Local Matters

Community Sponsors


November 13, 2020 - 12:11pm

Press release:

Genesee Community College's BEST Center (Business Employee Skills Training) has been awarded the New York College Apprenticeship Network (NYCAN) grant. The award is perfectly timed with the celebration of the U.S. Department of Labor's sixth annual National Apprenticeship Week which runs November 8 to 14, 2020.

The NYCAN grant which totals $15,000 is a result of a partnership between The State University of New York (SUNY) and the New York State Department of Labor and is designed to focus on advanced manufacturing.

"As the BEST Center's primary focus is employee development and skills training, we are highly attuned to the workforce needs of our communities," said Director of the BEST Center John McGowan, Ph.D. "The programs we offer are specifically designed to grow highly skilled and employable personnel to ensure the economic health of our region."

Genesee Community College's BEST Center has begun to engage small, medium, and large employers to secure paid apprenticeships in high demand, competitive wage occupations throughout Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, and -- through online capabilities -- far beyond!

"The NYCAN grant allows us to support employers with Registered Apprenticeship programs, as well as assist current and future Registered Apprentices," McGowan said.

New York State has provided $9 million of funding for SUNY community colleges, to create one of the largest statewide public/private partnership apprenticeship programs in the country.

At Genesee Community College, the BEST Center's programs house the expertise and support that identify workforce needs, determine skills gaps, and engage employer sponsors to expand apprenticeships throughout the Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, and far beyond.

The SUNY Apprenticeship Program will assist in developing 2,000 pre-apprentices and Registered Apprentices over four to six-years in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, information technology/cybersecurity/ artificial intelligence and more.

November 9, 2020 - 2:22pm

Photo: Aaron Leone, right, practices his welding skills on the Miller LiveArc machine, as welding instructor Andrew Geyer, guides him.

Submitted photo and press release:

When Graham Corporation and the Genesee County Economic Development Center approached the executive principal of the Genesee Valley BOCES Batavia Campus about donating a welding simulator, Jon Sanfratello knew that this was a huge bonus for the Metal Trades Program.

“When businesses invest in our programs, our students are the true benefactors," Sanfratello said. "This welding simulator, that Graham Corporation has so generously donated,will provide our students with an additional training tool to test their skills.

"One of our top priorities here at GV BOCES is the integration of both applied and practical skills into curriculumso our students are college and career-ready. This training tool is another means of achieving our goal. We are so very appreciative of Graham’s investment in our program and students.”

At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Graham Corp. provided them a Miller LiveArc Welding System. It provides a simulation scenario for a student to practice welds in a live-arc training mode.

Andrew Geyer is the welding instructor at the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center.

“The Miller LiveArc has cameras and infrared sensors that will read students’ welds and grade them accordingly based upon the parameters that are set,” Geyer said. “It is our hope that representatives from Graham can spend some time with us and program the machine with industry-based welds, so students can get a better understanding of what is expected in industry.” 

Geyer and Metal Trades students recently met with Graham Corp. representatives and Chris Suozzi, GCEDC vice president of Business & Workforce Development, via Zoom. During this online meeting, students asked many questions about employment opportunities at Graham Corporation.

Graham Corp. is well known for being a major employer in the region as well as a big supporter of schools especially, Genesee Valley BOCES. Graham has gifted other materials used in the Metal Trades Program at the GV BOCES Batavia Campus, too.

“The Welding Program at the Batavia CTE Center is very important to Graham Corporation and to our community," said Alan Smith, general manager of Graham Corp. "As Graham continues to grow, access to skilled welders is vital. Welders make up approximately 50 percent of Graham's skilled workforce.

"Graham has a long history of supporting the welding program at the Batavia CTE Center with donations of plate steel and weld wire. Graham's latest donation of the weld simulator will enable students to learn proper welding techniques by providing immediate feedback while saving the expensive cost of weld wire.”

Graham Corporation also has a track record of hiring welding students from the Batavia CTE Center and from other BOCES around New York State. Don Fonda, superintendent at Graham Corp., says this partnership goes back decades.

“We have close to 75 employees who went to a BOCES program, and add in some recent new hires, the total is over 80 employees," Fonda said. "We have 53 employees who came to Graham from the Batavia GV BOCES program.

“From what I could find out the Graham/Batavia GV BOCES connection goes back to the 1970s when GV BOCES was next to the industrial center. Bob Torrey was one of the first co-op students at Graham. He started at Graham working three days and Saturdays in January of 1974 while he was in school. He was hired full time in June 1974, 46 years ago.”

Suozzi says partnerships like this benefit the community.

"The Genesee County Economic Development Center applauds Graham Corporation for investing in equipment and experiences that will benefit every 11th- and 12th-grade student learning in GV BOCES' welding lab," Suozzi said. "This partnership strengthens the skills of our students for the great careers at Graham Corporation.”

November 9, 2020 - 1:35pm
posted by Press Release in USDA Summer 2021 internship, education, news.

Press release:

Get the first leg up on your career ladder with a summer 2021 internship at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As part of the federal Pathways Program, USDA offers paid federal internships at USDA agencies and offices around the country.

USDA is hiring interns from high school to graduate level for a broad range of occupational fields, from veterinary science, to engineering, to natural resources management, and finance.

This developmental program gives students experience to enhance their educational goals and shape their career choices. USDA internships involve on-the-job experience, mentorship, and training tailored to the student’s education, experience and interests.

The program is available to students who are currently enrolled in qualifying educational programs or institutions from high school to graduate level.

