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Pembroke Central School District

Pembroke Central Schools to present $27 million budget to voters

By Howard B. Owens

At Monday's board of education meeting, the Pembroke Central School District board approved a $27,289,194 spending plan for the district.

Pembroke Superintendent Matthew Calderon said the state provided the district with no increase in foundation aid.

He said the tax levy will stay within the tax cap limit, with an increase slightly below the cap for the 13th consecutive year.

"We needed to pair down our initial budget draft by $870,000 to get down to the final number," Calderon said. "Thankfully, no current full-time employees were cut."

The proposed budget will be presented at a public hearing at 6 p.m. on May 14 at Pembroke Central School.

The budget vote is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. noon to 8 p.m. on May 21 in the high school auditorium.

Pembroke voters approve pricey capital improvement spending on schools

By Howard B. Owens

Voters in the Pembroke Central School District on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved two measures that will authorize the district to make more than $37.5 million in improvements to school facilities.

  • Proposition 1 passed 356 yes to 130 no.
  • Proposition 2 passed 269 yes to 208 no.

Here is a summary of what voters approved.

Prop 1: $35,995,000.  No additional tax impact. The local share is $6.8 million and will be covered by capital reserves.  The balance of the spending plan will be covered by state aid and paying off existing debt.

Prop 1 will: 

  • Enhance the auditorium with new house lighting and new theatre lighting 
  • Enhance the band room with acoustics, instrument storage and sink
  • Install a light pole by the band entrance
  • Renovate the pool and construct a spectator seating addition
  • Renovate the existing gymnasium and surrounding corridors
  • Renovate/relocate the locker rooms and fitness centers
  • Regrade baseball field and install proper drainage, with SOD and infield mix
  • Add/reconfigure bleachers at the main athletic field 
  • Repave the teacher lot and  front circle
  • Install a blue light system 
  • Replace PA/phone system
  • Upgrade the business office mechanical equipment 
  • Construct two permanent walls in Classrooms (500 wing)

The plan includes expanding the gym, which will address the current facility's limited seating capacity and eliminate front-row spectators from having their feet on the court during sporting events.  The upgrade will also include installing a divider curtain, adding concessions, and an upgraded scoreboard.

At the elementary school, the playground will be updated. The current playground was installed in 1995 and has lasted longer than expected, according to district documentation.

The district states:

However, the maintenance required to keep it as safe as possible has become more and more challenging over time. At the end of this past school year, we had limited access to the playground. Then, over the summer, our maintenance department made a number of repairs and alterations to address concerns that were identified by a certified playground inspector. As a result of their hard work, the playground is accessible to students this fall, with the understanding that splinters are an ongoing issue. The repairs were only a short-term fix, so it is time to assess how to repair and/or upgrade the playground more significantly to make it last another 25-30 years.

The total cost of Prop 2 is $1,535,000.  The local share is nearly 100 percent of the projected cost. State aid will cover less than one percent.

According to the district, the tax impact breaks down this way:

  • Senior/STAR, $19 ($1.58 a month)
  • Basic STAR, $30 ($2.50 a month)
  • No STAR, $37 ($3.08 a month).

For more details on the projects, click here.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Returns to Pembroke

By Jazmyne Boozer

After a short hiatus, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library returns to the Pembroke Central School District. The Kiwanis Club of Pembroke Corfu Darien, along with The Richter Family Foundation, joined forces to reintroduce this free book program to children 5 and under.

Since the beginning of its operations in 2004, the Richter Family Foundation has focused on the needs of children and educators. Now, the foundation has added Pembroke to its long list of school districts it supports.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, created by the country icon herself, was founded on the desire to inspire young children to love reading. Parents who sign their children up will receive one free book a month mailed directly to their home with the child’s name on their new book.

Parents can register online or in person at the Corfu Public Library. To be eligible for this program, children must be between the ages of birth and 5 at the time of registration.

“We’re already signing up children,” Tim Richter, president of the Richter Family Foundation, said. “Anytime [parents] want to sign up, they can sign up. May books are already ordered, so if you sign up today, you would not get your first books until June.”

A historical timeline of the Pembroke Central School District



Greg Kinal taught social studies at Pembroke High School for 52 years.  He's also a history buff, and after his retirement in 2022, for another project, he compiled a history of the school district.  He provided The Batavian with a timeline of the district's history to share with readers.

The Pembroke Central School District- A Timeline


  • In the 19th century, rural schoolhouses were strewn across towns and villages. They usually consisted of one-room buildings with a single teacher to teach a number of grade levels.
  • In 1811, the first school opened in the Town of Pembroke. It was private and was operated by Anna Horton. She ran it in her home in the village of Long’s Corners, now named Corfu.
  • In 1814, a village meeting was held to determine the future of education in the village. The meeting was held at the home of Josiah Lee, who was part of a team to accomplish this.
  • By 1819, a log schoolhouse existed on what is today Alleghany Road, the present site of the Pembroke Intermediate School.
  • The year 1820 saw the first public school open in the village of Long’s Corners.
  • The 1860s witnessed Long’s Corners now being called Corfu. In 1867, a new schoolhouse was located in Corfu at 39 South Alleghany Road. James McGraw was the teacher as well as the head of the fledgling district.
  • Twenty years later, the Corfu residents planned a new school. However, there were complications. The school would be built where an existed cemetery was located. So, in 1881, graves were relocated so the new school could be built. The location is the present site of the Intermediate School. The new building was a two-story wood-frame structure with three classrooms on the first floor and a large room upstairs for the high school. The Corfu residents were proud to witness the graduating class in 1884 of just four girls.
  • The 20th century witnessed more school expansion. In 1906, a two-story addition was added to house another elementary classroom, a cloakroom downstairs, another high school room, and a new principal’s office.
  • On June 13, 1906, the Corfu school became an accredited high school and was then known as the Corfu Union Free School District.
  • (Note: A common school district is a school district first created by legislative action back in 1812 to operate elementary schools (kindergarten through eighth grade). Even though they lack the authority to operate a high school, common school districts remain responsible for ensuring a secondary education for their resident children. The term union free school has nothing to do with unions of any kind. A union free school district is a school district generally formed from one or more common school districts to operate a high school program, which common school districts cannot do.)
  • The Corfu school became a teacher training center between 1913 and 1916, to help supply teachers to rural grade schools.
  • In 1930, a moveable building was added to the rear of the Corfu school at a cost of $2,500.
  • In the middle of the Great Depression, the Corfu Union Free School District believed a completely new building was needed to deal with a growing population. The District hired architects Harbach and Kideney to produce plans for the new school. The cost of the new school was $156,363. The new school would be funded in a number of ways. $70,363, or about half the cost would come from a New Deal program called the Public Works Administration, with $86,000 coming from a bond issue paid for by taxpayers.
  • The District believed the best location for the new building would be directly behind the school built in 1881. Ground was broken in January 1935 and the new school was completed on February 1, 1937. The old school was leveled shortly after the new school opened. The Batavia Daily News reported that the new building was a “two-story fireproof structure of red brick trimmed with Indiana limestone, 158 feet wide across the front and 56 feet on the ends and 100 feet deep in the center where the auditorium is located.” This building could house 350 students. In 1940, a new auditorium was added.


