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November 7, 2012 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, City Schools, educaiton.

Announcement:

Due to the pending sale of the Administration Building at 39 Washington Ave., the Batavia City School District Administration Offices will be relocated to Batavia High School, 260 State St., starting Friday, Nov. 9.

The offices will all be accessible through the State Street parking lot.

Superintendent/Personnel -- Room 48

Registration/Curriculum -- Room 40

Student Services -- Room 43

Buildings & Grounds -- Room 41

Business -- Room 45

Boardroom -- Room 49

All phone numbers and extensions will remain the same. Any questions, please call 343-2480, ext. 1000.

October 30, 2012 - 8:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools.

Electrical wires rubbing against a tree limb early this morning sparked a small fire at Washington and Ross streets, which led to a power outage for the area and the closure of all Batavia City Schools.

The location is directly in front of Batavia Middle School.

The school district posted this statement on its Web site this morning: "All of the schools in the Batavia City School District are closed today, October 30, due to a power line malfunction."

The fire and school closure were perhaps the most significant overnight event as a result of what was left of Superstorm Sandy passing over Genesee County.

There were only a few trees down, some power loss -- at one point, more than 1,800 National Grid customers were without power -- and a couple of utility poles fell.

The current city outage effects 178 customers. There is also an outage is South Byron for 49 customers and another in East Bethany for 23 customers.

National Grid crews are also working in Darien this morning to restore power to fewer than five homes.

As Sandy winds down, the forecast for Genesee County over the next six hours is for cloudy and windy conditions with scattered rain showers. Winds will blow east-northeast at 20 to 25 mph.

A flood watch remains in effect until noon.

The other storm damage early this morning in the city was a window was blown out on the front of Falcone Electric Supply Co., on West Main Street.

October 25, 2012 - 1:45pm
posted by Kathie Scott in batavia, City Schools.

District Improvement Plans Shared
As noted by Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio at previous Board meetings, the District did not meet New York State’s proficiency benchmarks for one subgroup of students and, as a result, has been identified as a Focus District which is required to choose at least one school on which to focus efforts toward improvement. Subgroups are groups of at least 30 students who share commonalities of race, ethnicity, economical disadvantage, disability, or of being English language learners. Because the Middle School has the greatest number of students in the specified subgroup identified by the State, it was chosen as the Focus School. Mrs. Puzio emphasized that the three-year Focus District process presents an opportunity to concentrate on closing the gap between the performance of all students and students who are members of sub-groups.  Therefore, efforts toward improvement will be district-wide in their scope and will address the needs of all students who are not yet proficient. 

Mrs. Puzio and Batavia Middle School Principal Sandy Griffin presented information about the three-year plans to the Board.

   In order to be removed from the list of Focus Districts, schools must meet all the participation requirements in English language arts (ELA) and math for all accountability groups, have a combined Performance Index, or PI, (a value from 0-200, with 0 meaning that no students are meeting standards and with 200 meaning that all students are exceeding standards) in ELA and mathematics for the identified subgroup that exceeds the statewide benchmark for two consecutive years, achieve a combined PI in ELA and math in grades 3-12 of 122 during those two consecutive years, and have no other subgroup’s PI fall below the statewide benchmark.

More after the jump (click on the headline):

October 12, 2012 - 1:00pm
posted by Kathie Scott in batavia, schools, education, City Schools.

Annual External Audit Report Presented

David Mancuso of Freed Maxick, CPAs, PC, presented a summary of their audit of the basic financial statements of the Batavia City School District for the fiscal year that ended June 30, indicating that there were no significant, unusual or controversial transactions or accounting practices.  

   Some specific points from the report and presentation follow. 

  • The district currently maintains an A1 credit rating from Moody’s Credit Corporation, which is among the highest in Genesee County. 
  • Amid uncertain economic times, the district has been successful in efforts to spend and budget conservatively, as well as to plan for the long-term by setting funds aside in reserve for specific areas of concern: unemployment insurance, retirement contribution, repairs, and employee benefit liability. In an economic climate where the future is likely to see reduced state aid as well as increased expenses, continued economic conservatism is to be encouraged.   
  • The district total tax levy has increased only $473,599 or 2.97 percent since 2007-08 or an average yearly increase of $94,720 or averaging 0.59 percent, while at the same time maintaining most of our educational program offerings by restructuring its educational plan and building footprint.  
  • The district finished the year with an unexpected general fund surplus of approximately $451,519. This was primarily due to conservative budget estimates in difficult-to-predict categories such as to special education services, foster care tuition, and utilities; being able to cover some budgeted payroll costs with money from grants, delaying purchasing and savings in utilities because of a rather mild winter. The district was able to put this money into the retirement contribution reserve to help with future increases in employer contribution rate increases which are tentatively anticipated to rise over 18 percent for 2013-14 and 13 percent for 2014-15. 
  • The unassigned fund balance (formerly referred to as undesignated fund balance) of the district’s general fund was $1,508,767 and this amount was within the state’s limit of 4 percent of the ensuing year’s budget, excluding of the amount designated for the subsequent year’s budget.  

The complete report will be available on the district’s Web site (www.bataviacsd.org): go to the “District” tab for a drop-down menu, scroll down and click on “Business Office,” click on “Financial Reports,” then scroll down to the appropriate report. 

More after the jump, click on the headline.

September 28, 2012 - 11:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools.

Press release:

The Batavia City School District Board of Education’s Public Relations Committee continues to explore cost-effective ways to increase communication with the public and is looking to expand the amount of coverage of district news and accomplishments, the methods of delivery, and opportunities for interaction and feedback.

To help with this, a survey was developed to gather input from a full spectrum of Batavians -- including parents, students, staff, business leaders, and all other community members. The short survey asks about preferences in terms of what kind of communication is important as well as what are the most accessible means for receiving information and responding to district news.

In addition to the survey being available on the district Web site where it can be completed in a few minutes (http://www.bataviacsd.org/news.cfm?story=958&school=0), a paper copy has been included in all school newsletters and will be in the A+ Batavia Communicator newsletter scheduled to be in district residents’ mailboxes the first weekend of November.

Completed surveys can be returned to any school office, mailed to the Administration Building (39 Washington Ave.) or to the high school (260 State St.), which is where administrative offices are moving. Please mark envelopes with “Attn: Public Relations Committee.”    