In 2020, USDA hosted thousands of in-person and virtual internships around the country, many of which were through the federal Pathways Program.

Next summer, USDA will hire Pathways interns in hundreds of locations in nearly every state in the country for the following occupational fields:

It’s easy to apply for a OneUSDA Pathways internship. Visit www.usda.gov/internships, choose your area of interest and the link will send you to a USAJobs posting where you can apply and choose your preferred location.

The deadline for summer 2021 internship applications is Monday, Nov. 16. Application review will begin immediately. For more information on the program and eligibility, visit www.usda.gov/internships or email [email protected].

Educators, youth-serving organizations, and students can find more USDA resources to foster the next generation of agricultural professionals at www.usda.gov/youth.

November 9, 2020 - 1:07pm

Press release:

The successful GLOW With Your Hands career exploration project hit a major milestone Nov. 2 with the launch of a new virtual platform to benefit all students in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming County (GLOW) Region.

A year after engaging with more than 800 students in hands-on experiences, GLOW With Your Hands Virtual (glowwithyourhandsvirtual.com) expands the experience with innovative, on-demand exploration of 34 careers across four growing sections of the regional economy.

“After seeing the direct impact GLOW With Your Hands produced in a single-day event in 2019, we are excited to bring careers in agriculture, food processing, advanced manufacturing and skilled trades directly to even more students,” said Karyn Winters, director of the Genesee County BEA, who led the project with Angela Grouse, director of Education to Employment Initiatives at the Livingston County Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Students who swung a hammer, laid a concrete walkway, practiced welding and dozens of other activities at GLOW With Your Hands 2019 can now have an even deeper connection to explore these careers,” Grouse said. “GLOW With Your Hands Virtual takes those experiences into the production facilities, job sites and farms, with meaningful results.”

Schools received early access to the GLOW With Your Hands Virtual website a week ago. The full website encourages the public, students, parents and educators to immerse themselves in the platform.

Careers highlighted include assembly and fabrication, welding, concrete and masonry, project manager, food packaging, veterinary technician, animal nutritionist, and drivers with commercial driver's licenses (CDL).

“Each career page includes an extensive ‘day in the life’ profile of professionals at great companies in the GLOW region, and an outline of the general duties, earnings and educational requirements,” Grouse said.

“Most importantly, students are shown a pathway of classes, clubs, volunteer opportunities and local training programs that they can pursue during middle and high school and beyond with training programs and post-secondary opportunities.”

In addition to the Genesee County BEA and Livingston County Area Chamber of Commerce, volunteers from all participated in generating career information, filming and editing of videos with companies across all four counties, and preparing the website.

“We are already planning how to grow GLOW With Your Hands for the future,” Winters said. “In addition to continuing to expand the Virtual platform, all of our organizations are ready to assist our students, educators and businesses.”

GLOW With Your Hands Virtual was made possible by generous 2020 sponsors, led by Platinum Sponsor Genesee Construction; Gold Sponsors Clark Patterson Lee, O-AT-KA Milk Products, National Grid and Livingston Associates; Silver Sponsor USG Oakfield; Bronze Sponsors Batavia Rotary, Cargill, CY Farms, Koike Aronson, Pfisterer Lapp, Torrey Farms and the Workforce Development Institute; and General Sponsors Ed Hulme General Contracting and Stein Farms.

“The support that our volunteers, businesses, schools and sponsors all brought to our inaugural event continued throughout the past year and throughout the development of the GLOW With Your Hands Virtual project under Karyn and Angela’s leadership,” said Jay Lazarony and Chris Suozzi, GLOW With Your Hands cochairs, in a statement.

“The entire GLOW With Your Hands team invites you to explore glowwithyourhandsvirtual.com, and we look forward to seeing everyone in person very soon for the next hands-on event.”

Here are a few links to explore:

November 8, 2020 - 1:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson School, news, notify, schools, education, batavia.

Two employees at Jackson Primary School tested positive for COVID-19 and were symptomatic while on campus so Superintendent Anibal Soler today announced that the school will be moving to 100-percent virtual learning for the next two weeks starting tomorrow.

Jackson, with pupils in grades pre-kindergarten through second, is the only school in the City School district moving to virtual learning for the time being.

"This has caused a growing number of students and staff to be identified and deemed in “close contact” and they will need to quarantine for a 14-day window immediately," Solar said. "Staff and students who have been identified as 'close contact' will be notified by both school administration and the Genesee County Health Department starting today."

Virtual learning will be in effect until Nov. 30.

"This decision was extremely difficult as I know the impact that this has on our students and families," Solar said. "As positive cases continue to grow in our Genesee County region, please know that this decision was done out of extreme caution to protect our youngest learners, families, and staff."

Letter to parents and staff:

I am writing to provide you an important update regarding COVID-19 and Jackson Primary School.  

I have been notified and in contact with the Genesee County Health Department and the District’s Medical Director that there have been two positive COVID-19 cases on the Jackson Primary campus. The employees were in school while exhibiting symptoms. As a result, this has caused a growing number of students and staff to be identified and deemed in “close contact” and they will need to quarantine for a 14-day window immediately. Staff and students who have been identified as “close contact” will be notified by both school administration and the Genesee County Health Department starting today. 

Out of an abundance of caution, we will be moving Jackson Primary School to 100-percent Virtual Remote Learning effective immediately and will return back to our hybrid in-person learning model on Monday, Nov. 30.