  • In 1856, a number of “interested and generous citizens” met and pledged $3,413 toward the building of a new school in East Pembroke.
  • On October 7, 1856, the Old Rural Seminary opened on School Street in East Pembroke on an acre of land donated by Rev. Daniel C. Houghton. The previous March, 15 trustees were elected to oversee the running of the school.
  • The new school had a principal named I.A. McFarlane, who was paid $600 for his services, and the teaching staff included Helen Page, Elizabeth Rich, and Helen A. Gould. In today’s world, McFarlane’s salary would be a lot higher, and there would be many more teachers.
  • Changes occurred toward the end of the century. In 1893, the Old Rural Seminary became the East Pembroke Union Free School. They could now operate a high school program.
  • Like other rural areas, East Pembroke was broken up, education-wise, into Districts that led to some consolidation. In the late 1890s, repairs were made to the East Pembroke school building at a cost of $600, and in June 1897, the East Pembroke High School graduated its first class of one member, Leona Seamans.
  • The East Pembroke School was a site to behold. The two-story structure had a cupola on top with a bell. Boys entered the building in one entrance and girls at the other.


  • In 1938, the New York State Education Department required that rural school districts be consolidated into centralized districts.
  • Corfu and East Pembroke each had to prepare their own consolidation plans. However, their plan was negated and the State mandated they join both school buildings into one district.
  • The plan instructed that the existing Corfu building would house grades 1-12. Then, a new building would be built in East Pembroke to house grades 1-9. Grades 10-12 at the existing East Pembroke School would be bused to Corfu.
  • On September 7, 1938, the Corfu Union Free School and the East Pembroke Union Free School officially became centralized.
  • The two schools, plus the 18 rural districts from the towns of Pembroke, Darien, Batavia, and Alexander, would now make up the new Corfu-East Pembroke School District.
  • The Public Works Administration (PWA) would once again play a role in the Corfu-East Pembroke District. The Batavia Daily News reported on September 30, 1938, that “controversy over school centralization in the Town of Pembroke appeared ended today with the approval of a $340,000 bond issue for construction of a combination junior high and grade school at East Pembroke and an addition to the present Corfu High School.” The $340,000 bond issue represented only 55 percent of the total cost, with the remaining 45 percent to be furnished by the PWA.
  • This building project for the school also included the construction of a bus garage, the purchase of school equipment, and acquiring land for the school and athletic field on West Avenue in East Pembroke. Also included in this monetary package were funds for the Corfu school to purchase land for an athletic field.
  • The East Pembroke School construction began on December 27, 1938, with numerous speakers, including Master of Ceremonies, and Principal Laurence B. Lane.
  • The East Pembroke School was completed for the 1940 school year. In 1958, the schools were realigned, and East Pembroke became a K-6 building, while Corfu maintained its K-12 status. (Note: Historian Lois Brockway said kindergarten did not come to Pembroke until 1949).
  • In the early 1960s, school overcrowding led to the Corfu and East Pembroke Grange halls being used for 6th-grade classes. Also, the growing student enrollment meant that regular school hours had to be adjusted. The Corfu High School went on split sessions during the 1960s, with grades 9-12 attending classes from 7:55 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. and grades 6-8 attending classes from 12:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
  • With the new buildings, students had physical education classes in the gymnasium instead of recess and playing games outdoors. Buses were now used to pick up and drop off students at their houses.


  • The student population increased in the Pembroke district, and officials realized a new high school needed to be built. The new school would be built at the corner of Routes 5 and 77. Ground was broken in August 1962, and the new junior/senior high school opened its doors in January 1964. The district principal (now called superintendent) was Laurence B. Lane.
  • The Pembroke Central School became a 7-12 building and could hold 800 students. The Corfu and East Pembroke buildings each became K-6 buildings.
  • The late 1960s brought about more improvements in the district’s buildings. An addition was added to the East Pembroke School, which opened in 1967, and a large lecture hall (the Round Room), and 17 instructional classrooms (the 500 wing) were added to the high school, along with a swimming pool, library research center, guidance offices, and a cafeteria.
  • The elementary schools saw a major educational change in 1971. The new superintendent, Dr. Richard Nealon, along with the Board of Education, decided that elementary students’ education would be better served by having the East Pembroke School be a K-2 building and the Corfu building serve as a 3-6 building, becoming the Pembroke Intermediate School.
  • This move was not popular. Some teachers in both schools chose to retire rather than switch buildings.
  • With the 1970s came more improvements. In 1972, the Wilson Choate Outdoor Education Area was dedicated along with the Kip Mantor football field.
  • On June 10, 1987, Pembroke Central School suffered a horrible tragedy. Three Pembroke students and their Driver Education teacher were killed in a DWI accident. The following year, Pembroke’s Redesign Team, part of the Art Department, created a memorial sign to be placed in front of the school. The Pembroke Community Rainbow Memorial Committee, including students, school and community members, constructed this memorial. Dedicated in 1988, it serves as a reminder of the tragedy, as well as a marquee for school events. In 2022, the memorial’s marquee was upgraded to an LED digital sign, bringing a beautiful addition to the front of the school.
  • The last major renovation at Pembroke Central School came in 2008. Taxpayers passed a $25 million bond issue to upgrade the three buildings. It took two years to complete. In those two years, infrastructure upgrades were done at the Primary and Intermediate schools, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical and lighting and plumbing. The high school received most of the updates. Tiles were replaced, and new ceilings, lighting, and floors were installed as well. New boilers were also on the list for refurbishing, along with upgrades to the technology and home economics room. The “Round Room” was turned into an art and music center, the auditorium was air-conditioned, new offices were built, and a new library complex was added.
  • The Pembroke community has a lot to be proud of with its school community. They have come a long way from Anna Horton’s 1811 school in her home, to our modern educational facilities of today. One wonders what the future holds for this dynamic community that has always risen to the challenge of caring for our most precious commodity: our children.

Submitted photos:  Top photo, students at Pembroke High School in a typing class in the 1970s.


Pembroke High School under construction in 1963.


Corfu High School.


East Pembroke Seminary.


Pembroke High School students in the 1970s.

After 52 years, Pembroke social studies teacher ready for an easier pace in life

By Howard B. Owens


A lot can change in 52 years -- monumental world events like wars, recessions, and pandemics pass by, and new inventions like mobile devices and electric cars transform lives.

But some things stay constant.  

Love, for example.

That's the case for Greg Kinal, who grew up in Elma and then accepted a job teaching social studies at Pembroke High School.

