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January 15, 2020 - 12:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, education, schools.


David Chua, Stephen Pribek and Ashley Elmore -- Certificate of Appreciation

Sarah Gahagan has nominated David Chua, Stephen Pribek and Ashley Elmore for a board award. Each of these individuals invested a large chunk of time mentoring and modeling the word "commitment" to the B Squad boys. They did what not everyone does....they SHOWED UP. Each week, two days a week for 20 weeks these volunteers modeled follow through and were able to showcase what "doing what you love" looks like.

Each of these volunteers had something special to offer, a love of running and showed just how important it is to continue doing what you love, even into adulthood when you are busy and "life" takes over. Chua was a soft spoken guiding force of optimism and motivation, whereas Pribek could always add a science lesson into our running and truly teach us something new every single practice. His humor was a favorite with the boys. And Elmore is a ray of light. She is positive, fun, and encouraged the boys to always be their best under any circumstance. She is a true leader who shines from the inside out.

This program is only able to be successful because of the volunteers. We need to ensure safety while running and the more adults we have, the safer we are and the more boys we can accept within this program.

Volunteering is something not many do these days and it is valuable and appreciated and for this they all deserve to be recognized.


Carlos Colon -- Certificate of Appreciation

The English as a New Language faculty nominate Carlos Colon for a Board of Education award because of his dedication to our district and students. Anyone who knows Carlos would use words like friendly, easy going, helpful, and caring to describe him. Colon's official job title is maintenance staff, however he frequently uses his time to help others outside this requirement.

Most notably, Colon has helped countless times this year alone in translating needs, concerns, and important information between teachers or administration, and parents who speak only Spanish. He does this because he knows the parents and teachers struggle to understand each other using only a translation app, and he doesn't want something important to be misconstrued due to a technical error.

He has also been called upon when our Spanish-speaking students needed a familiar face and language to calm them down. He has talked kids down from metaphorical ledges more than once, and helped the students come to a more peaceful place so that teachers could have a conversation with students. One student even shadows him as he works, as an incentive for good behavior.

Other students also look up to Carlos, as a friend, mentor, and a person they can trust. Colon embodies the phrase “above and beyond,” all in the hopes of helping our students be successful and understood. For these reasons, we believe Colon is well deserving of recognition for his work by the Board of Education.

Nominated by the ENL Department Staff.

Jenna Mrzywka (pronounced Majifka), Trina Cox, Addison Marino, Chelsea Cummings, Courtney Turcer and Shawn Chrysler.


Jim Jacobs -- Certificate of Appreciation

Jacobs recently came back out of retirement to fill in as Interim Director of Facilities. He stepped back in and it was as if he had never left. His knowledge and experience was instrumental in our schools opening smoothly and safely this year as the Capital Project created many changes to the District. Working closely with him, I saw first hand his continued dedication to make our schools the best they can be for our students and staff. It was a pleasure working with him again. Thank you, Jim!

Anonymous nomination.

Information and photos submitted by the school district.

December 18, 2019 - 11:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify.

anibalsolerbcsdsuper2019.jpgPress release:

The Batavia City School District’s Board of Education (BOE) has named Anibal Soler Jr. as the district’s next superintendent. Soler Jr. is set to begin on Jan. 20.

Patrick Burk, Batavia City School District’s Board President stated, “The board is confident that Anibal Soler Jr. will lead our district as we work together to deliver the best education possible for our students. Our search process narrowed the field to three excellent candidates. We value all of the input from our stakeholders and community members.

"With his dedication, enthusiasm and knowledge, our board feels that Anibal has the educational capacity and attributes to move us forward. We are united in making Batavia City Schools the best district for our students and we feel that we are making the right decision in hiring Anibal.”

Soler Jr. is the associate superintendent of Strategic Alignment and Innovation for the Buffalo Public Schools, New York state’s second-largest school district, a position he has held since 2018. In this role, he oversees four areas: adult education, district athletics, the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, and the district school improvement strategy known as Strong Community Schools, which encompasses 11,000 students and 21 schools across the City of Buffalo. This Strong Community Schools effort has moved persistently struggling or failing schools to good-standing rating by the New York State Education Department.

From 2016 until 2018 Soler Jr. was the principal of North Park Academy, an elementary school in the Buffalo Public School District. In this role, he led a staff of more than 50 and 250 students and supervised all instructional and operational aspects of this Pre-K through 8 community school.