Communication with the community we serve is important; we hope you will take a few minutes to share your thoughts so we can better serve you.

May 1, 2012 - 11:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, City Schools.

Voters in the Batavia City School District will be asked to approve a 1.99-percent increase in the tax levy May 15, Superintendent Margaret Puzio said Tuesday following a public hearing on the proposed 2012-13 school district budget.

The budget -- at least on paper -- increases spending to $40,086,732, up $720,687 over the previous year.

But Puzio said the increase can really be attributed to changes in accounting rules.

In fact, district spending will decrease, according to Gary Stich (top photo), who made part of the budget presentation.

The 1.99-percent increase in the levy is still well under -- according to state formulas -- the property tax cap. The district could have increased the levy by 2.59 percent and still been below the cap, Puzio said.

The budget will include an allocation of $330,000 in anticipated state aid to cash reserves, which have beed depleted in recent years because of increased mandated costs and less state aid.

At one time, the reserve was $1.5 million. This year it dropped to $55,000.

The reserve is necessary to help cover expenses when there's no revenue coming in during the summer months, or to deal with budget-breaking, unannounced cuts in state aid, which has happened at least once in recent years.

One of the biggest mandated expenses for the district is payment into the state's teacher retirement fund, which in recent years has gone from a $916,000 contribution to a $1.9 million contribution.

"That's almost $2 million in expense and it has a huge impact on the district," Stich said. "Again, we have no control over it."

About 45 percent of the district's funding comes from state aid, and another 45 percent from local taxes. 

Last year, a big part of the difference was made up by dipping into reserves.

The district will realize cost savings this year from school consolidation, Puzio said.

At the same time, the distirct is restoring some programs cut in the past year, include the Accelerated College Enrollment (ACE) program and some music programs.

To help students compete in the fast-evolving job market where written communication skills are more critical than ever, the district will focus more education resources on core state standards, which means more text study in all classrooms.

New teacher and principal accountability standards are also being implemented, by state mandate, including a requirement that principals spend 70 percent of their time with teachers in classrooms.

Also on the ballot May 15 is a measure to change student transportation rules, putting all middle-school students on the same transportation eligibility standard.

This will mean an additional 120 students will be eligible for bus transportation, but only about half of the current eligible students use school transportation, so the district doesn't know yet how many new riders will use the bus.

The change is necessary because of the school consolidation plan.

There are also five candidates in the election for three school board positions. The candidates are Gretchen DiFante, Phill Ricci, Gail Stevens, Gary Stich and Dennis Warner.

Polls on May 15 are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and locations are John Kennedy Elementary School and Batavia High School.

March 13, 2012 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, City Schools.

Summary of the school board meeting provided by Batavia City School District:

Highlights from the BCSD Board of Education meeting on March 12, 2012:

Parent Shares Concern Regarding Consolidation
A parent addressed the Board of Education, voicing concerns regarding the proposals for consolidation and cutting programs. In regard to consolidation, her concerns were about people losing their jobs and about test scores decreasing as class sizes increased. In addition, claiming that Batavia is growing, she felt the District will need to reverse the decision soon in order to accommodate an increase in students. In regard to cutting programs, she also cited concern for people losing jobs, keeping students involved in productive activities, and providing students withoutlets for accomplishments that enhance their college applications. Her recommendation was to avoid consolidation and cuts to programs, move administration functions to the Middle School (rather than fifth graders), have a voluntary pay freeze, and have staff increase their portion of paying for benefits to 20%.

Students Voice Support for Music Department
Five students addressed the Board to show support for the Music Department. In addition to mentioning the fun and enrichment of participating in musical productions and performances, several emphasized that the District’s music program had helped them identify what they wanted to pursue as a career and had offered opportunities for achievements and recognition that helped them stand out on college applications. Two are pursuing careers in music, with one majoring in Music Education and Performance at Ithaca College, and the other majoring in Fine and Performing Arts at Genesee Community College. Noting that cuts were made to the music department during the past two years, several mentioned that, although they were graduating, they would like underclassmen to have the same opportunities to grow in skill and confidence that they were given. All were particularly grateful and complimentary to music teacher Daniel Grillo, who they said has been an inspiration and mentor as well as a skillful teacher of music.

Update on 2012-2013 Budget Preparation
Business Administrator Scott Rozanski provided an update on the District's preliminary spending plan for the 2012-2013 school year, presenting a “roll-over” budget, or one in which minimal adjustments to the services provided in 2011-2012 (current)school year were made. This roll-over budget amounts to $40,622,313.

As noted previously, one significant change in expenses is an accounting change which affects the budget total but not the tax levy: in the past, instead of budgeting for such expenses as post-retirement and unemployment, those items were charged directly to the reserve funds - regarded somewhat as a sidebar to the budget. Now both are added into the budget figures as both an expense and a revenue, creating a larger number in both columns but no impact on the tax levy. Partly as a result of the accounting change, the budget shows an increase in expenses of $1.256 million or 3.19% over the current 2011-2012 school year. When the accounting change (which represented about two-thirds or $850,000 of the increase), is factored in, the real increase is about $403,000 or 1%.

The consequent tax levy needed to close the gap between roll-over expenditures and lessening revenue from such sources as State Aid, shows an increase of$980,957, or 5.515%. This amount is well over the District’s tax cap limit or threshold of 2.59%.

As mentioned in previous reports and news articles, the Tax Cap legislation is referred to as a 2% Tax Cap, when in reality, the “2%” figure is only one of the factors used in an eig determine each school district's and municipality's allowable tax levy increase that requires simple majority approval. Anything over that allowable limit or threshold requires a supermajority (60%) voter approval to pass. The School District’s Tax Cap Threshold is 2.59%; any higher increase requires a super majority of voter approval.

In order to bring the budget down to within range of a 2% to 2.59% tax levy increase, between $520,074 (for the 2.59% threshold) and $625,241 (for a 2% limit) would need to be cut from expenditures.

In providing direction to Mr. Rozanski on how to proceed with the budget, Board members agreed that preserving programs to whatever extent possible was a high priority. With that in mind, they opted to support a budget that does not exceed the allowable threshold increase of approximately 2.59%. This, they noted, will still require cuts totaling slightly more than a half-million dollars.