"Prior to taking the job in 1970, I had never been to Genesee County," Kinal told The Batavian on Wednesday. "I didn't know Batavia was here.  "But once I arrived in Pembroke, I fell in love with the community. I fell in love with the kids. I fell in love with the school.  It’s hard for me to come up with the idea that I’m going to be leaving.  I just love this area."

In 52 years of teaching at Pembroke, Kinal said he's taught all manner of young people -- high achievers and those who get by -- but he's found, and it's the reason he loves the kids, that they are all eager to learn.

"Sometimes you get the impression, 'oh, social studies --  groan,' but when we learn about the Vietnam War, kids bring in their grandfathers' medals, or when we talk about World War I, they talk about their family history. There is always interest in the topics we go over."

Now it's time to slow down, said the 74-year-old Kinal, who has two biological children and two stepchildren, and four grandchildren. In retirement, he still plans to be a substitute teacher, but he wants life to move at a slower pace.

"I find that I come to school on Monday and the next day, suddenly, it's Friday," Kinal said.  "I want to take it easier and not have my whole life be in a rush."

Photo illustration courtesy Pembroke Central School District.

Pembroke Central Schools honored for music program

By Press Release

Press release:

Pembroke Central School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.  Now in its 23rd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Pembroke Central School District answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“Our K-12 music department and the consistent quality of vocal and instrumental instruction it has provided to our young Dragons has been nothing short of amazing!” said Superintendent Matthew Calderón. “Receiving this designation for three years in a row is no surprise to me and will have an ongoing positive impact on the district’s music education program.”

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education. 

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

Grounds and emotional maintenance priorities for O-A, Pembroke school districts

By Joanne Beck


Editor's Note: The Batavian has reached out to all public school districts in Genesee County to check on how the budget season has been going so far. School district responses will be published as they are received.

While neither Oakfield-Alabama nor Pembroke school districts plan to eliminate any jobs, each would like to add at least one position, including a social worker and maintenance person, to the 2022-23 budget.

First up is Oakfield-Alabama Central School, which reports a tax levy “way under” the cap of 1.97 percent. With a proposed 2022-23 budget of $23,589,606, or a 10.45 percent increase, the district is looking at a 1.1 percent tax levy increase, Superintendent John Fisgus said.

Although expenses for this next year are “hard to manage and estimate at times,” the district has proposed adding three positions: one elementary school special education teacher, one maintenance worker and one guidance office secretary.

During the school board’s March 15 meeting, the need for a maintenance worker was reviewed and explained. There have been two grounds and one maintenance staff to tend to the district’s property, sports fields and building maintenance. The proposed additional position is “no reflection on staff,” Fisgus said, but is called for given the amount of work to be done. 

There are 70 acres to maintain and landscape, which gives each of the two grounds people 35 acres each. Adding a maintenance position would reduce that to about 23 acres each. Maintenance also does the winter snowplowing in addition to grooming the baseball and football fields and other outdoor areas, he said. This person would also serve as a backup for the existing staff. As it is, the district is down one grounds person, which will be replaced, he said.  

“I always thought the size of this district was small and rural, but wow, do we have land,” he said. “Especially with the capital project. We want to make sure our maintenance can keep up with the (work to be done). If someone called in … we’re very worried.”

The current staff has been doing “quite a bit of overtime” to get tasks done, Director of Facilities Jordan Yager said. “They’ve done an awesome job; they just can’t get to everything they need to get done.”

Hiring the additional position would cut down on overtime, he said. 

Good news for the district is a state aid boost of $1.5 million more or an 11 percent increase, Fisgus said. As for predicting future costs, “it's a guessing game when we don't know the outcome of the Governor's Budget,” he said. 

“With the increased costs of gasoline, electricity, and other utilities, we have to forecast out how much longer these increased expenses might continue,” he said. “The inflation rates along with the allowable levy growth factor play into our decision-making when calculating our expenditures.” 

Although revenues are up by $2,168,785 from this past year, he is concerned about Foundation Aid, which has tentatively reflected a decrease of about $100,000 from what the district expected, he said.

“That’s huge for a small rural school. We will need to wait and see what the Governor’s budget entails,” he said. “Our Board of Education is well informed to make the most appropriate and fiscally responsible decisions for our community. I praise their work and commitment to our students, staff, teachers, administrators, and school community. It also helps to have the best Business Adminstrator around to navigate these waters.”

This year’s budget ballot will include a proposition to add a student representative to the Board of Education in 2023. Fisgus is “excited for the opportunity” to have a student on the board, he said. Student ex-officios provide input and updates from the student community, and typically do not vote on district matters. 

“We will have a separate proposition on the ballot for our community to vote on this,” he said.

Pembroke Central School does not have a proposed budget as of yet, Superintendent Matthew Calderon said. District officials usually recommend a tax levy increase of about 2 percent, even though “there are times when the tax cap is far above that,” he said.

Since the tax cap formula includes a calculation for a capital outlay project, he is proceeding with caution before determining a tax levy and related increase or decrease.

“We are waiting for the state budget to pass to determine whether or not we can include a capital outlay project in the proposed budget. That decision will affect our final allowable tax cap and is to be determined,” he said. 

Total expenses are also to be determined, he said,given that “there are expenses that are out of our control.” Those expenses include the rising costs for utilities and health insurance, “which limits our capacity to expand programs for students.”

An increase in state aid, based on the governor’s initially proposed budget, was not enough to cover the district’s preliminary budget, Calderon said. That may mean some belt-tightening if necessary.

“We are prepared to reduce costs to eliminate any deficit,” he said. “And a few retirements may assist in doing that.”

Pembroke is looking at adding one social worker position to “better support the social-emotional needs of students, families and employees,” he said. There are no plans to eliminate any positions.

As for the budget process, there is one big, unanswered question.

“It is challenging to propose and finalize a school district budget when the state budget is late,” Calderon said. 

School budget votes are on May 17, and each school district will conduct a hearing/presentation at least one week prior to the vote. Oakfield-Alabama's hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 10  and Pembroke's hearing is at 6:30 p.m. May 10.

File photo: A new tennis court at Oakfield-Alabama is one of the items needing maintenance at the district, officials say. Photo by Howard Owens.

More than $2 million awarded in bids for Pembroke schools project

By Joanne Beck

Pembroke Central School Board approved more than $2 million in bids for its 2021 capital improvement project during a special meeting conducted this past Thursday.

Superintendent Matthew Calderon said the meeting was called so that the bids and project could move forward “sooner than later.”

A total of $2,139,223.25 was approved for the following individual bids:

  • $496,775.79 to Edward Holme, Inc. for site work$756,000 to Willett Builders, Inc. for general trades work
  • $107,000 to Parise Mechanical, Inc. for mechanical work
  • $445,000 to DV Brown & Associates for plumbing
  • $293,913.73 to Astroturf Corp. for track resurfacing
  • $40,533.73 to Johnson Controls, Inc. for energy-efficient temperature controls

The project, approved by district voters in 2021, covers renovations and upgrades that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and per the district’s Building Conditions survey. Work includes:

Pembroke High School - Install auditorium ADA stage lift, ADA upgrades in restrooms throughout the building, install discus cage fencing (a safety issue), resurface the track, which has been deemed to be "at the end of its life."