From 2009-2016, Soler Jr. was the principal of East High School, the largest comprehensive high school in the Rochester City School District, with between 1,500 to 2,000 students and a staff of almost 250. Through his leadership, the school was removed from the New York State Education Department’s Persistently Dangerous list in 2011.

Soler Jr. serves as an adjunct professor at Canisius College in Buffalo. He began teaching in 2000 as an art teacher at Thomas Middle School in the Rochester City School District.

“I wish to thank the Batavia Board of Education for offering me this exciting opportunity to be the next Superintendent of Batavia City Schools," Soler Jr. said. "I am deeply honored and humbled to be selected to lead your high-quality school system. I also look forward to joining and serving the amazing students, parents, talented staff, and community partners of the Batavia City Schools.

"Together, we will continue to make Batavia City Schools a premier district that effectively serves and supports all students and families.”

Soler Jr. holds a Bachelor of Science from Daemen College, a master’s degree from Nazareth College and Certification in School Administrator and School District Administration from St. John Fisher College. He also holds a certification as a New York State School Administration Supervisor. Soler Jr. is currently enrolled in the doctorate program in Educational Leadership at the University of Rochester.

Kevin MacDonald, district superintendent of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, acted as the search consultant and noted that the search process was a true collaboration between the Board of Education, district staff, and community.

October 9, 2019 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in van detta stadium, batavia, City Schools, news.

A policy proposal submitted by Michael Bromley, Batavia City Schools athletic director, received some push back from Board of Education President Patrick Burk at Tuesday's school board meeting after Bromley said community organizations would be able to use the new Van Detta Stadium for free.

It's not that Burk opposes free use of school facilities, he said, but he claimed that to allow free use of Van Detta while groups must pay a fee at certain times to use other school facilities isn't fair.

Burk noted that the school district changed its policy some time ago based on state education law to charge a fee for use of facilities at times when school custodians are not on the premises.

Custodians are at school facilities from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year and until 3 p.m. on weekdays during the summer and on holiday breaks.

"People may think I don't want community groups using Van Detta Stadium but that's not the case," Burk said. "I think there is a double standard if they're allowed to use it for free if others are being charged a fee."

Burk runs a nonprofit dance studio that uses school facilities and must pay a fee. He said the Genesee Symphony Orchester and the Rotary Club, among others, were "forced out" of the school district buildings when the district started charging fees.

Roxanne Choate, chairwoman of the GSO board, confirmed in an email today that the GSO stopped using the high school auditorium because the fee for its use was $500 per concert. The rural districts, in contrast, she said, charge $150. The orchestra does not pay for use of the bandroom for rehearsals since those take place on weeknights during the school year.

Burk reiterated this morning that he isn't seeking a way for the district to collect fees for use of Van Detta. He would rather see no fees charged to any community organization based in Batavia that would like to use school facilities during non-school hours.

"To me, it's a matter of removing the stadium usage fees, then the building usage should fee should also be removed," Burk said.

The Batavian has sought clarity on any such state law from the State Department of Education and has not yet received a response.

The plan presented by Bromley, which was based on conversations with Chris Dailey when he was superintendent and Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping contemplates three tiers of usage for the stadium.

Local groups, such as the Batavia Bulldawgs, could use it for free -- as they have been so far this year. Section V and the state athletic association would pay a fee sufficient to cover all staff costs for regional and statewide championships and other events. High schools from outside the county would also be able to request use of the facility for special events.

If community groups wanted to use the concession stand and benefit financially from concession sales, they would have to provide the staff and their own food and drink, in their own ice chests, for sale. For regional and state events, the school district would run the concessions with the proceeds going to school fundraisers.

The proposal is pending while district officials research what they can legally do regarding outside use of school facilities.

There should not be any effect, while the decision is pending, on planned events, including an anticipate Section V playoff game for Notre Dame on Oct. 26, nor a state championship tournament for eight-man football.

June 21, 2019 - 3:08pm
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Jeff Musial from Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics was at Jackson School on Thursday morning showing off some of the exotic live animals he keeps for educational purposes.

May 14, 2019 - 6:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in van detta stadium, batavia, news, notify, City Schools, Batavia HS.


The stands are up, the turf is in and it looks like the Batavia Blue Devils will indeed have a new stadium in time for fall football as workers tighten bolts and sew up seams in coming days before the oval track around the field is installed.