This decision was extremely difficult as I know the impact that this has on our students and families. As positive cases continue to grow in our Genesee County region, please know that this decision was done out of extreme caution to protect our youngest learners, families and staff. 

This extended period of in-person learning closure is our attempt to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 on our Jackson Primary campus and will hopefully avoid us having multiple interruptions or closures to our school programming as we continue to await additional test results.

Please also note, all non-identified staff will report to work tomorrow as normal to continue to teach and support students remotely. Access to meals including breakfast and lunch, will continue to be provided daily for any individual 18 and under in the household.  

New York State has launched the “School COVID Report Card” site, where you can view COVID-19 data associated with all schools in New York. To protect the privacy of students and staff, we will never release personally identifiable information.

Please continue to be vigilant in your efforts and help us prevent the spread of COVID-19. For additional reliable information on preventing the spread of COVID-19, please go to www.cdc.gov or www.health.ny.gov

Please also don’t hesitate to contact Jackson Primary School or the District if you have any questions or concerns. 

Better Together… WE are Batavia!

Anibal Soler Jr.

Superintendent of Schools

November 5, 2020 - 3:21pm
posted by Press Release in GCC, Virtual Open House, news, education.

Press release: 

Everyone interested in attending Genesee Community College is encouraged to register and select which sessions best fit their own unique needs. Choose to hear the Financial Aid information or join later to meet key faculty and Athletics team coaches.

GCC is taking full advantage of the online environment to allow potential students and their families to zoom in and out of the sessions they choose. The registration form includes a complete agenda for selection.

Taking place completely online, Open House will begin at 9:30 a.m. with information about the Admissions process, Financial Aid, Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and services specifically designed to support homeschooled students and adultlearners. Around 11 a.m.participants will get to hear about the role of GCC's Student Success Coaches and Campus Center Advisors and get some expert help figuring out if Online Learning is right for you.

Then, at noon, the Academic breakout sessions will give all participants a chance to meet faculty from their intended major, hear about program expectations and technology associated with the program.

After the breakouts, Transfer and Career Services will explain how they help students maximize their time and plan for the future they want. The Learning Center -- which provides FREE tutoring to GCC students, the Counseling, and Access and Accommodations offices will also present the plethora of services they provide to help ensure student success.

Then, at 1:30 p.m. listen in to the Student Experience Panel as they discuss "What is there to do at GCC?" and hear all about Living on Campus at College Village. Wrapping up the event, at 2:30 p.m. join the rest of the Cougar Pride in an informative Athletics presentation.

For more information contact GCC's Admissions Office at 1-866-CALL-GCC or by email at [email protected].

What: Customize Your Experience at GCC's Virtual Open House

When: Wednesday, Nov. 11, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Where: Register and Choose Sessions to Attend at: www.genesee.edu/VisitGCC

Who: Students and Families of All Ages Interested in Attending GCC!

Background: For maximum convenience, effectiveness, and safety, Genesee Community College will host a customizable Virtual Open House on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

October 30, 2020 - 6:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, schools, education, news, wolcott school.


Today was pumpkin patch day for students at Wolcott School in Le Roy.  Students walked through the patch and picked their own personal pumpkins to take home.







October 23, 2020 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Make A Difference Day, batavia, Batavia HS, schools, education, news.


For Batavia High School seniors, today was Make a Difference Day, the day seniors fan out around the community completing a variety of volunteer projects for community organizations.

Photos are from the seniors' clean-up project at the Batavia Cemetery.

Seniors also helped out at:

  • All Babies Cherished Genesee ARC (participate in activities with individuals with disabilities) 
  • Batavia First United Methodist Church (organizing and possible yard work)
  • Genesee Cancer Assistance (organize office inside the hospital)
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension (recording books for kids, assembling soil kits, organizing storeroom)
  • Crossroads House (organizing kitchen cupboards, general indoor cleaning)
  • Batavia First United Methodist Church (organizing and yard work)
  • Genesee County Park (yard work at the outdoor learning center)
  • Genesee County Youth Bureau (decorating Halloween bags)
  • Genesee Orleans Art Council (help with artistic mural painting, landscaping, cleaning, wall painting)
  • Habitat for Humanity (construction work)
  • Holland Land Office (yard work) 
  • Kiwanis Park
  • Manor House (gardening and landscaping)
  • Batavia Peace Garden (yard work, painting)



October 16, 2020 - 3:10pm

Submitted photo and press release:

The Pavilion Central School District’s Board of Education has selected Mary Kate Hoffman as the district’s next Superintendent. Hoffman will be appointed pending successful contract negotiations.

“The board is confident that Mary Kate Hoffman will lead our district as we work together to deliver the best education possible for our students," said Marirose Ethington, Pavilion Central School District’s Board president. "Our search process narrowed the field to three excellent candidates.

"We value all of the input from our stakeholders. With her dedication, enthusiasm, and knowledge, our board feels that Mary Kate has the educational capacity and attributes to move us forward.” 

Hoffman is the principal of York Elementary School located in Retsof, a hamlet in the Town of York in Livingston County. She has 11 years of educational leadership experience including serving as the Assistant Secondary Principal, Interim Principal and Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Pavilion Central Schools.

Hoffman began her career in education in 1995 as a second-grade teacher at Pavilion Elementary School. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from SUNY College at Fredonia, and a Master of Science in Education from SUNY College at Geneseo. She earned a certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration from SUNY College at Brockport. 