Pembroke Intermediate School - Install auditorium ADA stage lift, ADA upgrades to the first and second floor main restrooms, retrofit the existing auditorium house lights, replacement of flooring in corridors, cafeteria, and select rooms.

Pembroke Primary School - Install auditorium ADA stage lift, asphalt reconstruction of parking lot and driveway around the building.

District officials have said the project will not affect taxpayers since a majority of the cost — 73 percent — is to be paid from state aid, and $1.1 million from the Capital Reserve Fund.

Below, a video of the project presentation via Pembroke Central School:

Pembroke board cancels regular meeting, schedules a special one for this week

By Joanne Beck

Pembroke Central School’s regular board meeting on Feb. 22 has been canceled, however, an impromptu meeting has been scheduled for this week, Superintendent Matthew Calderon says.

The original meeting was scheduled during the board’s reorganizational session this past July. It was more recently deemed unnecessary due to no “pressing business," Calderon said to The Batavian on Monday.

An Unexpected “more pressing issue" arose, he said Tuesday, prompting a special board meeting to be set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the district office, corner of routes 5 and 77. 

“Basically, we recently had a bid opening for our ADA/BCS capital project, and the board needs to award the bids sooner than later in order to start the project on time,” Calderon said. “That is the main reason for the meeting, and we will also approve a few other items.”

The capital project stems from Americans with Disabilities Act and Building Conditions Survey (ADA/BCS) issues. A meeting agenda is to be posted on the district’s website by Wednesday, he said.

For more information, go to:

Batavia Career and Tech Education Center announces 40 national honor society inductees

By Billie Owens

Press release:

In April, the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) Chapter announced the names of 40 career and technical student inductees. These students met the rigorous criteria set forth by this national organization.

The minimum grade-point average for acceptance is a 3.0. Students are also selected based upon credit hours completed, attendance, volunteer service, and membership in other student organizations.

Due to COVID-19 event attendance restrictions, this ceremony will held be during the school day later in May. 

The 2021 Batavia Career and Technical Education Center NTHS Inductees

​Alexander Central School District

  • Norah Crawford, Metal Trades
  • Allision Kelly, Cosmetology
  • Julia Lennon, Cosmetology
  • Courtney Seymour, Criminal Justice
  • Brayden Woods, Building Trades

Attica Central School District

  • Hope Bell, Building Trades
  • Samantha Cordier, Criminal Justice
  • Matthew Parkhurst, Metal Trades
  • Olivia Rudolph, Criminal Justice
  • Katie Stockschlaeder, Health Dimensions
  • Brooke Whitton, Building Trades

Batavia Central School District

  • Jack Bruggman, Graphic Arts
  • Liliana Espinoza, Culinary Arts
  • Alaina Every, Cosmetology
  • KayLeigh Mayeu, Criminal Justice
  • Alannah Penkszyk, Animal Science
  • Robin Scroger, Animal Science
  • Kurstin Smith, Graphic Arts
  • Skarlette Tellier-Wilcox, Cosmetology

Byron-Bergen Central School District

  • Aleigha Shallenberger, Graphic Arts

Caledonia-Mumford Central School District

  • Lillias Bell, Metal Trades
  • Molly Ryan, Health Dimensions
  • Jayden Thompson, Diesel Mechanics

Le Roy Central School District

  • David Gracie, Auto Trades: Collision, Custom and Restoration
  • MaKayla Grant, Criminal Justice
  • Adam Risewick, Electro-Mechanical Trades
  • Taeya Starkey, Diesel Mechanics
  • Garrett Talbot, Building Trades
  • Zach Vanderhoof, Electro-Mechanical Trades

Oakfield-Alabama Central School District

  • Zachary Bradt, Graphic Arts

Pavilion Central School District

  • Ayrianna Hurlburt, Health Dimensions
  • Nikolai Hutchings, Animal Science
  • Savanna Kenyon, Diesel Mechanics
  • Toby Stappenbeck, Building Trades 
  • Alanso True, Building Trades
  • Alexa Wolcott, Culinary Arts

Pembroke Central School District

  • Alex Lamb, Building Trades
  • Ashley Pfalzer, Cosmetology
  • Tia Stone, Criminal Justice
  • Riley Yager, Graphic Arts

National Poetry Month: 'Sick' by Shel Silverstein read by Matthew Calderon

By Howard B. Owens
Video Sponsor
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For National Poetry Month, we asked several local school superintendents to read a poem for us. The first submission comes from Matthew Calderon, superintendent of Pembroke Central schools. He's reading "Sick" by Shel Silverstein.

New York State association honors Pembroke Central transportation supervisor

By Mike Pettinella


The 2020 Art Schock Award presented by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation to a transportation supervisor for effective communication and leadership skills has the name of Donna Hackett on it but in the recipient’s eyes, it belongs to the entire Pembroke Central School District family.

Contacted today by The Batavian, Hackett’s first word was just that – Pembroke.

“Pembroke is an amazing place to let all of this happen,” she said. “They certainly support me in ways that are outstanding for a little district like we are. To me, this is a team award; one person can’t make anything happen.”

She then thanked administration for being receptive to bus garage needs.

“Our little Pembroke bus garage is such a team. The principals support us, the athletic director supports us. Everybody works together. And our drivers are amazing, caring hearts. It’s a districtwide award, I truly believe that,” she said.

NYAPT representatives Peter Lawrence, of Fairport, and David Dwyer, of Geneseo, traveled to Pembroke Superintendent Matthew Calderon’s office on Jan. 29 for the virtual presentation, which can be seen on YouTube. The award was formally announced last Friday.

All of the bus transportation employees lined the superintendent’s office – wearing face coverings and social distancing -- to witness the presentation.

Lawrence shared information about Hackett, who has served as transportation supervisor for the past 17 of her 30 years at the school, as well as comments submitted by Pembroke staff members who supported her.

He credited her for participating in the school bus rodeo and organizing a poster contest, for leadership positions with the Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department and at her church, plus her involvement with the American Red Cross. She also served on the New York State Bus Customer Advisory Panel for years in an effort to improve bus safety.

One of Hackett’s colleagues emphasized the numerous qualities that she brings to work every day -- sincere enthusiasm, integrity, communication skills, loyalty, decisiveness, managerial skills, empowerment and encouragement.

Others spoke of her ability as a mentor and desire to make things as efficient as possible.

In an emotional tribute, Calderon’s remarks focused on Hackett’s leadership and her role in keeping Pembroke students in the classroom.

“The governing authorities would tell us that it’s not essential for our kids to be in school every day. And by extension, they would say that school bus drivers are not essential,” he said. “This year, Pembroke is proving how essential it is for kids to be in school every day – and the day starts with the bus drivers and they’re led by you.”