The new stadium, replacing the 70-year-old Van Detta Stadium, is part of a $27 million district-wide capital improvement project approved by voters two years ago that includes upgrades at all three school sites.






May 8, 2019 - 7:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, schools, education, notify.


Voters in the Batavia City School District will be asked on May 21 to approve a budget of $50,518,573, with a projected increase in the tax levy of 2.93 percent.

The Board of Trustees approved the proposed budget Tuesday night, following a public hearing, sending it to the voters for final approval before the 2019-2020 school year.

Spending in the district will drop 3.20 percent, or more than to $1.6 year-over-year if voters approve the budget.

The proposed tax rate is $22.06 for 2019-2020, up from $21.67 this year.

Voting will take place on Tuesday, May 21, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Robert Morris building and Batavia High School.

As part of the public hearing, Superintendent Chris Dailey, in his final budget hearing with the district (he's taken a job with the Gates Chili Central School District) shared a good deal of detail about the district.

This year, there are 2,377 students enrolled, and though the district provides free breakfast and lunch to all students, under government guidelines for free and reduced-price lunches, 59 percent of the district students qualify.

The attendance rate is 95 percent. Dailey said that is the highest in the area.

"It doesn't hurt that students know they are getting two free meals a day," Dailey said. "They know they're going to eat at least twice." 

There are 259.4 teachers in the district, 122 teachers aides and clerical employees, 39 maintenance staff, four assistant principals, four principals, five people in IT, 24 in nutritional services, and seven in the central office.

The BHS graduation rate is 92 percent. That is, again, one of the highest in the area, Dailey said.

In the coming year, the district will add a Batavia police officer as a school resource officer.

Some of the programs in the district that are not mandated by the state but that Dailey said the community demands:

  • Kindergarten
  • K-12 art classes
  • K-5 music
  • Instrumental lessons starting in the third grade
  • School plays and musicals
  • AP and college credit courses
  • Athletics
  • Extracurricular clubs
  • A college and career center
  • Small class sizes
  • Teachers' aides
May 8, 2019 - 5:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, schools, education.


At Tuesday's school board meeting, the Board of Trustees of the Batavia City School District honored three students with certificates of appreciation for being good students and good classmates.

Top photo: Dominic Darch and Board President Pat Burk.


Amelia Tripp


Sophia Lawrence

April 4, 2019 - 3:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify.

District officials have trimmed more than $1.1 million in proposed spending from February's draft budget for the Batavia City School District. Combined with an additional $500,000 in state aid, it means the proposed 2019-2020 tax levy will stay below that state-mandated tax cap amount and allow local homeowners to get their annual rebate checks.

That's a pretty good deal for Batavia homeowners, who have received an average of $500,000 more in rebates each of the past five years than whatever increase in taxes the school district has initiated for the year.

Voters will be asked to approve the $50.518 million spending plan, which anticipates a tax levy of $19.5 million.

Tax rates won't be set until assessments are done but Business Administrator Scott Rozanski said the early estimate is that local property owners will see a tax-rate increase of 27 cents on each $1,000 of assessed value.

In the search to cut proposed spending, Rozanski said the district will delay $300,000 in technology spending, reduce spending on new library books to the state-aid amount of $24,000, and delay additional equipment purchases for another $19,000 in savings. Some personnel's salaries can be covered by grants.

Last year, the tax levy increased by $444,000 and local residents received rebates on school property taxes of $1.1 million. The three previous years, there was no increase in the levy and taxpayers received cumulative rebates of $424,000, $ $825,506, and $535,194.

The 2014-15 school year was the one year in which the tax levy increased more than rebates, with about a $150,000 difference.

Rebates for local residents are set based on an income formula so people with lower incomes receive bigger rebates proportionally.

Since the tax cap became law, the district has kept the tax levy below the allowable tax cap amount. For the 2019-2020 budget, it will be $331,886 below the potential levy amount.

Over the previous seven years, the district budgets, cumulatively, have been $3.8 million under what the tax levies could have been in those years.

Previously: No significant program cuts anticipated as City School District looks to trim spending by $750K

March 27, 2019 - 6:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools, music, education.
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March 15, 2019 - 4:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, notify.

With each budget revision of the Batavia City School District budget for 2019-2020, Business Administrator Scott Rozanski gets a little closer to trimming $750,000 in spending.