“I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve the Pavilion Central School District as Superintendent," Hoffman said. "I look forward to working with the students, staff, Board of Education, and community to carry on the traditions of academic excellence and community pride. I am excited to make new connections, renew old friendships, and return to the place where my career began.” 

Kevin MacDonald, district superintendent of the Genesee Valley BOCES, acted as the search consultant and noted that the search process was a true collaboration between the Board of Education and stakeholders who served on the interview committee.

About Genesee Valley BOCES

It operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State.

October 15, 2020 - 6:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Joe's, batavia, news, Batavia Cemetery, schools, education.


St. Joe's teacher Anne Marie Starowitz got to take her class on a field trip for the first time since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic today, walking her students over to the Batavia Cemetery to visit the gravesites of many of the historically important people buried or memorialized there.

Students are undertaking projects that include researching and writing about these people as well as created related artwork.

Above, students learn about Philemon Tracy, who was a colonel in the Confederate Army. His uncle, who lived in Batavia, had his body disguised in a Union officer uniform and transported to Batavia to be buried here. He's the only Confederate officer who died in action who is buried north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Below, students visit the William Morgan monument, a one-time Batavia resident who disappeared under mysterious circumstances after publishing a book that purportedly revealed Masonic secrets. His death helped ignite the Anti-Masonic Party.


October 10, 2020 - 5:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, news, notify, City Schools, batavia.

A 3-percent pay raise for City School's Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. was primarily a cost-of-living adjustment, a couple of members of the board of education told The Batavian in response to a set of emailed questions.

But not all board members responded to the request for comment.

Not responding were:

  • Shawna Murphy
  • Barbara Bowman
  • John Reigle

Trustee Tanni Bromley provided the most detailed response.

During the annual review process, the Board approved the raise of Mr. Soler after thorough discussion during the executive session. The Board felt it was justified for a few reasons which included cost of living increase, the longevity bonus would support and promote Mr. Soler's tenure in education. And finally, the Board did feel that Mr. Soler provided a well-structured plan for our district's reopening. 

The Board always takes the public's thoughts and feelings into account when making such decisions however it is also known that our decisions will not please every community member. Our objective always remains to provide our kids with the best educational experience possible, especially during these difficult and unprecedented times. 

The board approved the raise for Soler, lifting his annual pay from $160,000 to $164,800, unanimously near the end of the same meeting where Soler outlined a looming financial crisis for the school district. The governor's office is withholding at least 20 percent of state funding because of the pandemic and that could lead to a revenue shortfall of more than $5.4 million.

The seeming incongruity of the revenue discussion and the board approving a raise for Soler was questioned by members of the local community, so The Batavian asked each board member to provide their individual reasons for approving the raise.

Board President Alice Ann Benedict first responded:

As per School law, we discuss any employee issues in executive session. We had an in-depth discussion. We then put it on the agenda under consent items and voted on the raise. It is a cost of living increase. Three percent of $160,000 is $4,800.

In an attempt to get Benedict to expand on her answer, The Batavian, in a response email, noted that state law allows elected officials to discuss personnel matters in executive session (what some call "secret session") but doesn't require personnel matters be discussed behind closed doors, nor does state law prohibit elected officials from publically discussing their thoughts on matters taken up in executive session.

In a subsequent email, Benedict said the board held a thorough, in-depth discussion about the raise in closed session.

In a follow-up, we asked Benedict about the size of the raise -- 3 percent -- when the inflation rate in 2020 has been less than 1 percent and the consumer price index in 2019 was less than 2 percent.

"We choose a combination of cost of living, merit, and equity," Benedict said. "This was all decided during a very lengthy executive session meeting." 

Peter Cecere apologized for the delayed response because of a significant family matter. He again cited that the discussion was an executive session matter:

All decisions we arrive at are done with the utmost of thought and consideration from all angles and all sides. Many times not easy and often very laborious.

Rest assured we negotiated as a group, of one voice, and consent.

In response, The Batavian again noted that as a matter of law, he is not prohibited from discussing his decision to support a raise. We got no response.

John Marucci also apologized for a delayed response, citing long hours at work, and said:

What I can tell you is that any and all decisions made by the board of education are discussed thoroughly and we come together as a group on decisions that are made. Anything that is discussed in executive session is confidential.

In response, The Batavian again informed Marucci that we were seeking his individual thoughts on the raise and that state law does not prohibit him from answering questions for the public about matters discussed in executive session. He did not respond.

As for Anibal Soler Jr., he acknowledges that the optics of the raise being approved at a meeting where he spoke about the revenue issue -- the executive session where the raise was discussed was at a prior meeting -- don't look good, but he pointed out that:

  • His contract includes an annual raise;
  • The board was supposed to approve a raise for him in July but Soler asked that the matter be delayed because he was busy dealing with pandemic-related issues in the district;
  • Every bargaining unit in the district, the various unions, and other individual administrators have contracts that mandate annual raises. "Should I be the only one to go without a raise?" he said.

Yes, he said, the timing of the meeting, the optics, do not look good but the district, he said, is facing such a serious revenue shortfall that forgoing a $4,800 raise isn't going to fill in the hole.

He said last year he offered to skip a raise if all the other bargain units would forego their raises and the unions didn't take him up on the offer.

October 8, 2020 - 3:41pm
posted by Press Release in GCC, Fall 2020 semester, news, education.

Press release:

In just a few weeks, on Monday, Oct. 26, faculty at Genesee Community College will start seven-week session classes; the last session of the Fall 2020 semester.

