or sex,” it states.

There are students that claim to have been so disturbed and disrupted by the name-calling that they left school and enrolled in a BOCES remote learning program that is completely online. Kesler estimated there to be 25 students enrolled in the program at this time for various reasons that also include parental concerns about the transmission of COVID-19. He would like students to remain in school, but the online program is another option, he said. 

Where to turn for help
The district provides four counselors at the high school and another counselor who is shared between the middle and high schools, and additional counseling or social work support is being actively sought, Bischoping said. Part of the American Rescue Plan Act funds of $5 million will go toward supports of instructional and mental health counseling, and other Covid-19 related needs, such as air purifiers, he said. 

Other resources include:

  • Sources of Strength is a peer-to-peer mentoring program led by a faculty advisor. (See Parents seek help for their bullied children.) “We’re encouraging students not to share publicly another student’s story, but if they’re aware (another student is troubled) … we have an emotional/social learning team,” Kesler said. SOS members may refer a student to that team, which can support the student with “reflective and restorative” measures to help them learn positive behaviors and recognize what to be aware of to deal with mental health challenges. 

    The We Belong campaign was to bring awareness to breaking stereotypes and being tolerant of all people, the newsletter stated. It focuses on inclusion and acceptance, without regard to race, religion, gender, culture, or other differences.

    “Instead, members work to encourage their peers to be proud of who they are and to find strength in the positive characteristics they hold,” it stated. “In line with the District's mottos of belonging together and remaining strong, the Sources of Strength group kicked off the campaign with a mural in the BHS entrance stating, ‘We, the Blue Devils, Belong Together.’”

    Throughout March, Sources of Strength members planned to reach out to the student body in a variety of ways, including shared, student-led videos and a lunchtime program aimed to reach as many individual students as possible. A wall art display represents how the entire student body creates one picture all together, regardless of differences, the newsletter stated.

  • The parent connection. School officials encourage parents to speak up about concerns. Call the district at 585-343-2480, Ext. 2000 for the high school. “If a parent knows the child is in trouble, we want them to get one-on-one counseling,” Kesler said. 
  • A counselor has been visiting students in social studies class Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the school year, to check-in and talk about how they’re doing. This is an opportunity for students to connect to a counselor and further discuss any issues they have out of the classroom.  “They’re telling students it’s ok to talk to a counselor (teacher, staff, principal) about something,” Kesler said, adding that he has received many emails and phone calls, plus had conversations with at least 100 people that were “positive and supportive” about the recent upheaval of discontent from groups of parents and students. Other students wanted their voices to be heard, he said, which prompted the district to figure out how to support those students that “may be feeling a little isolated.”
  • BOCES has a trained trauma-informed grief counselor that is shared by all BOCES districts and available for mental health crises, such as the death of a district teacher.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the United States. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, call the free and confidential Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For more information, go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

COVID Complications …
The pandemic — which closed school, placed students at home on a computer, and created massive social distancing — did its share of damage amongst students, Kesler said. CBS News reported that the United States Surgeon General issued an advisory this week about a mental health crisis that is worsening amongst youth.

The number of youth experiencing depressive and anxiety symptoms, the advisory stated, doubled during the pandemic to 25% and 20% respectively, and in early 2021, emergency room visits for suicide attempts in the U.S. were 51% higher for adolescent girls and  4% higher for adolescent boys compared to the same time in 2019. 

Kesler agreed that school districts are experiencing a similar pattern, according to counselor reports.

“Students are realizing that their mental health needs more priority, we’ve certainly seen that,” he said.

Comments
December 3, 2021 - 6:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

After a thorough investigation of the social media threats against the Batavia City School District (BCSD) that surfaced on Thursday, December 2, the Batavia Police Department has found no evidence of a credible threat to the district.

BCSD has been cleared to resume all activities beginning Saturday, December 4, and schools will open for all students on Monday, December 6.

As a precautionary measure, there will be an increased police presence in and around BCSD buildings for all activities this weekend and next week.

The Batavia Police Department continues to work in collaboration with the FBI and Secret Service to monitor all social media threats to ensure the continued safety of the district’s students and staff.   

If any student or family has any additional information regarding the threats, we ask that you please contact the Batavia Police Department at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370. 

Comments
December 2, 2021 - 10:40pm
posted by Press Release in schools, City Schools, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

Earlier today the City of Batavia Police Department was made aware of threats being spread on social media involving students from the Batavia City High School. Officers have been investigating, and continue to investigate this matter with assistance from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in order to determine the credibility of the threats circulating.