He said school officials are also hoping state aid will increase for the year so the district can keep the property tax levy from growing more than 4.69 percent.

In the latest revision, Rozanski has penciled in $51,118,155 in spending.

He expects about $25 million in state aid, though hoping for more, and local revenue of more than $27.4 million. That would include spending $3.1 million in fund balance with a tax levy of $20,608,000.

But that tax levy amount would mean an increase of 8.78 percent, well above the legal limit of the state's property tax law.

Over three revisions, Rozanski has already trimmed off more than $500,000 but he still needs to find enough savings to get the levy down to $19,834,000, or lower.

A levy under that amount would allow the budget to pass on a simple majority and ensure district property owners would be eligible for a tax rebate from the state in the fall.

A Tuesday's school board meeting, Rozanski said administrators and department chairs found $166,000 in purchases that could be canceled or delayed.

The district will also be able to save $120,000 by letting positions stand vacant after staff retirements.

When asked by a board member why the positions weren't being filled, Rozanski said, "We need to look at things a little bit differently in how we're operating so we're looking for savings."

Those are the kind of cuts Rozanski continues to look for in the budget. He said he doesn't anticipate any significant program cuts.

Overall, the school district expects to cut spending by more than $2.8 million but $2.1 million of that spending came from a statewide bond initiative five years ago that allowed school districts through the state to improve technology-related infrastructure. The cut in revenue and expenditure offset each other as the program comes to a close.

The other $750,000 that must be cut is the result of an NYS Comptroller audit a few years ago that found the school district was estimating revenue correctly but underestimating expenditures in its annual budgets. This was leading to a growing fund reserve. The reserve had become 7 or 8 percent of overall expenditures when it shouldn't be more than 4 percent. That money, the report noted, should be returned to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts.

The district had a reserve fund for debt service but the Comptroller said debt service should be paid out of the general fund so, over the past two years, the district has been transferring money from the debt service fund to the general fund. The debt service fund is now tapped out, hence the need to cut $750,000 in expenses.

January 17, 2019 - 9:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, batavia.


Esayas Reinhardt -- Outstanding Student Award
Esayas earned this award because of his perseverance in meeting high academic and behavioral expectations. Esayas has overcome many challenges throughout his intermediate years at John Kennedy. He has worked hard to improve academic focus, attention to details and motivation to learn. Esayas has made marked gains in mathematics, reading and writing.

His greatest achievement has been in leadership. Esayas has grown into a successful communicator and leader. He has chosen to consistently do his best in support services, classroom lessons and in social settings. He recently completed his post office position with recognition by Mrs. Whitehead.

He is currently acting as a student council member at John Kennedy Intermediate. Esayas participates in Miss Cole's guided reading groups and includes with Mrs. A's fourth-grade art and Friday Free Choice.

Esayas is both a student and role model for his classmates and the school community. Congratulations on a job well done!

Nominated by Mrs. Neumann.

Eryn Dunn -- Certificate of Appreciation
Eryn admirably represented her school and community by earning the right to participate in the NYSSMA Conference Treble Choir, thanks to her perfect score on her NYSSMA vocal solo the previous spring.

The NYSSMA conference brings together the best high school singers and musicians from across the state to take part in four days of rehearsals and concerts each year in Rochester.

Eryn went to the Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 29, to register for the event and took part in hours of rehearsals over the next few days, culminating in a concert on Saturday evening at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater. The concert was absolutely breathtaking, and Eryn's participation and performance were truly inspiring.

Nominated by Mr. Grillo.


Katrina Cox  -- Outstanding Staff Award
Miss Cox is an English-as-a-New-Language teacher at John Kennedy has extended her role as not only a teacher for her students but also as an ambassador for our new families that have moved into the district and need support in both language and understanding cultural traditions.

Miss Cox can be seen attending family movie nights, book fairs, the Color Run, even trick-or-treating with the families to help them take part in the many traditions that the students can take part in by being students at JK and living in Batavia.

Miss Cox has truly been a steward in welcoming our families and has helped support the families' transition to living here in Batavia and attending our school. Thank you, Trina, for truly taking care of BCSD and always modeling the JK way in building relationships with your both students and their families!

Nominated by Mrs. Cook.