These hand-selected courses cover all of the content included in a full semester-long course over a drastically accelerated timeline and delivered through completely remote and online modalities. 

The courses offered during this unique session are designed to help students to meet their general education and program course requirements on time or ahead of schedule. For added convenience and in conjunction with the current pandemic-related guidance, all seven-week session classes are offered completely online. To apply, visit here.

Both College Composition (ENG101) and Composition in the Natural and Social Sciences (ENG102) are being offered, which greatly helps those students who were unable to take these courses in earlier semesters.

In total, this session offers courses that cover five different General Education categories for students.

There are also a number of courses specific to a variety of majors but that also could serve as electives for others. Perhaps two of the most widely applicable options include Principles of Business (BUS101) and Introduction to Computers (CIS102) which are also both starting Oct. 26.

Of particular interest to those future Fashion Designers, Merchandisers, and others pursuing a future in fashion, courses like Principles of Fashion Merchandising (FBM101) and of Textiles (FBM115) are available at this time.

To participate in GCC's next online Instant Admit Days on either Oct. 8 and 13, register here.

In addition, GCC will host virtual Open House sessions on Oct. 17 and Nov. 11 and the College's 360 Virtual Tour is always available!

For more information or photographs contact Vice President, Development and External Affairs Justin Johnston at (585) 345-6809, or via email: [email protected]

October 7, 2020 - 2:52pm
posted by Press Release in news, education, fashion, jewelry design, GCC, Franci Jewelry.

Submitted photo and press release:

Eleven years ago, Nicole Davis (top photo), CEO, designer and Buffalo native, created Franci Jewelry from her kitchen table. Since then, her extensive collections have been featured in prominent fashion weeks around the world including New York, Los Angeles and Paris, worn by celebrity clientele and also published in several national and international magazines, which includes the likes of Vogue Italia.

On Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 11:30 a.m. Davis will share her story virtually through GCC's Fashion Episodes. To watch Fashion Episode 20:1 Franci Jewelry with Nicole Davis, visit https://zoom.us/j/4147496187

All are invited to hear this self-proclaimed "mompreneur" describe the growth of her business, the importance of understanding one's target markets and making intentional, appropriate business decisions that match that target market.

This episode is the first of its kind made available by the Fashion Program at Genesee Community College. The Fashion Program has always been a flagship for the college. The knowledge and experience of the faculty and their dedication to their students has produced quality and professional workplace candidates and well-prepared transfer students since the program's inception more than 40 years ago.

Just last year, GCC renewed its articulation agreement with LIM for students in the Fashion Business: Merchandising A.A.S. program. Students who complete the track and degree requirements can seamlessly transfer to LIM to complete their B.B.A. in Fashion Merchandising, Visual Merchandising, Marketing or Management.

In addition, GCC is very excited to announce a new articulation agreement with Cazenovia College. This agreement provides a seamless transfer opportunity for GCC's Fashion Business: Merchandising A.A.S. students to Cazenovia's Fashion Merchandising B.P.S. and for GCC's Fashion Business: Fashion Design A.A.S. students to Cazenovia's Fashion Design B.F.A. degree program.

Anyone interested in taking advantage of these transfer opportunities through GCC is encouraged to contact GCC's Student Success Center at (585) 345-6805 or via email at [email protected].

October 7, 2020 - 2:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, news, batavia, City Schools, notify.
                  Alice Ann Benedict

Alice Ann Benedict is in only her fourth month as president of the Board of Education for Batavia city schools but she's already looking to make a significant change to a board policy that she said has bothered her for a long time.

Under the previous leadership of Pat Burk, who resigned suddenly over the summer, if a member of the public came to a board meeting and asked a question, Burk would inform the speaker, "We don't answer questions from the public."

Benedict wants to provide the public with public answers to board questions.

She brought the issue to the board's attention at Monday's meeting and Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. suggested after the board discussion that the board hold off on changing the policy until staff can formalize the language and make a recommendation.

If the board adopts Benedict's suggestion, the district will offer a form on the district's website where members of the public could ask questions of the board. If the question is submitted prior to a set deadline -- such as 5 p.m. on the Thursday before the board's Monday meeting -- then either the board president or the superintendent would prepare an answer. At the next board meeting, during the "public speaks" portion of the agenda, the question and answer would be read aloud. 

Currently, Benedict said, if a question is sent to the district, either she or Soler answer it and the board never sees the question unless Benedict forwards it to them. Benedict would like the entire board to be informed of questions from the public.

During COVID-19 restrictions, members of the public are not attending meetings but once restrictions are lifted, Benedict wants the board to have in place a policy that would allow members of the public to ask questions. If questions are submitted in advance, they will be answered at the meeting. If not, the board president or superintendent will answer the question at a subsequent meeting.

Benedict expressed concern that some people, like herself, are not "quick on their feet" when it comes to answering questions, which is why she wants a built-in delay on answering questions so there is time for research and consideration.

"I always felt like before when I was on the board, I never liked the idea that if a community member took time to come to the board to make a comment or ask a question, we would never answer," Benedict said. "We would never answer the question. That really bothered me."

At first, Trustee Shawna Murphy seemed a little confused by the suggestion, noting that the public has always been allowed to speak at meetings.  After Benedict spoke more about her idea, Murphy said, "sounds beautiful."

Soler said it usually takes two readings for the board to adopt a new policy. He said the policy should incorporate best practices for dealing with public speakers and also suggested the policy should mimic what he said other districts do, which requires public speakers to sign up to speak hours in advance of the meeting "so people can't come and disrupt the meeting."