Board of Education Legislative Committee Chairperson Patrick Burk indicated that members of the NYS Assembly are working to restore approximately $178 million in aid through a more equitable basic Foundation Aid formula, while members ofthe NYS Senate or working to earmark $200 million in Gap Elimination Adjustment aid. Whether either of those efforts will succeed is unknown, and our budget preparation uses the projected figures released by the governor’s office.

School Consolidation Update
Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio requested that the Board provide direction on the much-discussed consolidation of schools. Weighing the difficulties and reluctance expressed by some families affected by the change against the educational efficiency and benefits of having grade levels in the same building and the financial benefits of being able to preserve more programs for students, the Board adopted the following resolution:

WHEREAS, the Batavia City School District has invested heavily in its facilities as an important vehicle through which it delivers its quality educational program; and
WHEREAS, Board of Education is charged with ensuring that District buildings are being deployed in the most efficient manner in order to provide the best possible educational opportunities for students at the lowest possible cost; and
WHEREAS, the Batavia City School District Board of Education has officially established the Buildings and Grounds Committee as a sub-committee of the Board to make recommendations regarding the condition and use of District facilities; and
WHEREAS, the Buildings and Grounds Committee is composed of a number of individuals including Board of Education members, District administrators, and a certified architect; and
WHEREAS the Batavia City School District Board of Education referred to the Buildings and Grounds Committee (June 7, 2011) the review of a possible building consolidation process that included the possible closing and reorganization of specific buildings for the purpose of increasing efficiency and reducing operational costs; and
WHEREAS, at various times public forums were held to obtain community input related to multiple options for building consolidation; and
WHEREAS, a final report was presented by the Buildings and Grounds Committee to the Board at the February 6, 2012 meeting, recommending the clustering of elementary grades Pre-K through 4 in two elementary buildings and 5th grade at the Batavia Middle School; and WHEREAS, the Board of Education has determined that it is in the best interest of the community to adopt the recommendations contained in the Batavia City School District Consolidation Feasibility Study.
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS - the Robert Morris Elementary School shall close effective June 30, 2012, and Jackson Elementary will be converted to a facility housing primary students in grades Pre-K through 1, and John Kennedy Elementary will be converted to an elementary facility housing students in grades 2through 4, and 5th grade students will be educated at the Batavia Middle School. District administrators and necessary to effectuate the assignment of affected students who previously attended each school to another school building. While details of the plan have yet to be worked out, parents who are registering their child(ren) for kindergarten are still asked to so at their neighborhood elementary school.

Superintendent’s Report Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio reported briefly on several other items:

* Petitions     for election to one of the seats on the Board of Education are now     available and can be picked up in the Administration Building’s Business     Office. * Student     Artwork is on display in Richmond Library, with a celebration of the     artists scheduled for this Friday at 6:50 p.m. * The     Administration Building, currently up for sale, has had many showings,     much interest, but no offers to date. * There     have been inquiries about utilizing one of our school buildings if     consolidation was to take place; now those inquiries can be pursued. * Friday,     March 16, will be a full day of staff development, with the focus being on     implementing the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) adopted by NYS.     The Staff Development focus will be on Common Core Literacy, with specific     attention on “Deconstruction of Common Core Standard” for identifying     learning targets, cognitive load, learning progression, and daily objectives;     “Close Reading” for making sense of complex text; “Building Academic     Vocabulary” for acquiring and comprehending more sophisticated vocabulary;     and “Writing to Respond to a Text-Dependent Prompt” for attending to persuasive and explanatory writing that utilize reasoning and evidence,   organized in logical ways. (The Common Core State Standards Initiative     is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association     Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The     standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school     administrators, and other experts, to provide a common understanding of     what students are expected to learn, and a clear and consistent framework     to help all children become well-prepared for college and the workforce     through rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills.)

Post-Graduation Report
Administrator of Student Assessment/Data Analysis Pam Buresch presented a summary of the District’s Post-graduation Report, obtained through working with the National Students Clearinghouse (NSC), a not-for-profit organization that tracks student enrollment in colleges. Ms. Buresch noted that tracking this information helps the District evaluate our academic programs and curriculum to assess their value in helping District students to be college andcareer ready, to align coursework with college and work expectations, and toensure a rigorous curriculum where students are prepared to succeed in a global economy and society. NSC tracks such things as the percentages of college enrollment; the timetable for enrollment (immediately after graduation orlater); the types of institutions attended - public or private, two-year or four-year; whether the institutions are in-state or out-of-state; the rate of freshman to sophomore year “persistence” (whether students return after freshman year); degree completion rates and timetables; and the most common institutions for enrollment.

Some ofthe findings indicate that college enrollment is typically in the mid-70% range, that our students are more likely to enroll in public institutions, aremore likely to enroll in-state, that enrollment has been higher for four-year institutions than two-year, and overall persistence rate is about 85%.

For more details, the full National Student Clearinghouse report is available on theBatavia City School District web page: http://www.bataviacsd.org/documents.cfmby clicking on the file folder labeled “District Forms and Publications,” then on the file folder labeled “District Information,” then on the document labeled “National Student Clearinghouse Graduation Report.”

District Calendar for 2012-2013
Deputy Superintendent Christopher Dailey announced that the calendar committee finalized the District Calendar for 2012-2013. It is available on the District’s website.

News from Batavia High
Student Ex-Officio Board Member Taylor Harkness reported to the Board that auditions for the High School play are scheduled, and that spring sports are starting. She also passed on a request that the Board look into inequity of improvements that have been made to the VanDetta Stadium site, noting that the boys’ locker room has received some updates and cosmetic improvements while the girls ’locker room has not, and still has, for example, only one bathroom stall. The matter was referred to the Buildings and Grounds Committee which will meet next week.

February 7, 2012 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, City Schools.

Report released by the city school district:

Highlights from the Batavia City School District Board of Education meeting on Feb. 6 include the following:

School Consolidation Update

On behalf of the BOE’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, Board Member Steve Mountain presented their completed feasibility study and a recommendation for consolidation of schools. The report also will be shared with the Budget Ambassadors as they review the district’s preliminary budget  and make recommendations to the board. The committee’s recommendation takes both fiscal and educational progress into account and includes:

-- Selling the Administration Building and relocating staff to available spaces around the District;
-- Utilizing the Jackson Elementary building for students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and grade one;
-- Utilizing John Kennedy for students in grades two through four;
-- Placing grade five students at the middle school;
-- Revising the transportation policy so that all K-8 students who live farther than one mile from their school would be eligible for free busing; and,
-- Maintaining the Robert Morris building, making its classrooms and offices available for rental or lease.