Laura Whipple and Lindsey Heassler  -- Outstanding Staff Award
Laura and Lindsey have worked tirelessly over the last year and a half to restructure reading and book choices for their high-level reading classes. The two have collaboratively adjusted the way developmental reading is taught so that our highest readers are pushed to new levels!

Through their attention to detail, particular literature selection and reflection on connections to ELA and Social Studies curriculum, this pair has created a learning environment for their students that is challenging, connecting and rewarding. It is safe to say that their sixth-grade students are not only becoming better readers, but also more knowledgeable students.

Nominated by Mr. Sutton.

January 16, 2019 - 3:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, City Schools, schools, education, news, batavia.


Sources of Strength is a suicide prevention program at Batavia High School that trains volunteer students to provide peer-to-peer assistance or help guide students who might otherwise be unwilling to talk with an adult to guide them to the right adult.

Currently, at Batavia HS, there are 10 adult advisers and 43 peer leaders.

Five of those peer leaders made a presentation about the program to the Board of Trustees Tuesday night.

The program also brings in campus speakers from Mental Health, GCASA, the Youth Bureau, and the YMCA.

Last month, peer leaders volunteered at the NYS Veterans Home, making Christmas cards with residents for armed service members overseas.

Training was provided by founders of the organization from Denver.

Students participating in the presentation Tuesday were Lily Whiting, AT Thatcher, Gavin Tucker, Stephanie Dibble, and Ben Best, with adult advisers Kelly Deneka and Heidi Meides.

January 16, 2019 - 3:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in art, schools, education, City Schools, batavia, news.


People really should attend the City School District's annual art show in March at the Richmond Memorial Library, Superintendent Chris Dailey said after art teacher Amanda Antonucci provided a department review Tuesday night at the Board of Trustees meeting.

"It's amazing what our kids produce," Dailey said.

This year the art show will feature a districtwide project: art students are drawing portraits of just their eyes. The pair of eyes will be displayed side-by-side on one long wall.

The opening night reception will be held March 15.

Antonucci went through several projects students are working on at schools in the district, including the fourth-annual monster swap project, where elementary students draw a monster and high school students make a sculpture of those monsters.

"It's my favorite project," Antonucci said.

Teachers at Jackson, John Kennedy, and the Middle School are all integrating STEM into their art instruction.

This includes learning about nature through art, using perspective to learn math and geometry, and science with Lego-related projects.

Dom Grazioplene is the most recent student selected for a solo art show at GO ART!, with an opening reception Thursday night.

There are art appreciation nights planned in May for Jackson and the high school and in May the middle school will host its annual human rights activists project.

December 5, 2018 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify.

Students in the Batavia City School system are showing slow, steady progress in proficiency on that state's standardized tests, Molly Corey, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction, told trustees Tuesday night during her report.

One way Corey tracks the district's progress is a comparison to scores in other small city school districts.

For the second year in a row, Batavia ranks #1 in eighth grade in the English Language Assessment, and first in seventh grade, compared to 14th a year ago. The district is second in third, fifth and sixth grades and fourth in grade four.

For math, the district is second in third grade, first in fourth, fourth in fifth, third in sixth, fifth in seventh, and in grade 12, eighth.

There are 15 other schools in the ranked comparison, though the names of the schools are blanked out in Corey's report.

Overall, Corey indicated she is happy with the improved performance of district students.

"I’m a believer having continual improvement," Corey said. "Though we want things to change dramatically, it’s that slow, steady climb that will get us there."

In ELA performance, the district is showing improvement in grades three through eight, with grade three going from 22 percent proficiency in 2012-13 to 46 percent this year. Grade four, has gone from 34 percent to 39 percent, grade five, 28 to 32 percent, grade six, 32  to 47 percent, grade seven, 26 to 35 percent, and grade eight, 35 to 45 percent. 

In math, there's an improvement at every grade level except eighth grade. For third grade, from 25 percent to 55 percent; grade four, 37 to 64 percent, grade five, 27 to 42 percent, grade six, 17 to 43 percent, grade seven, 24 to 35 percent.

In eighth grade, the students have gone from 10-percent proficiency to 8 percent, though the eighth-grade students achieved 18 percent in 2014-15 and 21 percent in 2015-16.

To help improve math performance, Corey is planning on taking a leadership team to a seminar at Stanford University where a nationally recognized math teacher will provide instruction on deep mathematical thinking. The goal she said is to make mathematical thinking a bigger part of the learning culture in the district.