Out of an over-abundance of caution, the District, in consultation with the Police Department, has made the decision to close all buildings within the Batavia City School District tomorrow, Friday, December 3.

"The Department is taking this matter seriously, and will devote the resources needed to ensure the safety and security of the students in the Batavia City School District.", stated Chief Shawn Heubusch, "We remind parents to continue to monitor their child's social media presence and report anything that is suspicious."

We ask that parents and students report any information relative to the threats going around by contacting the City of Batavia Police Department at 585-345-6350 or submit a tip on the Department's CrimeWatch page (www.bataviapolice.org). Further, we discourage the public from continuing to share any posts as it can create unnecessary fear within our community.  

Previously: City Schools to close Friday due to threats of violence on social media

Comments
December 2, 2021 - 9:10pm
posted by Press Release in City Schools, news, batavia, notify.

Press release:

Over the last few hours, it’s been brought to the attention of the Batavia City School District (BCSD) administration that reports of threats of violence at buildings in the district are circulating on social media.

BCSD is currently working closely with the Batavia Police Department, and out of an abundance of caution, BCSD has decided to close all buildings in the district tomorrow, Friday, December 3, while the Batavia Police Department continues its investigation into whether these threats are credible.

All after-school activities are also canceled for Friday, December 3.

BCSD will continue to update students, families, and staff as relevant information on the investigation becomes available. The safety of BCSD students and staff is the top priority, and the district is taking these allegations against our community very seriously. 

If any student or family has any information regarding the threats, we ask that you please contact the Batavia Police Department at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370. 

UPDATE: News release from the Richmond Memorial Library.

Along with the Batavia City School District, the Richmond Memorial Library will be closed on Friday, December 3 to deal with an emergency situation. 

Comments
November 18, 2021 - 11:37pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, Batavia Middle School, batavia.

37b2dbbb-f82c-40ee-9e01-4dab17005697.jpeg

At 57 years old, it’s time to pay attention to some equipment at Batavia Middle School or risk the site’s future closure, Business Administrator Scott Rozanski says.

He presented the issue Thursday along with a recommendation to spend more than $57,500 for the repair of three pumps for the boiler at the Ross Street school. 

“When the boiler is working, condensation is working, and it captures that and reuses it throughout the system. It was installed in 1964 and started to show its age. The tank itself is leaking, along with return pumps,” Rozanski said during the board’s public hearing at the Batavia High School library. “If the tank and pumps were to fail, we wouldn’t be able to have school, and would have to shut down.”

Rozanski was asking for authorization to make the necessary repairs at a total cost of $57,583.52.

No one from the public showed up to the hearing. Rozanski explained that the price tag is part of a “piggyback bid” with the town of Greece. The pump problems were identified in a 2020 building conditions survey that’s to be performed every five years to assess facility needs and status. 

If the repairs are not made now, the issue could be a recurring expense, he said. A total of nearly $200,000 is currently in the Repair Reserve Fund, and this transfer of funds would leave $141,619.51, he said. 

“If there are funds at the end of the year, we will replenish the Repair Reserve for funds used,” he said. 

There was no discussion before a unanimous vote by Board President Alice Benedict and members Barbara Bowman, John Marucci, Jennifer Lendvay, and Chezeray Rolle to approve the use of funds. 

The board also voted to approve contracts or memorandums of agreement with:

— Firland Management/Batavia Ice Arena for use by Batavia Notre Dame United Hockey Team for practices and games.
— Notre Dame Board of Directors for interscholastic boys and girls swimming.
— Shared resources with the school districts of Pembroke and Byron-Bergen for Winterguard. 
— Attica Central School District for interscholastic wrestling. 
— Kimberly Gingrich for bilingual psycho-educational evaluations.
 

Updated 11/19/21: The Batavian reached out to Business Administrator Scott Rozanski for further clarification of the "piggyback bid" with Greece. The town of Greece had conducted a statewide bid for various New York State municipalities and schools. Bids were awarded by region to prime contractors for heating/ventilation/air conditioning, general contractor, electrical and plumbing work, Rozanski said.

“We were able to use this bid to secure a contractor instead of processing our own bid,” he said. “We did receive a quote initially to help assist with the initial planning of this project, which was approximately $18,000 higher.”

Photo above: Newly hired Superintendent Jason Smith reviews a board packet with District Clerk Brittany Witkop Thursday before the Batavia City Schools board meeting. Photo by Howard Owens.

Comments
November 16, 2021 - 10:13pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, batavia.

Batavia City School residents are invited to ask questions and share concerns this week about a proposed pump replacement for $57,583.52.