Among the considerations behind their recommendation were the advantages of a “cluster model” for schools in which all students in a specific grade level are in the same building, providing for a more focused and deeper instructional plan. Research indicates that students benefit when curriculum is more consistent, and having all students of each grade in one building will facilitate this consistency as well as regular collaboration and sharing of strategies and resources. It also enables greater balance of class size as well as balancing concentrations of students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students among classrooms.

While this cluster model would also describe the middle school, part of the recommendation is to have fifth-grade classrooms in a different part of that building, set off from the older students. Another suggestion is to create a house model --  a school within a school that has its own educational program, staff and students -- for both fifth- and sixth-graders. The study also noted several nearby districts which currently and successfully have fifth grade as part of their middle schools.

Jackson and John Kennedy elementary were designated as the sites for lower grades after all three of the current elementary buildings were analyzed in regard to number and size of classrooms, parking and parent drop-off/pick-up, bus loops, gymnasiums, cafeterias, library media centers, and size of the school grounds.

In regard to the finances, overall, the committee estimated an anticipated net savings in the first year of slightly more than $1 million. A reduction in staffing would have the greatest impact, followed by lower utility costs for the Robert Morris building. Relocating the Information Technology Department from the Administration Building, which involves moving the fiber optic cables that make up the district’s computer network, would be a one-time expense increase. This is recommended only upon the event of the sale or lease of the Administration Building, in which case the proceeds from the sale or lease could be used to mitigate the impact of the expense. Transportation costs would increase if more students become eligible and if those eligible students use district transportation, but, using current formulas for NYS transportation aid, approximately 90 percent of the costs would be returned the following year. 

BMS Comprehensive Educational Plan

More after the jump (click on the headline to read more)

December 20, 2011 - 6:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools.

A Buffalo-based radio host decided to throw truth to the wind on Tuesday and hand out T-shirts at Batavia High School with a simple message, "Merry Christmas."

The act stemmed from an inaccurate news report by Rochester's News 8 that the school district recently banned "Merry Christmas" and other sectarian religious expressions from the school district.

As The Batavian posted the night News 8's report aired, the district has a decades-old policy about public religious expressions, but the policy also explicitly allows students and facility to engage in personal expressions of faith.

The Batavia Daily News story makes it sound like Batavia City Schools are intolerant of such expressions.

Kathy Weppner, whose program is broadcast at WBEN Radio, 930 AM, said she brought 300 shirts to the high school to support freedom of speech for students and faculty.

...

BHS junior Chelsea Dibble, 16, gave out shirts after she was asked to by Weppner and the four fans she brought with her.

“We think we should be able to wear what we want to wear,” Dibble said.

Dibble said the shirt has to say “Happy Holidays” and not “Merry Christmas” to be worn in  the school.

“I think it’s cruel,” she said.

Of course, according to school policy, Dibble can wear a shirt that says "Merry Christmas" on it.

The school district responded in comments:

1.There is no letter, nor was there ever a letter, sent home to parents that explains BHS policy on teaching about religion and culture.
2. No students were ever told by a teacher that they couldn't talk about Christmas inside the school.
3. It is not against any school rules in the district to wear clothing that has "Merry Christmas" written on it.
4. The policy on religious expression, posted on the website, is the district's policy and is based on state and federal laws, including the First Amendment. It makes no mention of the expression "Merry Christmas."

December 20, 2011 - 11:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools.

 

District Board of Education Meeting

Highlights from the BCSD Board of Education meeting on December 19, 2011, include the following:

Christopher Dailey is Named Deputy Superintendent

The Batavia School District Board approved the appointment of BHS Principal Christopher Dailey as the District’s new deputy superintendent, effective January 1, 2012.  Mr. Dailey will assume the role of superintendent of the District following the anticipated retirement of current Superintendent Margaret Puzio. An interim principal for Batavia High School has not yet been named.

(See related storyhttp://www.bataviacsd.org/news.cfm?story=839&school=0)

Modification & Consolidation of Existing Election Districts

   As discussed at a previous Board of Education meeting (October 17, 2011), Business Administrator Scott Rozanski proposed that the number of polling places for the budget vote be revised for greater cost efficiency and that the election districts be redrawn to correspond to that change.  Instead of three polling places (Robert Morris Elementary, Batavia Middle School, and Jackson Elementary), he proposed that there be two, and that those locations be Batavia High School and John Kennedy Elementary because both have greater ease of access and available parking.

   The recommendation made to and adopted by the Board included changing the voting sites to Batavia High School and John Kennedy Elementary, and that the new election districts be divided by Route 5 so that residents who live north of Route 5 would vote at John Kennedy School, and those who live south of Route 5 would vote at Batavia High School. This would apply to all District residences in the City of Batavia, the Town of Batavia, and the Town of Stafford.

   Following are details of each election district.

Election District Number 1, voting at John Kennedy School (166 Vine Street)…

includes all that part of the school district north of Main Street/Route 5 consisting of:

City of Batavia- Allanview Drive, Allen Street, Alva Place, Bank Street, Batavia City Centre, Belvedere Lane, Bogue Avenue, Bryant Street, Burke Drive, Buxton Avenue, Caroiwood Drive, Chandler Avenue, Charles Street, Chase Park, Clinton Park, Clinton Street, Columbia Avenue, Crescent Court, Dellinger Avenue, Denio Street, Dennis Drive, Douglas Street, E Main Street (odd numbers), East Avenue, Eleanor Place, Ellicott Avenue, Ellsworth Avenue, Elm Street, Eugene Street, Evergreen Drive, Fairmont Avenue, Farwell Drive, Fisher Park, Fordham Drive, Garden Drive, Gateway Drive, Genesee Street, Grandview Terrace, Harrold Square, Hart Street, Hillside Drive, Holland Avenue, Holmes Avenue, Hull Park, Hutchins Place, Jefferson Avenue, Jefferson Square, Kingsbury Avenue, Lacrosse Avenue, Lewis Avenue, Lewis Place, 8351 Lewiston Road, Lincoln Avenue, Macarthur Drive, Main Street (even numbers), Manhattan Avenue, Margaret Place, Miller Avenue, Mix Place, Montclair Avenue, N Lyon Street, N Spruce Street, Naramore Drive, New York Place, Noonan Drive, Norris Avenue, North Park, North Pointe Drive, North Street, Northern Blvd, Oak Street, Olyn Avenue, Park Avenue, 140-175 Park Road, Pickthorn Drive, Porter Avenue, Prospect Avenue, Raymond Avenue, Redfield Parkway, Richmond Avenue, Ross Street, Seneca Avenue, Soccio Street, State Street, Summit Street, Thomas Avenue, Tracy Avenue, Trumbull Parkway, Union Square, Union Street, Vernon Avenue, Verona Avenue, Vine Street, W Main Street (even numbers), Walker Place, Washington Avenue, West Avenue, Wiard Street, Willow Street, Woodcrest Drive, Woodrow Road;