"We have a solid team throughout the district that got us here and we want to be thinking about what we can do above and beyond to change that culture, to change that mindset, and it starts with the leadership team," Corey said. "We have our dream team here in Batavia and I'm excited to see what is going to happen in each and every building."

December 5, 2018 - 4:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, vision 2020, news.


Marco Marascio, project manager for Campus Construction Management Group, provided the trustees of the Batavia City School District an update Tuesday on construction projects that are part of the Vision 2020 capital improvement plan, which voters approved in March.

In addition to demolition of Van Detta Stadium (top photo), the foundation is being dug for the new locker rooms, while across the street, the playground is being moved and replaced with a new parking lot. At John Kennedy School, the foundation has been laid for the classroom expansion.

The $26.7 million in districtwide projects are being completed without an increase in local property taxes.

Photos courtesy Marco Marascio.


October 15, 2018 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, batavia.

School district officials, staff and local elected leaders were on hand this morning at John Kennedy School for the official ground breaking of the City Schools' $26.7 million capital improvement project, Vision 2020.

The project includes a number of significant upgrades to all of the school facilities in the district as well as a new sports complex at Union and Richmond, the current site of Van Detta Stadium, in Batavia.

Below, Board President Pat Burk, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and Superindentent Chris Dailey.


September 28, 2018 - 5:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, John Kennedy, news, schools, education.

Press release:

On Thursday, Sept. 27, at Jackson Primary School, a first-grade student left the building and started walking home. School officials immediately instituted their Emergency Procedures and contacted the police.

The child was located shortly thereafter and was returned safely to school.

The District immediately reviewed its procedures to determine how this incident occurred and have made the necessary changes. Student safety is the top priority in The Batavia City School District and will always take the appropriate measures to protect them.

September 13, 2018 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, news, Le Roy, batavia, City Schools, Pavilion.

Press release:

New York State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has announced today the approval of Smart School Investment Plans for three school districts in Genesee County, including $2,543,552 for high-tech security and school connectivity. The funding is part of the Smart Schools Bond Act.

“Our children have unlimited potential to succeed, but only if our school districts get their fair share of state dollars,” Ranzenhofer said. “This investment will turn that potential into reality by ensuring Batavia City, Le Roy and Pavilion schools get the best resources to foster student success in a global economy.”

High-tech security funding has been authorized in the amounts of $1,940,585 for Batavia City School District and $348,300 for Pavilion School District. Le Roy School District has been approved for $254,667 in school connectivity funding.

Schools can invest these funds in classroom technology, school connectivity, and high-tech security upgrades to better prepare students for success in the 21st century. 

“The Batavia City School District is going to use SSBA funds to install and upgrade high tech security to assure the safety and well-being of our students and staff in all buildings to assist in maintaining a safest possible learning environment. We are planning on installing new card readers, new door contacts, electronic door strikes, wireless locksets, fixed high-definition cameras, door closers, and motion detectors," said Batavia City School District Superintendent Christopher J. Dailey.

"These improvements will allow our focus to remain on student learning while creating a safe environment for our students and staff to work, learn and grow,” 

Pavilion Central School Superintendent Kenneth J. Ellison said “Pavilion Central Schools will use the recently approved Smart School Investment Plan funds to upgrade our video security system to provide a safe and secure learning environment. The existing system was installed many years ago has limited coverage and minimal storage capacity.

"Our goal is to upgrade our system and expand coverage in all areas. These funds will make it possible to cover all targeted areas on campus with a state of the art camera security system."

The Smart Schools Review Board is responsible for approval of the plan. In 2014, voters approved the $2 billion statewide school investment to finance educational technology and infrastructure.

September 12, 2018 - 6:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, batavia.

The new City Schools property tax rate is not quite a zero-percent increase for 2018-19, but it's close.

Business Administrator Scott Rozanski told the board of trustees last night that property owners this year will be asked to pay $21.495880 per $1,000 of assessed value.

That's an increase of .00849 percent over, or not even percent, over the 2017-18 rate.

Last May, voters approved a tax levy of $18,945,404 but the district can't set the tax rate to achieve that levy until properties have their final assessed value for the year.

The rate increase isn't even two-tenths of a cent compared to last year and will amount to a 14-cent increase on homes assessed at $100,000.

For the fifth-straight year, homeowners in the district will be eligible for a STAR rebate.