A hearing to review the replacement of condensate pumps at Batavia Middle School, and a related transfer of funds from the Repair Reserve Fund, has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Batavia High School library, 260 State St., Batavia.

A condensate pump is a specific type of pump used to extract the water produced in heating, cooling or refrigeration equipment, such as furnaces and air conditioners. The city’s Board of Education is expected to vote on the proposed project contract and transfer of funds during the regular board meeting to follow. Anyone wanting to speak during the hearing may sign up before it begins, and speakers are limited to three minutes each. 

District residents also have an opportunity to address more general district concerns or ask questions at the beginning of the regular meeting. Agenda items include board votes on contracts or memorandums of agreement with Firland Management/Batavia Ice Arena to allow use by Batavia Notre Dame United Hockey Team for practices and games; Notre Dame Board of Directors for interscholastic boys and girls swimming; and the school districts of Pembroke and Byron-Bergen for shared opportunities and resources for Winterguard. 

Additional agreements to be voted on include those with Attica Central School District for interscholastic wrestling and for the professional services of Kimberly Gingrich for bilingual psycho-educational evaluations.

The agenda also includes presentations from Middle School Interim Principal Nate Korzelius, Business Administrator Scott Rozanski, Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping, and Student Ex-Officio Kylie Tatarka.

Summary reports from the committees on Special Education and Preschool Special Education and board votes on resignations and appointments of several teacher aides SOAR staff members, long-term substitute teachers and bus, breakfast duty, detention, athletic, custodial, and Nutritional Services positions.

These meetings will be live-streamed via YouTube.com at  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8JI99xyBJt1sGdRzmCW2Kg

Comments
November 15, 2021 - 9:40pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, superintendent, batavia.

Batavia City School District’s newly hired superintendent was chosen, in part, for neatly fitting into some of the criteria suggested by community members during the interview process, Board of Education President Alice Benedict says.

Jason Smith, a 1990 Batavia High School graduate and city resident, will be shortening his commute come Jan. 3, 2022. Smith is currently superintendent of Lyndonville Central School, and was officially approved by the board during a special meeting Monday evening. 

“One of the things we heard from the community was that they really wanted someone who was a hometown person,” Benedict said to The Batavian after Monday’s special meeting. “And that he’s not using the district as a stepping stone. He’s a very straightforward person, we think he’s going to be a big asset and are excited to have him here.”

Smith has worked his way from high school social studies teacher to principal to superintendent in Albion, Elba, Lyndonville, and now Batavia City Schools. His experience and track record spoke loudly to the board, Benedict said, including when he first applied for a vacant superintendent position in Batavia. Competition was fierce, and Anibal Soler Jr. was chosen during that search. Smith returned a second time to interview after Soler left the district in July 2021. 

“We’re happy he came back,” Benedict said. “He’s excited to be back as superintendent at the district where he graduated.”

Smith thanked the board for “entrusting me with this tremendous opportunity.” Batavia is a very special place for him, he said. 

“I look forward to working alongside the incredible and inspiring students, staff, and community members, he said in a news release. “I can’t wait to hit the ground running in the new year.”  

During the meeting, Benedict thanked Genesee Valley BOCES Superintendent Kevin MacDonald for his guidance and help during the search process. She also gave a grateful nod to the board.

“I want to thank the board for their eagerness and patience,” she said, turning to her colleagues. “I appreciate your honesty, opinions, and steadfast aim to find the right superintendent for this school district.”

Scott Bischoping has been filling in as interim superintendent until a permanent choice was made. The process took time, energy, and coordination to involve not only board members, but district and community members as well, Benedict said.

“I’m just relieved the process is over,” she said. 

Smith began his career in 1994 in the Albion Central School District as a high school social studies teacher had various principal positions at Elba Central School from 2004 to 2011, and has been at Lyndonville Central from 2011 to present.

He received his Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration and his Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Brockport. He is also a graduate of The State University of New York at Geneseo, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in History with a Minor in Sociology.

Smith’s contract includes a yearly salary of $165,000.

Comments
November 15, 2021 - 7:31pm
posted by Press Release in news, City Schools, Jason Smith, notify.

11.15.21_bcsd_jason_smith_1.jpg

Press Release

Batavia City School District’s Board of Education has reached a contractual agreement and has formally appointed Jason Smith as the district’s new superintendent. Smith is scheduled to start his new role on Jan. 3, 2022. 