“I want to thank you for your leadership and I am super optimistic that we will go through the 2020-21 school year without ever having to close. I believe that, and it all has to do with you and your fleet. You are super, super deserving of this award.”

Hackett said she is proud that Pembroke has been open full time through COVID-19, adding that she has “learned and shared a lot of information through NYAPT to make this happen.”

“We want Pembroke to stay open and we’re doing all that we need to do," she said. "Honestly, I have had no illness of my drivers this whole time, since September. Everyone has been here every day, just doing it." 

She said the staff consists of two mechanics, four bus monitors and 27 drivers with a fleet of 29 vehicles. Things have been busier lately since interscholastic sports and field trips are back on the schedule.

“It’s kind of extra because we’re running jayvees separately from varsity,” she said. “We’re not putting too many people together at once, so it makes for a little extra work but the kids are going back to their sports and that’s exciting.”

Hackett recalled starting as a substitute bus driver in 1990.

“I just fell in love with school bus transportation. As a bus driver, that wasn’t something I had planned on doing, but my landlady at the time was a bus driver and suggested it to me. It was perfect for our family,” she said.

“I had a newborn daughter. I thought that I could be the working mom and just couldn’t do it, so I became a bus driver, and that was phenomenal. Falling in love with all of these kids here. And when the supervisor position came open, I took that.”

She said her bachelor’s degree in Accounting Management has helped her in her job.

“It worked really well as we were able to revamp our district and then to learn the industry. NYAPT was absolutely instrumental in Pembroke being up on all their rules and regulations, and best practices. They gave me the tools to make Pembroke as amazing as it is.”

Calderon mentioned that Hackett has served as a NYAPT officer, providing important input into developing numerous state-level goals and objectives.

“She keeps us informed about important changes to the law, needed advocacy and best practices. Her efforts have resulted in our having the safest (and best looking) fleet of buses in our region!,” he said. “Her cost-effective systems have saved us time and money in maintenance costs. She advocates for students, for drivers and mechanics alike.”

A Pembroke High graduate, she and her husband, Bruce, live in East Pembroke. They have two daughters -- Jes Montroy, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) teacher at Pembroke High, and Kate Miller, an engineer at Moog Inc. in East Aurora -- and a grandson, Oakley, a first-grader at Pembroke Primary School.

Established in 1983, the award is named after Art Schock, a longtime transportation supervisor at Sweet Home Central School who served as the organization’s fourth president in 1980. He passed away in December of that year.

Dwyer said recipients of this award demonstrate traits such as dedication, compassion, leadership, innovation and the ability to communicate – characteristics embodied by Schock that helped build and advance the mission of NYAPT.

Photo: Donna Hackett displays her award from the NYS Association for Pupil Transportation in front of the adoring eyes of her Pembroke Central School District bus garage employees. Submitted photo.

Pembroke voters approve Intermediate School bus garage renovations by a wide margin

By Mike Pettinella

Pembroke Central School District residents Thursday overwhelmingly approved a $1.69-million multifaceted capital project for repairs and renovation of the bus garage at the Intermediate School at 58 Alleghany Road (Route 77) in Corfu.

The work is being funded by state aid and $400,000 from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund, and will have no impact on the local property tax rate, according to Superintendent Matthew Calderon.

The vote was 139 in favor and 35 against.

Improvements to the bus garage include replacing: the bus lift; fuel island; interior lighting; windows in the lift bay; offices and drivers’ area; entry doors; and overhead door operators.

Additional work involves adding electrical power on three light poles, repairing building electrical ground, repointing brick, splitting the heat system to provide greater efficiency, and installing screen wall/wind screens and parts storage shelving.

The district's board of education has scheduled another capital project proposition for May to address Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and Building Condition Survey issues, Calderon said, noting that the spring proposal also will not result in an increase to the taxpayer.

Corfu's Reyncrest Dairy Farm wins 2020 Dairying award, donates milk to Pembroke Central School

By Press Release

Submitted photo and press release:

When Lindsay Juliano from the American Dairy Association North East contacted Jim Tyx, Food Service director for Pembroke schools, he was surprised and thrilled to hear the news that she had to share.

Reyncrest Dairy Farm in Corfu was selected as a 2020 Dairying for Tomorrow Award Winner. This award recognizes dairy farm families who display a passion for dairying and uses practices that help lead their farm and the industry into the future. 

As part of their recognition as an award recipient, the Reyncrest Dairy Farm chose Pembroke Central School to receive a donation of one milk barrel and two insulated bags, a $500 value. 

“We are honored that the farm chose our local school to receive this gift,” said Jim Tyx, Food Service director for Pembroke and Alexander central schools.  

Kelly Reynolds, of Reyncrest Farms, noted, “We are so excited that the students at Pembroke Schools have more access to milk and dairy products and are able to enjoy a cold serving of dairy thanks to American Dairy Association Northeast and the Dairying for Tomorrow awards!

"Our family works hard to provide the best care possible for our cows so that our community can enjoy these products.”

According to the American Dairy Association of the Northeast’s website, the Dairying for Tomorrow Awards, sponsored by American Dairy Association North East, are designed to recognize local dairy farmers and showcase the unique actions they take, on and off the farm, to help sustain and improve the dairy industry.

Genesee Valley BOCES operates a Regional Food Service, a program that 21 area school districts subscribe to. Pembroke Central School District is one of them.

Photo: Green shirt on left, Julie Phelps; pink shirt, Lynn Dilimone; gray shirt cutting the ribbon, Heather Starzynski; gray shirt holding check, Brittany Schafer; pink shirt on the right, Sara langewicz.

Genesee County central school districts unveil plans for reopening this fall

By Mike Pettinella

Genesee County central school districts have sent their reopening proposals to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and to the New York State Education Department.

It must be noted that the governor ultimately will determine whether or not schools may reopen. He is expected to announce his decision sometime next week.

Complete reopening plans can be found on the schools’ websites. All plans must comply with guidelines set forth by the state Education Department, Center for Disease Control, Genesee County Health Department and the governor’s executive orders.

The Batavian posted the Batavia City School District’s hybrid reopening plan on Tuesday.


Superintendent Catherine Huber said the district is proposing a hybrid reopening plan, based on the building capacity and in alignment with the aforementioned guidelines.

It includes designating Wednesdays as a virtual day for all students “to allow us to engage in scheduled deep cleaning on a weekly basis in addition to our regular daily cleaning routine.”

  • Prekindergarten through fifth grade – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in school.
  • BOCES CTE – Monday and Tuesday at BOCES, Thursday and Friday in school.
  • Sixth through eighth grade – Monday and Tuesday in school, Thursday and Friday virtual.
  • Ninth through 12th grade – Monday and Tuesday virtual, Thursday and Friday in school.
  • Special education/English language learning – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in school.


Superintendent Mickey Edwards released the B-B plan, which (like Alexander’s plan) divides students into five groups – one with 100-percent in-school learning, three with a combination of in-school and remote learning and one with 100-percent remote learning.