Town of Batavia- Arena Parkway, Bank Street Road, Bennett Heights, Clinton Street Road (4950-5 133, Even 5138-5268), Colonial Boulevard, Commerce Drive, Constable Drive, E Main Street Road (odd numbers), Federal Drive, Lewiston Road (all but #8351), N Bennett Heights, Old Meadow Lane, 8200-8330 Park Road, S Bennett Heights, Seven Springs Road (even numbers), State Street Road, Stringham Drive, Terry Hills Drive, Veterans Memorial Drive, Violet Lane, W Main Street Road (odd numbers);

Town of Stafford- Clinton Street Road (Even 5172-5292), E Lake Road, Horseshoe Lake Road, Main Road (odd numbers), NW Lake Road, Prole Road, S Lake Road, Seven Springs Road (odd numbers), W Lake Road.

Election District Number 2, voting at Batavia High School (260 State Street…

includes all that part of the school district south of Main Street/Route 5 consisting of:

City of Batavia- Adams Street, Apollo Drive, Birchwood Drive, Brooklyn Avenue, Buell Street, Cedar Street, Center Street, Central Avenue, Cherry Street, Chestnut Street, Clifton Avenue, Colorado Avenue, Cone Street, Court Street, Court Street Plaza, Crossman Avenue, Davis Avenue, Dawson Place, Dewey Avenue, E Main Street (even numbers), Edward Street, Elizabeth Street, Ellicott Place, Ellicott Street, Elmwood Avenue, Evans Street, Florence Avenue, Franklin Street, Ganson Avenue, Garfield Avenue, Goade Park, Graham Street, Hall Street, Harvester Avenue, Highland Park, Howard Street, Hutchins Street, Hyde Park, Jackson Avenue, Jackson Street, James Street, Jerome Place, Kibbe Avenue, Law Street, 1-480 Lehigh Avenue, Liberty Street, Linwood Avenue, Madison Avenue, Main Street (odd numbers), Maple Street, Masse Place, McKinley Avenue, Meadowcrest Drive, Mill Street, Morse Place, Morton Avenue, Oakland Avenue, Orleans Avenue, Osterhout Avenue, Otis Street, Pearl Street, Pollard Avenue, Pringle Avenue, Prune Street, River Street, Riverview Parkway, Roosevelt Avenue, S Jackson Street, S Lyon Street, S Spruce Street, S Swan Street, School Street, South Main Street, Spencer Court, Sumner Street, Swan Street, Thorpe Street, 1-3, 4(A,B,F,G), 6 Treadeasy Avenue, W Main Street (odd numbers), Wade Avenue, Walker Avenue, Wallace Street, Walnut Place, Walnut Street, Warren Street, Watson Street, Webster Avenue, Williams Street, Wood Street;

Town of Batavia-Agpark Drive N, Agpark Drive W, Alexander Road, Batavia Bethany Townline

Road, Batavia Stafford Townline Road (even numbers), Broadlawn Avenue, Broadway Road, Creek Road, Donahue Road, E Main Street Road (even numbers), Edgewood Drive, Ellicott Street Road, Fairway Drive, Haven Lane, 4640-8901 Lehigh Avenue, Lovers Lane Road, Pearl Street Road, Putnam Road, Rollin Circle, Rollin Circle E, Rollin Circle W, Rose Road, Shepard Road, South Main Street Road, Treadeasy Avenue, Valle Drive, Victorian Drive, W Main Street Road (even numbers), Woodland Drive, Wortendyke Road;

Town of Stafford- Batavia Stafford Towline Road (odd numbers), Fargo Road, Main Road (even numbers), and Sweetland Road.

Building Consolidation Update

   Board Member Steve Mountain reported that the Buildings and Grounds Committee is continuing its work on investigating building consolidation options by collecting and analyzing the information from the varied studies and meetings. They anticipate bringing a their recommendation to the January Board meeting for discussion, then presenting their recommendation to the Budget Ambassadors. 

   They are also reviewing traffic safety at the schools in regard to parents dropping off  and picking up their children to see what actions are necessary to ensure student safety. In particular, Batavia Middle School, Robert Morris Elementary, and Jackson Elementary continue to be a challenge.

Backpack Food Program Drive

   Superintendent of Schools Margaret Puzio spoke on behalf of the Backpack Program which was started last year in partnership with the United Way and the Salvation Army to provide weekend food supplies for some of our neediest students. Approximately 100 of our students receive a backpack of nutritious nonperishables each Friday to help provide for their needs through the weekend. Initially funded by the United Way, the goal was to have the program sustained through donations so, soon after the program began, the District sponsored a food drive to collect items from students and staff. Thanks to their generosity, enough food was collected to support the program through the end of last school year.

   Mrs. Puzio is hoping for a similar result during this year’s food drive, scheduled for the week of January 9-13.  Donation boxes will be set up at each of the schools as well as at the Administration Building. As part of the drive, admission for the boys basketball home game on January 13 will be free with a donation of at least one food item to benefit the Backpack Program. The boys play the Pittsford Mendon Knights, with JV game starting at 6:15 p.m. and varsity at 7:45 p.m. Suggested items are those that are nutritious and that require little or no preparation such as cereal (individual or 12 oz. boxes), juice boxes, canned soups, macaroni and cheese, applesauce, fruit cups, pudding cups, oatmeal, canned foods (vegetables, spaghettios, etc.), trail mix, cheese and crackers, peanut butter crackers, raisins, peanuts, and fruit snacks. Monetary donations are also welcome. Checks may be sent directly to the Salvation Army, payable to the Salvation Army with a notation for the “Backpack Program” on the memo line.