“The Board of Education is thrilled to welcome Jason Smith as the new superintendent of the Batavia City School District. We’re confident that his years of previous superintendent and administrative experience will serve our district well, not to mention he’s a BHS grad himself,” Board of Education President Alice Ann Benedict said in a news release. “As a local Batavian with children in our district, Jason understands the unique challenges and opportunities within our community, and we’re certain he will be a strong and dedicated leader for our students, staff, and families.” 

Smith first thanked the board for “entrusting me with this tremendous opportunity.”

“As a proud BHS grad, I am thrilled to be returning to Batavia in this new leadership role. Batavia is a very special place to me, and I look

forward to working alongside the incredible and inspiring students, staff, and community members,” he said in the release.  “I can’t wait to hit the ground running in the new year.”  

A 1990 Batavia High School graduate, Smith has served as the Superintendent of Schools in the Lyndonville Central School District since 2011. He also held various principal positions in the Elba Central School district from 2004-2011. He began his career in 1994 in the Albion Central School District as a high school social studies teacher. 

Smith received his Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration and his Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Brockport. He is also a graduate of The State University of New York at Geneseo, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in History with a Minor in Sociology.

Kevin MacDonald, District Superintendent of  Genesee Valley BOCES, served as the district's search consultant.

Submitted Photo of Jason Smith

Comments
November 5, 2021 - 11:51am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Community Schools, batavia, City Schools, news.

Press release:

Batavia Community Schools is hosting a Fall Expo on Tuesday, November 9, at its Robert Morris location.

The event will include a job fair from 2-7 pm, in conjunction with the Genesee County Business and Education Alliance (BEA), and the annual “Warm the Night” activities from 5-7 pm.

Addition information on the Fall Expo events:

FALL EXPO

Date: Tuesday, November 9

Location: Robert Morris: 80 Union Street, Batavia, NY

JOB FAIR @ the FALL EXPO

Time: 2-7 pm

Location: Robert Morris Multi-Purpose Room

  • Representatives from local businesses and organizations will be on-hand to discuss job opportunities and answer questions
  • Eligible students will be able to obtain their working papers from 5-7 pm
  • Open to all

WARM THE NIGHT @ the FALL EXPO

Time: 5-7pm

Location: Outdoors in the parking lot on the corner of Richmond/Vernon Avenues

  • Donated coats, scarves, gloves, and hats will be available for children and families
  • Local agencies and organizations will have tables set up to educate the community on the services they offer
  • Food will be served by BCSD Administration, and all registrants will be eligible for raffle prizes

COVID PROTOCOLS

  • Masks will be required in the building
  • Tables will be socially distanced
  • All participants will need to register before entering

Batavia Community Schools was launched in 2020 with a vision of building a better Batavia by promoting equitable learning opportunities, cultivating healthier families, and establishing a stronger community. The program aims to unite the community through shared resources, working partnerships, and open, collaborative communication.

Batavia Community Schools, located at 80 Union Street, also includes a Family and Community Engagement Center run by District Social Worker Julie Wasilewski. The Center hosts a Community Closet, which provides free clothing, hygiene products, food, and household items to those in need. The Center is also set up for meetings, computer access, and a children’s reading area.

Additional information on our Batavia Community Schools can be found here.

Comments
October 22, 2021 - 7:00pm
posted by Joanne Beck in batavia, City Schools, news.

City schools officials are on a journey to dole out warm welcomes, and they’re taking Batavia Blue Devils on board for the ride.

Or make that, onboarding: an effort that more companies and organizations are making to fully integrate new employees.  For Batavia City School District, this means tours, group sessions to complete required paperwork, and more down-to-earth greetings, says Trisha Finnigan, executive director of operations.

“When inviting them for an interview or screening, it starts with ‘thank you for applying to become a member of the Blue Devils family,’” she said during Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. “We start with that notion that we are a family from the get-go.”

Unlike traditional orientations, usually done in groups to review policies and procedures, onboarding is to acclimate new hires and ensure “they have access to the things they need from the onset,” Finnigan said. Whereas orientations are typically a one-time event, onboarding will be a process of 12 or more months, she said. 

“It’s a process of integrating new employees over that period of time,” she said.  

An informational page of new employees, or those that moved into different positions, and their photos will be included in this effort, she said. People will better be able to place names with faces and know those who work in other school buildings, she said. 

Finnigan is scheduling one-on-one meetings with new employees to find out what they liked about the hiring process and what could have been done differently, she said. 

According to Glassdoor research, a great employee onboarding program can improve employee retention by 82 percent. Human Capital Institute states that 87 percent of employers credit buddy programs for boosting new hire proficiency. Batavia’s onboarding agenda includes a mentoring buddy, Finnigan said. 