October 7, 2020 - 2:19pm
posted by Press Release in GCC, education, news, Virtual Open House.

Press release:

Genesee Community College will host two virtual Open House events this fall for students and families to learn all about what the College has to offer!

The first event will take place online from 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, where participants will be able to listen to and watch presentations from all types of areas of the College including various Academic Departments, the Admissions team, Athletics, Financial Aid, Student Success, Student Engagement and Inclusion, and more!

These special Virtual Open House events will also give virtual attendees an opportunity to ask questions and get answers! A complete schedule of the virtual event presentations is available on the registration page for each event date.

Register now at www.genesee.edu/VisitGCC to attend either GCC Fall Virtual Open House on Saturday, Oct. 17 or Wednesday, Nov. 11.

For more information contact GCC's Admissions Office at 1-866-CALL-GCC or by email at [email protected].

When: Saturday, Oct. 17 from 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 11 from 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Where: Register to attend at www.genesee.edu/VisitGCC

Who: Anyone interested in attending GCC!

October 6, 2020 - 8:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, news, notify, batavia, schools, education.

Batavia city schools are looking at a nearly $5.5 million revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year due to the global pandemic that has caused an economic retraction, and dealing with that shortfall is likely to mean the district needs to cut services and personnel, Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. informed school board members on Monday night.

Soler told the board that state aid has been cut by 20 percent, or $425,000, so far. The state says it is "withholding" the funds but there's no guarantee the funds will be backfilled, nor that there won't be more "withholding" during the remainder of the year.

The state is facing a $16 billion budget shortfall and the deficit over the next four years is expected to grow to $66 billion.

That doesn't bode well for the future of school funding, Soler said.

The superintedent said he was trying to present the board and the community with a realistic picture of the situation the district finds itself in through no fault of its own.

"If we don’t sound the alarm now and it gets sounded for us, we may be seen as not being as transparent as we can," Soler said.

While a lot of people suggest cutting things like supplies and materials, that's only 2 percent of the school district's budget. The biggest portion of the budget goes to payroll and benefits -- about 70 percent, so if it becomes necessary to cut spending, that will be the area where the district can make up much of the projected shortfall.

"At $5.4 million, you start doing the math and that's a significant number of services or employees we have to change," Soler said.

The total district budget is $51,470,726 and is supported by $27,477,066.

The unknowns at this point is: Whether there will be a round of 20-percent withholding in August and December and whether Congress will at some point approve a stimulus package that includes funding for schools.

Soler said state education officials are leaning heavily on the idea of waiting to see what happens after the election.

If the cuts turn out to be permanent, Soler outline several possible responses:

  • Cut teacher aides to four days a week for a savings of $301,210;
  • Cut custodial work to four days a week for a savings of $246,126;
  • Go to 100-percent remote learning to cut transportation costs by $576,000;
  • Eliminate activities such as music for a savings of $143,551;
  • Cutting athletics could save $284,089;
  • Increasing class size to 28 pupils per teacher, the maximum allowed by the current union contract, could save $630,000;
  • Eliminating non-mandated staff, such as teachers for elective courses, non-graduation requirement courses, extra librarians, some tutors and counselors, an administrator, and some aides, could lead to another $3 million in savings;
  • Eliminating the school resource officer would save $54,000.

What to cut and how much is a matter of priorities and a balancing act, Soler said. For example, eliminating transportation would mean a cut in state aid for transportation in future years.

Also on the table for discussion, Soler said, is a dramatic tax increase. He took notice of the possible 89-percent property tax increase in the Town of Batavia as an example of the tough budget choices the pandemic is forcing on local governments.

"Obviously, I'm not saying that's our approach but we're probably not going to be able to come out of this with no tax increase," Soler said. "It's tough because they're (property owners) are also struggling with these economic conditions."

Board Member Shawna Murphy wondered out loud why the idea of a tax increase was such a heinous idea. She suggested most people in Batavia could handle a tax increase.

Another board member spoke up (it was hard to identify the speaker on the livestream of the meeting) and said many older residents have already put their children and their grandchildren through school and now live on a fixed income. She was hesitant to burden them with a tax increase.

"I have more concern for the older property owner," she said. "Their home is the last thing they're clinging to and we're asking them to make quite a sacrifice when they have no children in the system."

The district does have about $1.75 million in reserves but that money will run out quickly if other action isn't taken, Soler said.

The district will know much more about its financial situation by the Nov. 23 board meeting, Soler said. Until then, he said, the district needs to remain "stay the course and remain Batavia Strong" and study its options.

On another budget item, the board unanimously approved an amendment to the superintendent's contract that granted Soler a $4,800 annual raise, bringing his compensation to $164,800 per year. The board did not discuss the salary increase prior to the vote.

September 24, 2020 - 10:01am
posted by Press Release in Le Roy, schools, education, news.

Press release:

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, residents of the Le Roy Central School District will be asked to participate in a capital project referendum. Two separate capital project propositions will be offered on the ballot for their consideration and vote.

Proposition 1 consists of district-wide building and site improvements focused on safety, asset preservation, and academic program enhancements. Critical needs addressed in this part of the project include exterior building reconstruction, such as masonry repointing, window replacements, roof replacements at the Wolcott Street School, and the Jr.-Sr. High School, and reconstruction of the deteriorating parapet at the Wolcott Street School.