    “It really is an important program and it’s doing wonders to help families in these tough times,” said Mrs. Puzio.

December 20, 2011 - 11:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools.

Press release:

The Batavia School District Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Christopher J. Dailey as the district’s new deputy superintendent, effective Jan. 1.

He will assume the role of superintendent of the district following the anticipated retirement of current Superintendent Margaret Puzio. Dailey has served as Batavia High School Principal since May 2008.

“At a time when there is a tremendous shortage of quality superintendents and increasing turnover rates, we are extremely fortunate to have an individual that offers us a proven track record, a smooth transition, and is someone with a strong commitment to our community," said Board President Gail Stevens. "Mr. Dailey, in his role as high school principal, has earned the respect of the teachers, students, administration and community."

In 2010, the board identified the need for a succession plan to be put in place for key personnel who were nearing retirement. As part of that plan, Dailey was identified as a strong candidate to succeed Puzio. A process for conducting a new superintendent search had been considered as well, but searches can be expensive in a time of limited resources and sometimes lead to disappointing results.

After conducting extensive interviews with Dailey, each member was confident that the district had the right person internally to continue the district’s success and ensure continuity in these uncertain financial times.

In August, Dailey completed the Transition to Superintendency program through the educational Leadership Institute at Oswego State College. The program orients experienced school administrators to the skills and attitudes needed to become superintendents, according to the program description.

Dailey’s strengths are considerable. He is an excellent communicator who listens well and respects the views of others. His leadership of the high school has fostered pride and inspired a drive for excellence from both staff and students.

Although he is recognized for his strong administrative skills, he has earned multiple awards for his teaching and coaching. His experiences as a social studies teacher and coach in the Rush, Henrietta, Le Roy, and Brighton school districts prepared him well for his role as instructional leader.

This is a great opportunity for the district to carry on many of the initiatives that are under way with continuity in leadership and knowledge. Some examples of initiatives in which he has been involved include: a focus on improvement in student achievement; data driven instructional planning, including assessment analysis and targeted academic interventions; credit recovery and increased graduation rates; establishment of enhanced teacher leadership; alignment of curricula to the new Common Core Standards; and the new teacher and principal APPRs.

“I believe the board made a terrific choice for the district and I look forward with working with Mr. Dailey,” Superintendent Puzio said.

Before joining the administrative team in the Batavia City School District, Dailey was assistant principal in the Churchville-Chili School District. His numerous leadership roles -- including department chair, high school principal, high school assistant principal, and varsity coach -- signal a record of previous school leadership success. This led to consensus among members of the Batavia City School District Board of Education that he will be an excellent district leader.

Dailey holds a B.A. from SUNY Geneseo, and a master's degree and Certificate of Advanced Studies from SUNY Brockport.

For a report on Monday's school board meeting, click here.

December 6, 2011 - 10:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, City Schools.

Submitted by Batavia City Schools:

Highlights from the Batavia City School District Board of Education meeting on Dec. 5, 2011, include the following:

Explanation of the district policy about holidays

Superintendent Margaret Puzio reported that many questions have been asked about our district’s policy on celebrating Christmas. In response, she wrote a short explanation to post on the website along with copies of the actual board of education/district policies that pertain to the topic. For the link to that full message, copy/paste this into your address bar: http://www.bataviacsd.org/news.cfm?story=832&school=0

Enjoy holiday concerts!

In addition to praising last week’s Winter Concert performances by the Morris Chorus under the direction of Mrs. Lisa Gilebarto, and the Jackson Chorus under the direction of Ms. Robin Crowden, Superintendent Puzio encouraged all to attend upcoming concerts around the district.

Click on the headline above to read more: 

October 5, 2011 - 3:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools.

Press release:

The Batavia Board of Education will have a vacancy as of November 1, 2011, and is looking to fill that seat with an interested District resident. The vacancy is a result of the resignation of Andrew Pedro, whose term was due to expire at the end of this school year (June 30, 2012).

To fill the vacancy in the interim, the Board is asking Batavia City School District residents who would be interested in completing Mr. Pedro’s term (November 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012) to send a letter of interest, including their qualifications, by October 14, 2011, 4 p.m., to Scott Rozanski, BCSD Board Clerk, 39 Washington Avenue, Batavia, NY 14020.

Citing changes in his job responsibilities, Mr. Pedro felt he would be unable to fulfill the duties of a Board member to the degree that is needed to be effective and fair to the community that voted for him - particularly in these challenging economic times. He submitted his resignation at the Board meeting on October 3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret Puzio - Superintendent of Schools, Batavia City School District

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

Subject: Letter of Resignation

Margaret - Gail,

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

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

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

Good luck as you continue to move forward!

Sincerely,

Andrew G. Pedro

September 29, 2011 - 5:57pm

The list of consolidation options  for the Batavia City School District briefly got a bit shorter Wednesday, when officials announced the elimination of Option 3, which would have stuffed too many kids in too few classrooms.

Now the number of proposals is bigger than it's ever been.

After unveiling Options 5a and 5b in a news release Wednesday, officials introduced a tentative "Option 6" (above) at their meeting Wednesday night at Batavia High School. The as-yet unofficial plan would build an addition (highlighted in blue) at John Kennedy Elementary school, allowing that building to accomodate all of the district's elementary students. John Kennedy would then become the only elementary school in the district.

Including sub-options 2a, 5a and 5b, there have now been eight announced ideas on how to realign the district and get rid of the Washington Avenue administration building.

"Financially, we're not the only ones in this situation. It's school districts around the country," said Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Jim Jacobs today. "Looking at many different options and seeing what fits best...is a big decision."

Jacobs presented "Option 6" Wednesday night, and further explained it today.

"If we were to create Option 6: if (John Kennedy) was (to be) a K-4 school, we'd need to add 20 classrooms. If it was a K-5, we'd need to add something like 30 classrooms," he said.

Jacobs' rough rendering (above) shows what the project could look like.

"Amazingly, the site can support it," he said.