  • Universal Prekindergarten through fifth grade (elementary school) – All students in school.
  • Cohort 1, sixth through 12th grade – Students with last name A-L – Monday and Tuesday in school; Wednesday through Friday remote learning.
  • Cohort 2, sixth through 12th grade – Students with last name M-Z, Monday through Wednesday remote learning; Thursday and Friday in school.
  • Cohort 3, sixth through 12th grade students with special considerations – Every day except Wednesday in school.
  • Virtual Cohort, K-12th grade – 100-percent remote learning for students whose parents have opted not to send their children back to school.


Superintendent Ned Dale said his committee “collectively agreed that the safest plan would be to have 50 percent of the students come every other day.”

He said the goal is to review the wellness of our students and staff on Oct. 1 and then every two weeks after that to increase capacity.

Two groups of students, Maroon and White, have been established based on last names to “allow them to sit on the bus together, possibly sit at a cafeteria table together, as social distancing is not required with members of the same household.”

Dale said that a 50-percent model will allow students to not wear a mask when they are seated in the classroom. He also noted that districts are required to accommodate students and families that choose to do distance learning and that students with special needs may be required to attend more often.


Superintendent Merritt Holly advised that the district has formulated a hybrid plan model, dividing the students from kindergarten to 12th grade into two groups – Team Jell-O, which will be in school on Monday and Tuesday, and Team Oatka, which will be in school on Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday has been set aside as a full remote or virtual learning day for all students.

  • Team Jell-O – Monday and Tuesday in school; Wednesday through Friday, remote learning.
  • Team Oatka -- Thursday and Friday in school; Monday through Wednesday, remote learning.

“This allows us to have half our student population (in school) on Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday,” he said, adding that if parents don't feel comfortable sending their child back to school, the district is offering remote learning five days a week.

He said parents can choose one option for their child, either in-person instruction on two days, remote three days OR full remote five days.

The reopening plan is divided into the following categories as recommended by the state Education Department and Department of Health -- communications, operations, health & safety, transportation, food service, facilities/building procedures, academics/schedule, social emotional learning, athletics/extracurriculars.


Superintendent John Fisgus said the plan is to have 100-percent in-person learning and teaching for the fall.

The start of classes is delayed until Sept. 11 for extra training and guidance for staff. Fisgus said that this is made possible by utilizing two additional superintendent conference days at the beginning of the year.

“We are in a lucky spot that we can social distance our students while in the classrooms so students can remove their masks during instruction time,” he reported.

The O-A reopening plan is divided into seven categories – communications, operations, health/safety protocols, building procedures, academics, athletics, social/emotional supports.


Superintendent Kenneth Ellison said the school’s reopening committee hasn’t reached a final decision on which of the three options submitted to the state – in-school, remote learning or a mix of the two – will be set into motion at the outset of the school year.

“We will continue to work on what school will look like in September once Governor Cuomo makes his final decision on school reopening on August 7th,” he said. “Despite the scope of the state Education Department document, we still have many logistics to sort out to strike the balance between offering a program that is both educationally strong and meets the numerous health and safety requirements dictated by the state.

Ellison noted that the state Education Department defines these plans as “living documents” so changes will be made as new information becomes available.


Superintendent Matthew Calderon reported that the district is giving all K-12 parents the option for 100-percent online/remote learning or in-person learning, with the district set to send parents a summary of the details in an automated message before the plan is posted to its website.

He issued the following information:

  • Students who participate in 100-percent online/remote learning must commit to do so at least on a quarterly basis, and will use the Google Classroom Suite and ClassTag to participate in lessons and receive information about learning expectations.
  • Students who participate in-person will follow a normal schedule. Teachers will use the Google Classroom Suite and ClassTag to enhance the learning experience for students who attend in person. The district will rearrange classroom spaces and use clear desk shields to maximize social distancing and reduce the need to wear masks.
  • By using the Google Classroom Suite and ClassTag, the district will be prepared to quickly transition to a hybrid/alternating-day schedule and/or 100-percent online/remote learning for all, if needed. In such cases, students with disabilities and students with extenuating circumstances would be prioritized to continue with in-person learning to the fullest extent possible, if permitted.

Pembroke Central: Voters OK budget, buses; support Lang, Wood for school board

By Mike Pettinella

Voting on Pembroke Central School's $23,679,522 budget, proposition and board of education election:

Proposition #1 – Budget
Yes – 952
No – 543

Proposition #2 – Purchase of school buses
Yes – 893
No – 601

School Board – Unexpired Term
Daniel Lang – 1,311
School Board – Five-Year Term
Heather Wood – 1,258

Corfu Public Library Board
Kimberly Harlach
Julie Hengenius
Kristie Miller

50 years and still going strong: Pembroke community honors Social Studies teacher Greg Kinal

By Mike Pettinella





Greg Kinal vividly recalls the first time he set foot on the Pembroke Central High School grounds in the weeks leading up to the 1970-71 school year.

“I remember the first day I came here,” Kinal said earlier today, reflecting upon a teaching career in Dragon country that has reached the 50-year mark and shows no signs of ending. “You see that large sign (on the front of the main entrance). Well, the old sign was, and I’m not kidding, maybe this big (using his hand to show that the letters were maybe eight inches high) and made of steel.”

Kinal said he drove from his Elma home to his interview – the first time he had ever been to Genesee County – but wasn’t sure if he was in the right place.

“I didn’t know if this was the school. So, I pulled into the driveway and I remember squinting, looking at the sign, and then I saw Pembroke, and then I parked and went in for my interview,” he said. “And I remember distinctly the interview.”

He said he was hired by "Prof" Lane, the superintendent, and Mr. Choate.

“They called him Prof Lane and there was a reason – you didn’t talk back to Prof Lane,” he said. "And technology-wise, they gave me a piece of chalk and a chalkboard. Plus, I also got a paddle, and they told me to use it. Of course, times have changed since then.”

Yes, teaching has changed significantly over five decades, but Kinal’s classroom savvy and flair have set a standard of excellence that is valued by his colleagues, administrators, parents, grandparents and former students.

The community celebrated Kinal’s long and productive career today with a 50-vehicle parade that started at Pembroke Town Park and ended a short distance later at the school where he and his family waited to show their appreciation. The caravan was led by a Genesee County Sheriff’s patrol car and included a Village of Corfu police car driven by Officer David Drozdiel (in photo above with Kinal).

“This is unbelievable to me,” said Kinal, 72, who has taught eighth-grade Social Studies at Pembroke for all these years and now also teaches a 12th-grade Sociology class. “I think there are many deserving teachers in Genesee County and me being singled out, it’s very humbling to me.”

Kinal, a well-known expert of history who speaks frequently at events throughout Western New York, said his energy level hasn’t waned; in fact, he’s as enthusiastic as ever.