The tax rate has decreased an average of 3.5 percent over the past two years.

Tax bills will be mailed out to residents by the end of September.

August 31, 2018 - 2:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify.


Learning to get along has always been one of the toughest challenges for schoolchildren and when children fight, it's disruptive to a school's instructional environment.

Educators in the City School District think they've found a better way to help children avoid angry resentments and reduce lost class time because of conflicts.

Administrators and teachers have been trained in the practices of peace circles and restorative conversations. The practices are being used in all four of the district's schools.

"It aligns with our districtwide model on promoting social-emotional learning," said Kia Evans, principal at Jackson Elementary. "At our level, with 5-year-olds, social-emotional learning for us means helping kids learn to process very, very big emotions, helping them deal with different situations; helping them come up with the words to articulate it instead of some of the negative behaviors that are attached to it."

Currently, the district has a pretty young crop of principals. Ashley John Grillo is entering his third year at Batavia Middle School; Paul Kesler was principal at John Kennedy but is entering his first full year at Batavia High School; Evans is entering her second year at Jackson; and Amanda Cook took over at John Kennedy Intermediate in the second half of last year.

But a test of whether an innovative program is really working is whether its proponents would carry it with them if they changed employers and all four principals said, about peace circles and restorative conversations, yes, they would, absolutely.

"What’s nice about those things is you get kids talking about those things and then they start writing about them and it just flows nicely," Grillo said.

Grillo said the practices of the peace circle aren't just used in conflict situations. Students also get a chance to use them and learn from them in academic situations.

"In the science lab, you have hypothesis and conclusion, and as you go around the circle, they're all going to have different results in some cases," Grillo said. "Then they can come up with a consensus in class and decide, what is the main takeaway from doing this activity. We call those academic circles but those fall on the same protocols as doing peace circles or a restorative circle."

A peace circle usually involves an entire class and at least one adult facilitator (though at the higher grades students can become their own facilitators). An object, such as a ball, is used -- the peace object -- and only the person holding it is allowed to speak. The students are encouraged to talk about what's bothering them in respectful ways and what concerns them about a particular situation. There are guidelines to follow but the students respond well, even at the younger grade levels, the principals said.

"It forces you to listen and process and a lot of times if you’re still upset and you're passed the ball, you might say pass," Evans said. "But the next time it comes around, you’ve heard and you’ve had an opportunity to process things, you can go further. Sometimes the person who was upset never contributes but it still feels like a healing process."

Grillo said a peace circle is a safe setting with rules of engagement and the students respect the protocols.

“I’ve seen it work beautifully," Grillo said.

Peace circles are also a way of building a sense of community among students.

"Teachers are using it to set values," Cook said. "This is a classroom community. We are all learners. How are we going to best take care of our classroom?"

Restorative conversations more often take place at the high school level, Kesler said. They usually involve a student who has been the subject of disciplinary action but the conversations are a chance to resolve conflicts once the disciplined student returns to class.

"It really does allow both parties to share how they feel they've been harmed what express what they would like to see as the intended outcome," Kesler said.

Kesler said not all of the BCSD teachers have been trained in peace circles. Many have taken the one-day seminar, several others have been through the full, three-day training session during a summer break.

As evidence students respond to it, Evans recalled the time a student saw a friend being mistreated in a hallway before class and he came to the teacher and requested a peace circle.

"He was in first grade," she said.

It might seem like peace circles take away from precious classroom academic time, but all four principals said the time spent on peace circles is a good investment.

"Your return on that time you’ve invested in a peace circle is going to pay back 10, 20 fold because you’ve already laid that groundwork," Cook said.

If small conflicts fester, other kids start picking sides and egging on the main antagonists. That's what administrators and teachers are trying to avoid.

"That 15 minutes is well spent," Evans said, "because later on the teacher has to address the behavior or address situation that could have been mitigated with a peace circle. That will cost more time academically."

The main data point the principals have to know protocols are working is the number of referrals to the principal's office. At his school, Grillo said referrals are down 50 percent.

"I really feel a big part of that, I’m not saying it’s the only answer but a big part of that is the restorative practices that the two assistant principles, the counselors, myself, and the teachers are all using," Grillo said. "We try to really get control of student issues and be proactive instead of reactive. I always feel that secondary education is reactive when it comes to discipline and I feel like we’ve turned that tide at the middle school."

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