The addition would be a capital project, meaning it would need voter approval. Jacobs calls the plan viable, but won't yet say if he personally supports it.

"We would have to sit down with the architect, and go over program and space needs, and administrative needs," he said. "Those details need to be worked out, to actually put a dollar amount on what the addition could cost us.

"This option takes us away from our neighborhood concept, and it puts us in one location," which are both downsides to the plan, Jacobs said.

It's unclear when or if "Option 6" will become an official consolidation option.

Meanwhile, options 5a and 5b, released Wednesday, were constructed entirely from parent suggestions at recent public meetings. Option 5a would move half of Batavia's K-4 into Jackson School, and the other half into John Kennedy School, along with pre-K. Administrators would move into Robert Morris School, and fifth-graders would move into the middle school.

Under Option 5b, administrators would move into Jackson, and K-4 students would go to Robert Morris. All other facets remain the same as 5a.

Both 5a and 5b preserve the idea of neighborhood schools, though each plan eliminates one of the current elementary schools.

The final public meeting on the consolidation process will be held at 6 p.m. next Tuesday night, Oct. 4, inside Jackson Elementary School.

September 29, 2011 - 2:06pm

City School Superintendent Margaret Puzio confirms this afternoon that a short lockdown occurred at Batavia High School today, as a female student was subdued by police.

The student, age and grade unknown, became "upset" according to Puzio. She was deemed "a danger to herself."

All other students were confined to their classrooms as the girl was apprehended. Puzio estimates the actual lockdown period was only about five minutes.

The identity of the girl and any disciplinary action she faces from the district will be kept confidential.

September 13, 2011 - 11:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, City Schools.

To whatever degree a proposal to reduce city elementery schools from three to two is a trial balloon, in a meeting with parents at Robert Morris School on Tuesday night, it went down like a lead Zeppelin.

If Batavia City Schools Superintendent Margeret Puzio (top photo) hoped to woo some of the 70 parents in attendance, she would have been hard-pressed to find one fan of the idea by the end of the meeting.

Even parents who saw the need -- such as Phil Ricci, a budget ambassador for the school district -- said they hated the idea.

A consolidation of school districts -- one proposal shutters the current administration building and converts Robert Morris into new district headquarters -- would save as much as $1 million annually.

In an era of declining state aid combined with a property tax cap, the district board is forced to find ways to reduce spending that is "thinking outside the box," Puzio said.

She said if the 2-percent property tax cap had passed a year earlier, it would have led to a budget shortfall of $426,064. The cap would have limited the recent property tax increase to $280,106, instead of the $706,170 actually raised.

Plus, the district relied on a one-time federal grant of $567,584 to help balance the budget in 2011-12.

But on Monday night, there were times when parents seemed to simply oppose consolidation of the district's elementary schools regardless of budgetary constraints.

"It doesn’t seem we have a chance for honest input," Caroline Richardson said (first insert photo). "It seems like the decision is already made. It seems like there are no other options other than cutting down our programs again."

The consolidation proposals all involve the district selling its current administration building and then locating those offices to one of the elementary schools.

In each case, students are shuffled in a way that all grades would be at one school or another, such as all K-2 students at John Kennedy or all fifth-grade students at Batavia Middle School.

Cost savings would be achieved primarily through the elimination of some school-level administration and possibily some teaching positions.

The plans all end the idea of community schools serving K-5 students in their own neighborhood.

And that seemed to be the biggest sticking point for parents.

Some parents noted that under the proposals, instead of having their three children at one school, such as Robert Morris, they would end up with a kindergartner at one school, a third-grader at another school and their fifth-grader in the middle school.

Bonnie Vickery pointed out that schools rely on a lot of parent involvement both for educational support and fund raising.

If students are at more distant schools, and in some cases students will only be at a particular school for a couple of years, parents will be less likely to get involved, Lisa Macdonough (second inset photo).

"It's going to hurt schools way more than you realize," Vickery said. "I know the board is doing the best that it can and I know you want to do the best for the students, but there is a sense of community that is going to be lost."

While Puzio pointed to educational advantages of putting, say, all the second graders in one school instead of three, many parents weren't buying it.

A couple of parents cited reports they said showed that students who attended community schools achieved higher test scores, and students who made fewer transfers from school to school are more likely to graduate from high school.

"There are other options you need to be looking at that don't effect the children," Richardson said. "This is a community that has a lot of children in it who are disadvantaged to begin with and now we're going to disadvantage them again by taking them out of their neighborhoods."

Another person said many parents bought their homes where they did to be close to a community-based school, which brought a round of applause from other parents.

Puzio explained that part of the school district's goal was to preserve class size, which in Batavia is traditionally 20 students per class.

But when Macdonough said she would accept more students per class if it meant preserving community schools, nearly every parent applauded.

Another parent picked up the theme.

"Studies have shown that with a quality teacher who wants to be there, class size has little effect," Janelle Marble said. "We need to cultivate good teachers who want to be in their classrooms, who love teaching."

Near the end of the meeting, Ricci spoke up and said when he heard the consolidation plan, he became frustrated. He likes having his children attend Robert Morris, but he also knows the school district is facing a difficult budget situation and the board is doing the best it can on behalf of the children.

"I know all of these guys and know they are not trying to screw over the kids," Ricci said. "If this doesn't work, and it might not work, we as a community need to come together and come up with other options."

A group of parents are organizing a communitywide meeting to discuss consolidation at 7 p.m., Sept. 26, at Richmond Memorial Library. (Location TBD)

February 15, 2011 - 9:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools, van detta stadium.

No more muddy football games, practice sessions that can begin a month earlier and end a month later and lower maintenance costs are among the advantages of an artificial turf field. That's what about 30 attendees were told about at a public hearing Tuesday night on a proposed $3.9 million upgrade to Van Detta Stadium and the field.

The upgrade would also bring showers into federal Title IX compliance and disability access to the stands into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. It would also add 75 adjacent parking spots.

The financial impact of the project, some of which would be covered by state aid, would mean the district would need to collect about $110,000 in annual taxes from district residents over 15 years.

Superintended Margaret Puzio acknowledges that in a slow economic time a proposal like this might be counterintuitive. But the time is right, she said, because the recession means the district is likely to attract lower bids from contractors.