“They didn’t clinically diagnose me as ADHD*, but I’m convinced because I can’t sit still,” he said. “And I got to tell you, just to be home teaching virtually, I’m out of my mind. I need to be in these halls, I need to be walking and I thank God that I have this affliction because I’m just as crazy as my eighth-graders. I think the day that I’m not (full of energy) maybe it’s time (to retire). But not yet.”

He said he’s “in love” with the spirit exhibited by eighth-graders and is looking forward to continuing his annual practice of taking students to a field trip to Washington, D.C.

“We’re going on our 49th trip in June and a week later, the 50th, because I had to cancel this year,” he said. “The community is so good here and I would never leave.”

Alan Miano and Laurie Rudolph, who helped organize the parade, both graduated from Pembroke in 1980 and both gushed with admiration of their former teacher.

“Greg is the type of teacher that will take the underachiever -- the unruly students that all the other teachers are having problems with and he brings them in,” Miano said. “And he’ll take them to Washington, which he’s done for 50 years. A lot of other teachers think he’s crazy and would say, ‘How can you take that kid on a field trip for three days? I wouldn’t want him for three minutes?’ You know what, he’s never had a problem.”

When it was mentioned that he must have changed a lot of young lives for the better, Miano pointed to himself.

“I’m one of them,” he said. “If it was up to the other teachers, they would have never let me go on the trip. I was one of those unruly students, and then I ended up going into teaching.”

Miano also taught Social Studies at Pembroke, retiring last June after a nearly 34-year career.

“When I retired, I was begging Greg to retire because I felt like a quitter, because Greg was still going strong,” Miano said, calling Greg a mix of Cal Ripken, Yoda and Dr. Phil.

“You can go to him with your problems. He’s a phenomenal teacher. If you walk into his classroom, the kids are just drawn in and he never has any discipline problems. Simply put, he’s the best,” he said.

Rudolph, a teaching assistant who used to work with Kinal, said she rallied the community together through “Fans of Greg Kinal” Facebook page, also crediting Ron Funke, Gary Diegelman, Ed Gutowski and her daughter, Debbie Bonn, for assisting.

“Greg's not retiring, but we didn’t want 50 years to pass by without honoring him,” she said. “He probably will never retire, so this is like his retirement/celebration.”

She said that Kinal has impacted thousands of lives in the school district.

“I, my children, my grandchildren – we all were taught by Greg. He is a mentor, a supporter and a nurturer and he means a lot to all of the people in our community.”

Kinal’s wife, Jackie, and children, Tracy, Scott and Marty also attended the celebration. He and his wife have four grandchildren, including Drew Monti, a popular harness horse racing driver at Batavia Downs.

Oh, and getting back to that old sign on the school building.

“Years ago, when they were making the new sign, I said to the custodians, ‘What are you going to do with the old sign?’ Kinal offered. “They said it’s trash. Well, I’ve got it and it’s in my garage. I repainted it black and mounted it in my garage … and I see it every day.”

*Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Five questions for board of education candidates: Pembroke Central School

By Mike Pettinella

The Batavian has reached out to school board candidates in Genesee County to get their answers to five questions prior to voting on June 9.

At the Pembroke Central School District, Daniel Lang is running for a one-year unexpired term and Heather Wood is running for a new five-year term.

The questions are as follows:

1 -- What is your position on your school district’s proposed budget for 2020-21? What parts do you support? What parts would you change if you could?

2 -- Are teachers in your district compensated adequately?

3 -- With what we know now about COVID-19, should schools reopen in the fall?

4 -- Are you satisfied that your district responds to parents’ complaints and concerns in a way that ensures the parents know they have been heard?

5 -- What two books published since The Enlightenment have influenced you the most?


1 -- I am in full support of this year’s school budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The District Board and Administrative staff have reviewed all options and strategically planned accordingly with the interest of keeping the Pembroke district moving in the right direction. With this budget encompassing a zero percent tax increase for our residents, we will still be able to continue to provide the absolute best for our students, teachers and district.

2 -- I feel as though the teachers in our district are compensated adequately and have justified the importance of going above and beyond expectations, especially during the recent, trying times that we all have been experiencing.

3 -- Yes, schools should reopen in the fall, and I feel it is vital for the students to return and feel safe in doing so. It will be critical to assure that the buildings and transportation remain sanitary and follow guidelines set by the governing bodies. I feel that there is value in the teacher/student interaction which helps aid in the learning process through individualized communication, and social interaction which cannot be grasped through distance learning. The relationship built with that of a dedicated teacher is irreplaceable and should continue moving forward.

4 -- Yes, I am satisfied with the way the district responds to parents and concerns. With that being said, I also feel that we should be continually looking for new and better ways to be communicating with parents. Complacency breeds mediocrity and steals potential. We all have the ability to improve and use mistakes or difficulties as a way to learn and enhance our current methods. This area of the district is no exception to that. As we work together as a team, the district and parents, we will continue to grow and understand each other in new and exciting ways.

5 -- When I read, I like to dive into books that provide encouragement, hope and answers for real life situations. If I were to choose two books that I have read that fit in this category, they would be When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald, and Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.


1 -- My fellow Board members and I all approved of the 2020-21 budget which is being presented to the community. Our Superintendent and School Accountant have worked diligently to lead the charge in bringing us possible scenarios during a time when aid at the State Level was being questioned on what seemed like a daily basis. Collectively we were of the mindset to not put any additional burdens on the community during the uncertain times we are currently facing and were pleased to present a 0 percent tax levy increase. It is always a hard decision when discussing what areas to cut from, but rest assured the needs of the student are always first and foremost in our minds. We will continue to be the very best District we can be no matter what the numbers say and invite the community to contact the District Offices if they have questions moving forward.

2 -- Addressing the question if I feel that teachers are compensated adequately, I would say that it’s not a simple answer. We need to look at the community we live in and remember that higher pay will be reflected in higher taxes. Recently, we did make changes on our starting pay for teachers to bring them more in line with the Genesee Region. That being said, we will continue to provide top notch teachers to our students because that is what we are mandated to do.

3 -- I am both hopeful and optimistic that schools will indeed reopen in the Fall and I do advocate for this. Will things look different moving forward? Yes, most definitely as we all implement new State guidelines that will need to be respectful to our students, staff, parents and administration. We need to be mindful of what will work and what will not work for OUR District. While it is true that Pembroke has done a fantastic job in transitioning our students to online learning these past few months – it in no way should be seen as a permanent replacement for educating our youth and I am quite frankly, offended by anyone who says such things. Students need teachers just as much as teachers need the students. A school is a living, breathing institution and all the connections that are made within its walls are priceless.