Water accumulation in the Wolcott Street School boiler room and at the Lapp Building would also be addressed, as well as age-related deterioration to various stairways and entryways at both schools. Window film would be applied at both school buildings to enhance student safety and security.

Program enhancements would include gymnasium refinishing and locker room improvements at the Wolcott Street School, plus improvements to the existing soccer field at the Jr.-Sr. High School, including a multipurpose playing surface, lighting, and new bleachers. Both schools would also receive auditorium house lighting upgrades, plus theatrical lighting improvements at the High School.

Proposition 2, which is contingent on approval of the first proposition, incorporates additional improvements to our physical education and athletic programs. A multipurpose playing surface would be added inside the existing track at the Jr.-Sr. High School, along with new stadium field lighting and a pedestrian path leading from the school to the field. This work would put the final touches on our stadium.

Both propositions put forth in this proposed project represent an important continuation of the facilities planning initiatives we began with the R.I.T.E. project.

We encourage you to learn more about the project propositions at the public information meeting on Oct. 14 and to cast your vote on Oct. 28.

The public information meeting on Oct. 14 is in the Jr-Sr High School Auditorium at 7 p.m. and the referendum vote is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 28 at Wolcott Street School.

Download: Information sheet (pdf).

NOTE: The referendum was originally scheduled to go before voters in May. The video was made for the school district before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

September 17, 2020 - 3:38pm

Press release:

LE ROY -- Established in 1992, the Student Support Services Center (SSSC) has a broad scope of programming that is aimed at supporting schools in the Western New York region.

The SSSC has a wealth of experience supporting schools and communities at the state, regional and local levels to enhance and refine school policies, practices and curricula to meet emerging needs based on data and school strengths.

“It is our goal to support school communities with building their capacity to enhance and sustainsupportive learning environments that impact student achievement as well as overall student growth and development," said Joan Vitkus, director of the SSSC. "The overall objective is to assist schools in creating an environment for students that is conducive to learning."

Technical assistance and professional development are two of the main areas of support that the SSSC provides. Programs and services include workshops and guidance on topics such as: supportive learning environments that include the implementation of New York State Education Department (NYSED) regulations related to School Counseling Program/Plans; comprehensive Health Education and the Dignity for All Students Act with social and emotional learning embedded; and NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives required courses for certification. The latter includes child abuse identification, SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act).

The SSSC is a NYSED approved provider of the mandatory Dignity Act Harassment, Bully, Cyberbullying and Discrimination in Schools -- Prevention and Intervention training. Beside these trainings, SSSC staff assist districts with their School Wellness Policy processes as another strategy for enhancing and sustaining supportive learning environments to help students be successful.

“Our facilitative work that supports schools is grounded in collectively developing collaborative strategies by meaningfully engaging students, families, staff and community members in partnerships,” Vitkus said.

“Schools are the community gems and resources that serve the students and families of those communities. At the same time, gems and resources within the community may work in tandem with schools to serve the community’s students, families and larger community.”

Vitkus explained how the SSSC works to explore possible supports within a community. 

“The exploration often begins to lessen schools being overburden with being the end-all solution," she said. "And most importantly, we facilitate engaging multiple voices and perspectives to help the school and community identify their strengths, what they hope to collaboratively accomplish and how they would like to grow and develop to serve the community’s students and families in alignment with the district’s mission, vision, beliefs and goals."

The SSSC has a far-reaching territory that encompasses the following BOCES, Genesee Valley, Monroe 2-Orleans, Monroe 1, Wayne-Finger Lakes and the Greater Southern Tier along with other regions throughout the state.

The Center also partners with local and regional community organizations and county health departments including Wayne, Seneca counties; the Elmira, Campbell-Savona, Waverly areas, along with the Buffalo area.

The SSS Center is funded by federal, state and local contractsand its offices are located in Le Roy, New York at the Genesee Valley BOCES’ Le Roy Services Center.

“We describe this as a giant triangle for our service area and we have the expertise and capacity to do so," Vitkus said. "We’ve created a tapestry of facilitative supports and services that meets districts and communities where they are to help members move forward based on their needs and readiness for this very important collaborative work."

This summer, the SSSC has undergone some staff changes. Kim McLaughlin, director, has semiretired and she has changed roles with Vitkus, coordinator, who has assumed the position of director. This transition will be seamless as these dedicated staff members have worked together for over a decade.

Desiree Voorhies, coordinator, semiretired in 2019 and will assist with any programming and/or training needs in the coming school year.

Beth Burdick, and Heather Bachman, School, and Community Policy coordinators, will continue to serve in their respective roles with Leanne Cornell supporting the SSS Center as program assistant.

September 17, 2020 - 2:20pm

Press release:

Continuing his fight to make a college education more accessible for every New Yorker, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced a plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for federal student loan borrowers.

The resolution outlines how the next president should use existing executive authority under the Higher Education Act to substantially cancel student loan debt for students in New York and across the country, and ensure there is no tax liability for federal student loan borrowers resulting from administrative debt collection.

Schumer said addressing the student loan crisis will be one of the first legislative actions he will prioritize in the new 117th Congress in January.

“Millions of young New Yorkers and their families have been crushed by student loan debt greatly impeding their ability to begin careers and build the financial resources needed to build their futures,” Senator Schumer said. “For far too long the sunny, American optimism of our young people has been clouded by crippling student debt.