The board later approved a slate of new employees, all of which will get to know the rest of the Blue Devils family soon enough. 

Other board approvals went to an inter-municipal agreement between Livonia Central School District and the Batavia district for shared remote/digital learning and a revised agreement with Mary Cariola Children’s Center.     

Comments
October 22, 2021 - 2:18pm
posted by Joanne Beck in City Schools, news, Batavia Middle School, batavia.

Costs are going up with unexpected elevator repairs at Batavia Middle School, as city Board of Education members voted Thursday to approve a transfer of $212,000 from the repair reserve fund. 

Business Administrator Scott Rozanski had reviewed the issues and scope of work at the Sept. 19 board meeting, with the vote to occur this month. Members unanimously and without discussion agreed to the transfer for what Rozanski deemed “the worst-case scenario.” 

The elevator stopped working in March. Board members had approved an initial transfer of $65,000 for anticipated repairs by Otis Elevator Company in May, Rozanski said. A hydraulic cylinder had ceased to operate and work was to begin then, he said, but supply chain issues delayed it for a while. Work eventually began to repair the cylinder, however, there was an obstruction that prevented anything to continue. 

Otis Elevator proposed three phases to be used as needed: Phase I would involve cleaning out the hole, removing the pipe, and continuing the necessary work. If the cylinder casing is good, the issue should be resolved, Rozanski said, and the repair could be completed. The price tag for this first phase would be $35,000.

If it is determined that the casing is bad, then they will move on to Phase II for a new casing and another $26,000. Phase III is the “worst-case scenario” of the first two solutions failing, he said. Work will expand to include redrilling the hole, removing all of the debris, and putting in a hoisting beam, all for an extra $86,000 on top of the other two-phase costs. All totaled, it would be an additional $147,495.

The board’s vote on Thursday changed the original transfer from $65,000 to $212,000 to cover all three options if necessary, Rozanski said. That would leave an available balance of $86,703 in the repair reserve, he said. 

At that September meeting, Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping added that the district’s construction manager obtained second opinions on the recommended work and didn’t just go with Otis Elevator’s proposal.

“This isn’t just a one-company idea,” he said.

The board also approved Campus Construction Management’s proposed cost of $3,875 to conduct a feasibility study on the potential renovation expenses of Batavia Middle School. 

In other matters, School board members received some good news during the district’s annual audit Thursday. Christian Townes of Freed Maxick CPAs said the firm issued an “unmodified opinion” for the school district. 

 “Which is the highest level of assurance that we can provide,” she said.

The overall rating, having no significant deficiencies and having no material misstatements is “a testament” to the hard work the district invests into its financial-related statements, she said. 

“Financially, the district is in good shape,” she said. “Overall, you had a really great audit this year. It went smoothly and there are no negative matters to report to you.”

The board voted to accept and approve the final audited report, basic financial statements, and audited extra classroom activity financial statements ending June 30, 2021. 

Comments
October 20, 2021 - 2:52pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, audit, batavia.

Freed Maxick CPAs representative Christian Townes is expected to review the city school district’s audit during a presentation to the Board of Education this week.

The board’s meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Batavia High School’s library, 260 State St., Batavia. 

The board is slated to accept and approve the final audited report, basic financial statements, and audited extra classroom activity financial statements ending June 30, 2021. 

Time is allotted for public comments before the audit and several other presentations from district officials: Trisha Finnigan with an operations update; Scott Rozanski with a financial summary report; Kylie Tatarka with a student ex-officio report; and Scott Bischoping with an interim superintendent’s update.

Other orders of business include votes to approve several personnel-related retirements, resignations, leaves of absence, transfers, and new hires; a Memorandum of Agreement between the Batavia Custodial Association and the city school district; and an agreement between the district and Otis Elevator Company for the repair of the middle school elevator.

An inter-municipal agreement between Livonia Central School District and the Batavia district for shared remote/digital learning; and a revised agreement with Mary Cariola Children’s Center will also be up for a vote. 

The board is also expected to discuss and vote on a proposal from Campus Construction Management to conduct a feasibility study on the potential renovation costs of Batavia Middle School. The proposed cost is $3,875 and would include the impact a renovation would have on other district buildings. 

Board meetings may also be viewed online at:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8JI99xyBJt1sGdRzmCW2Kg

Anyone who would like to speak during a meeting may complete this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScyKRcezlrZtf_o2bN8j7DyfLhYxYrDfGl3tYJyoeTJ87ZuKQ/viewform

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