"It's important for the public to understand that this may be the last opportunity to do a project of this scope funded at this level," Puzio said near the end of the public hearing.

Afterwards, Puzio said she thought it was important to at least present the option to the public.

"I told the board, morally this is the right thing to do -- to let the public know this is available and let them decide," Puzio said.

The local share -- the amount local taxpayers will pay for directly -- is $1.6 million. The district already has more than $500,000 in its capital improvement fund, which leaves a little over a million to raise locally.

That would mean a tax increase of $6.41 annually to the tax bill of a property assessed at $75,000.

Revenue to pay the balance of the $3.9 million project cost is expected to come from state aid.

The public vote on the proposal is March 29.

Besides converting the playing surface to artificial turf -- which would greatly multiple the number of events and practices the field could be used for annually -- the proposed project also renovates and expands the press box. It adds coaches offices adjacent to the locker rooms and creates separate shower facilities for boys and girls.

The current showers can't even be used because they don't comply with requirements of Title IX.

There would also be a new concession stand area that would include public restrooms.

A 75-space parking lot would be constructed on a current playing field off Union Street (near the center, top left of the picture above).

October 7, 2009 - 12:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, North Street, NORTH STREET EXTENSION, City Schools.

northstreet_meeting.jpg

You could say it's a tale of two cities -- the city that says there are not enough athletic fields for our youths interested in organized sports, and the city that says there's plenty of fields and what's really needed is to preserve the peace and quite of at least one neighborhood.

It's doubtful either side heard the other at tonight's special school board meeting on the proposed North Street Extension athletic fields, but at least the conversation was civil for the more than two hours as board members sat and listened to residents on both sides make their points and ask their questions.

northstmeeting_puzio.jpg"(The meeting) was pretty much what we expected," said Superintendent Margaret Puzio after the meeting. "We hoped to give people an opportunity to come out and express their opinion, to get the facts, to see what we were planning to do and what our proposal looked like and to comment on it, and that’s what we got."

Some 80 to 100 people showed up for the meeting in the Batavia High School auditorium and it would be hard to say that one side was better represented than the other.

For the most part, you had residents of the North Street area looking to preserve the neighborhood as they know it and on the other you had youth sport coaches and a few concerned parents who don't live in the neighborhood decrying the lack of adequate sports fields in Batavia.

Though there were surprises, such as the high school coach who lives on North Street and opposes the idea of putting new athletic fields in his back yard, and the North Street resident who supports the concept.

"What we’re talking about here is a quality of life issue," said Mike Freeman. "My house is immediately adjacent to this property. I’m one of only 13 residents who look out their back yard into this property. I would gladly see this fixed up and made into a park and into athletic fields so that the people who currently use it do not have to park along people’s driveways and in front of their houses and on their grass."

More typical of the area residents was Jerry Reinhardt, who said with the limited use of the area for athletics now, he's constantly picking up trash and dealing with too much traffic in the neighborhood. He said he tried to purchase the land for development 15 years ago, but his offer was rejected.

“If the school board has listened to me then, they would have gotten more than $1.2 million in taxes so far,”  Reinhardt said.

For the coaches, more than a dozen spoke about an increase in youth sports activity and the need for better facilities.

“I keep hearing of decline, but this season, we had the most kids register for soccer ever," said Jeremy Havens, president of the Genesee Amateur Soccer Association. "We had 483 to be exact. That’s 38 teams playing at five different place in Batavia."

Havens said the number of youths participating would be even higher, but "parents can only be in one place at one time." Since kids of different age brackets play on different fields, parents have to choose which child gets to play, or not, or maybe neither child can participate since the parent would have to choose.

One centralized large facility would help, he suggested.

For Lacrosse coach Will Mulcahy, the problem is the only place his team has to practice in early March isn't really suitable for athletic activity at that time of year.

"As many of you know, our school was built on a marsh, basically," said Mulcahy. "In early march, even the area that we’ve been allotted --  I won’t even call a field -- is a swamp. The kids are some times two- or three-inches deep in mud. It’s not a practical place to practice. Then we’re driven into the gym where a little warmer-weather sports -- like tennis and baseball -- are practicing, so we compete for space with them.

"Lacrosse really needs to be outdoors. We need a field that is well drained where we can get on it really in the first of March so we can prepare properly to play the teams that have fields that are adequate."

Before the public comment portion of the meeting, Puzio presented several slides that provided details of the district's proposal, or what she said is really only a concept at this stage.

The facility would include a playground, restrooms with lockers and showers, 152 parking spaces, a concession area, walking paths and it would immediately open up adjacent lots for development, she said. Contrary to a persistent rumor, there are no plans for lighted fields, she said.

She also pointed out that over the past several years, participation in school sports has risen from 40 percent of the eligible students (499) to 55 percent (596). Part of that increase is the addition of more sports, such as Lacrosse in 2005, and Title IV requirements that both boys and girls be afforded the opportunity to play the same sports.

northst_meeting_christian.jpgWard 1 Councilman Bill Cox, who has taken up the mantle of champion for the residents who oppose the athetic fields, spoke first.He presented a petition signed by 180 residents in his ward.

"Your study is badly flawed and illogical," Cox said, citing declining enrollment at a time when the district says it needs more athletic facilties.

Council members Rose Mary Christian and Bob Bialkowski also spoke in opposition to the proposal. Bialkowski said the proposal will likely be a further burden on taxpayers when the property is already a financial drain on the city.

“We’re already paying for this now," Bialkowski said. "This property has been off the tax roles for many years and it’s been costing the taxpayers of this community quite a bit of money. Too many properties not paying taxes -- it’s really starting to strangle the community."

The idea that the property should be sold and developed into taxable housing was raised more than once during the evening, which eventually prompted Board Member Patrick Burk to point out that the district has already tried to sell the property to developers twice. Once when voters rejected the proposed sale in a referendum, and once when all the bids came in much to low to accept any of them.

The point was also made that such a construction project would carry with it a greater tax burden for construction of infrastructure, plus -- just how much demand for new housing is there in Batavia?

During the presentation, Puzio noted that if the project is fully funded by grants, the district need not bring the project before voters for approval, but after the meeting Puzio acknowledged that full-grant funding is unlikely.

"Given the unknown nature of the funding, it’s very likely that we would have to fund it with some public funding," Puzio said. "It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we might ask for a vote."

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