4 -- Pertaining to the COVID situation - I feel Pembroke has done a remarkable job communicating the educational materials to the students and their parents. From our Superintendent, building Principals, and teachers – they all got the word out on a weekly basis (sometimes daily) keeping everyone informed of what was going on pertaining to finishing the year out strongly and what the expectations were for each student. This was all new to everyone and it was important that we all worked together in this endeavor. I do know for example, that some families in the community have reached out to our Superintendent for clarification on end of the year grading. He responded and made the policies clear as to what would be required to finish the year strong. In regards to things other than the COVID situation – finishing up my fifth year on the Board, I honestly feel we do a good job as a District addressing the communities concerns, however – that being said – our Board meetings are advertised and the public is ALWAYS welcome to contact our District Clerk if there’s something specific that is on their mind that they’d like to bring to the Board. Some questions can simply be answered from the Superintendent or by him directing the parent/community member to the appropriate administration before it gets to the Board level. If our community has questions, it is a Board member’s job to try our best to address the concerns.

5 -- I can name many books that have influenced me, but there are two that stand out – and to the readers they may seem quite simplistic but to me they mean the world. I read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White when I was about 10 and it both sparked my passion for reading then and now. Looking back through the adult eyes it just amazes me of the pure innocence of childhood and how doing the right thing matters. Next would be The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – it reminds me of the importance of relationships/connections and how what you do has a domino effect on everything else that happens in the world. This is how I look at schools – relationships and being a good person mean something just as much as the grades do.

All school district budget votes set for June 9 by absentee balloting

By Mike Pettinella

As Genesee County school districts gear up for 2020-21 budget voting and school board elections, The Batavian is providing the following capsule summaries to keep residents informed about key dates, propositions and candidates.

Per Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order, all school districts in New York State will hold annual budget voting and board elections on June 9 through absentee balloting.

Absentee ballots will be mailed to eligible voters and must be returned to the district offices by 5 p.m. on June 9 or they will not be considered or counted – no exceptions.

It is essential to remember that additional state aid cuts could be coming and would affect districts’ budgets going forward.

Details about the schools’ budgets and candidates as well as contact information can be found on their respective websites.


Budget by the numbers -- The proposed budget is $18,540,258, an increase of $315,497 from the 2019-20 plan, with no increase in the tax levy. The budget (virtual) hearing is set for 7 p.m. on May 26 via Zoom using the log-in details posted on the district website, and will be available for viewing on the website’s BOE link starting on May 27.

School board election – One position is up for election for a term of five years commencing July 1, 2020 and expiring on June 30, 2025 to succeed Richard Guarino, whose term expires on June 30, 2020. Candidates are Christopher Mullen and Diane Steel.


Budget by the numbers – The board approved a $51,470,725 spending plan with cuts in staffing and other items but no property tax increase. The public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on June 2.

Additional propositions – Richmond Memorial Library trustee voting, with Kristi Evans the only candidate at this time for a five-year term starting on July 1, 2020. As two seats are open, the other will be filled via the write-in candidate process. Jackson Primary playground, a $618,000 capital project to construct an age-appropriate playground at Jackson Primary School.

School board election – Incumbents Barbara Bowman and Tanni Bromley along with recent appointee Alice Ann Benedict are running for three board seats. The candidates receiving the most votes will serve from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023, while the third-place candidate’s term will be June 9, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

Website –


Budget by the numbers – The board adopted a proposed budget of $24,599,800, including a tax levy of $9,024,961 – an increase in the property tax rate of 1.99 percent. The public hearing on the budget is set for 5 p.m. on May 28, and will be recorded and placed on the district website.

Additional propositionsBus purchase, proposal is for two 70-passenger school buses at a maximum cost of $246,000, with 90 percent covered by state aid. The tax income is estimated at $2 per year on a house assessed at $100,000, according to Superintendent Mickey Edwards.

School board election – Three people are running for two open trustee positions – incumbents Tammy Menzie and Amy Phillips and challenger Lynn Smith. The terms are for three years, beginning on July 1.


Budget by the numbers – The board is meeting tonight via Zoom to consider the $10,269,322 spending plan that calls for a slight tax increase that equates to an increase of $39 for the entire year based on a house assessed at $150,000. The public hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. on May 27, also via Zoom.

Additional propositionRe-establish a vehicle and transportation reserve and school bus purchase. Superintendent Ned Dale reporting that the district wishes use existing reserve funds to purchase a 65-passenger bus and a 24-passenger bus with a handicap lift.

School board election – Incumbent Michael Riner is the only slated candidate for his seat, which expires this year.



Budget by the numbers – The board approved a $26,334,488 budget that includes a 1.99 percent property tax increase (which is below the district’s tax cap of 2.8 percent) and does not add new positions or programs. The budget hearing presentation will be posted on the district's website at on June 2.

School board election – Incumbents Richard Lawrence and Jacalyn Whiting are running for the two three-year terms.

Website –


Budget by the numbers – The board approved a $21,123,746 budget, up 1.4 percent from last year, with a zero percent property tax increase. Superintendent John Fisgus reported that the budget preserves all educational programs and extracurricular activities, adding that tiered plans are in place if the state makes additional cuts in aid. The public hearing on the budget is set for 10 a.m. on June 1 and will be considered “adjourned” as it will be conducted remotely.

Additional propositions – Capital improvement project, $15.3 million, with no impact upon taxpayers. Major goals of the project include safety/security measures, code and handicap accessible updates, building repairs, infrastructure upgrades and landscaping. School bus purchase, $135,000, to be financed.

School board election – Five candidates are running for three open positions – Jackie Yunker Davis, Daniel N. Groth, Douglas Russo, Shanda Spink and Pete Zeliff. The candidate receiving the most votes will begin serving on June 10 with the term ending on June 30, 2023. The terms of the two candidates with the second and third most votes will be July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023.

Website –


Budget by the numbers – The board adopted a $17,684,182 budget with no change in the tax levy and no major changes beyond contractual increases and expected costs related to the coronavirus. The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 26 via Zoom. Links will be provided in the district newsletter and on our web page once they are created. 

Additional propositions – Change of board of education term, with the proposal calling for making all seven seats five-year terms – an increase of two years from the current term.

School board election -- Incumbents Margaret Gaston and Callin Ayers-Tillotson are running for re-election.

Website –


Budget by the numbers – The board adopted a $23,679,522 budget with a zero percent tax levy increase and no property tax increase. The budget hearing will be held remotely on May 26, and the adjourned budget hearing will be available to view on the district website BoardDocs link beginning on May 27. The district's Dragon Tales publication will be mailed next week with all the details.

Additional propositions – Purchase of buses, with no impact upon taxes.

School board election – Dan Lang is running for a one-year unexpired term and Heather Wood is running for a new five-year term. Additionally, an election to fill three seats on the Corfu Public Library is scheduled. Kristie Miller, Julie Hengenius and Tony Kutter are up for election for three-year terms.

Pembroke schools named a Best Community for Music Education by The NAMM Foundation

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Pembroke Central School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the designation, Pembroke CSD answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music programs, Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

This award recognizes that Pembroke CSD is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music.

ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.  

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music.

After two years of music education, research found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores that their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well.

Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children that in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory.

Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound; young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, click here.

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