"Education is supposed to be a ladder up, but studies have shown that student loans hold people back and prevent young college graduates from owning homes or starting small businesses. This holds our entire economy back, which we cannot afford after the financial devastation of COVID. That is why I will prioritize student debt forgiveness in 2021, bringing immediate relief to millions of New Yorkers and boosting our economy.”

Schumer added, “The bottom line is that the cost of college is out of control and paying for it forces millions of students and families to take on crippling debt, which greatly impedes students’ ability to get started and succeed after graduation. It is like starting a long walk with a backpack stuffed with bricks. This plan to cancel student debt on federal loans will substantially lighten that load and give recent graduates a huge boost that will launch them into a much brighter future – that will energize the economy and substantially expand our dwindling middle class.”  

The senator noted that this plan will provide complete forgiveness of student loans for more than 75 percent of borrowers across the country and at least some debt forgiveness for 95 percent of people with student loan debt. This is especially good news for the nearly 2.4 million New Yorkers with outstanding student loans and a cumulative debt of $89.5 billion as of March, according to studentaid.gov.

Schumer explained that student debt cancellation can provide immediate relief to millions who are struggling during this pandemic and recession, and give a boost to our struggling economy through a consumer-driven economic stimulus that can result in greater home-buying rates and housing stability, higher college completion rates, and greater small business formation.

More than 100 community, civil rights, consumer, and student advocacy organizations have already come out in support of using executive authority to cancel student loan debt. 

Congress has already granted the Secretary of Education the legal authority to broadly cancel student debt under section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1082(a)), which grants the Secretary the authority to modify, "... compromise, waive, or release any right, title, claim, lien, or demand, however acquired, including any equity or any right of redemption."

The Department of Education has reportedly used this authority to implement modest relief for federal student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The resolution aims to:

  • Recognize the Secretary of Education's broad administrative authority to cancel Federal student loan debt under the existing authorities of section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1082(a));
  • Call on the President of the United States to take executive action to administratively cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student loan debt for Federal student loan borrowers using existing legal authorities under such section 432(a), and any other authorities available under the law;
  • Encourage the President of the United States, in taking such executive action, to use the executive's authority under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to ensure no tax liability for Federal student loan borrowers resulting from administrative debt cancellation;
  • Encourage the President of the United States, in taking such executive action, to ensure that administrative debt cancellation helps close racial wealth gaps and avoids the bulk of Federal student debt cancellation benefits accruing to the wealthiest borrowers; and
  • Encourage the President of the United States to continue to pause student loan payments and interest accumulation for Federal student loan borrowers for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Schumer introduced this resolution along with Senator Warren. The legislation follows their March effort to cancel student loan payments for the duration of the COVID pandemic and provide minimum $10K payoff for all Federal student loan borrowers.

September 16, 2020 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, schools, education, notify.

There are any number of reasons that a child might have the sniffles, or run a fever, or get a stomachache. But since all of these ailments are also potential symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, school districts are under instruction from the State Health Department to isolate children with these and other symptoms until its confirmed that child can't spread the disease at a school, said Rochester Regional Health Pediatrician Dr. Steven Schulz today in a Zoom conference call with reporters.

"Because of low community prevalence, there's a 99-percent chance that those symptoms are due to a different virus, that it's not COVID and that's a good thing and a good place that we're starting out with," Schulz said.

"But because we don't want COVID to spread in the schools and break out, we are being very stringent. Actually, it's the Department of Health that's been very stringent with regulations on what's required to eventually return to school."

If a child goes home with a potential COVID-19 symptom, that child can't return to school unless there is a negative COVID-19 test, and the child is again symptom-free, and a doctor has cleared the child to return to school.

The reason a child must be symptom-free even after a negative test for COVID-19, Schulz said, is because of the small percentage of COVID tests that return a false negative.

Schulz serves on the Finger Lakes Region School Reopening Task Force and is one of the people responsible for writing school reopening guidelines in the region. RRH, parent hospital group for UMMC in Batavia, sponsored today's press conference on what parents should know as their children return to school.

Possible COVID-19 symptoms that could lead to a child being kept out of school include runny nose, congestion, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, poor appetite.

"There's a whole host of conditions that can cause all of those things, not just COVID," Schulz said. "And so many kids do have chronic conditions, such as seasonal allergies that can have overlapping symptomatology."

For children with chronic conditions, a doctor can verify those conditions and letters written as needed to allow those children to return to school.

What the main focus is on, he said, is the development of new, or different, or worsening symptoms. 

"Every school district has implemented a screening protocol for students and parents to go through before that student set foot sets foot on campus If they screened positive for any of those," Schulz said. "Again, focusing on new and worsening symptoms, in particular, and those would be reasons for an evaluation with the health care provider.

"Obviously, the big one would be a fever. If a child has a fever, they certainly would need to have additional evaluation. So we, of course, would encourage families if there is any concern that their child might have symptoms that are consistent with COVID to contact their health care provider for the next steps."

If a child at a school does test positive, the Health Department will take over, conduct contact tracing, and determine if any other children were exposed and take proper precautions as necessary. If proper social distancing has been maintained and masks are worn properly, it may not be necessary to quarantine other children.

One thing parents can do to help the entire community, Schulz said, is to ensure they and their children receive a seasonal flu shot.

"It's especially important this year," Schulz said. "COVID and flu have a lot of overlapping symptoms and people can theoretically be infected with both. The concern with that is that we could overwhelm our health care system not just with COVID, but also with flu. Both together could overwhelm it even more.

"So the flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you and others around you from getting the flu. And we are encouraging everyone to get that as early as possible this year."

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