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The Batavia City School District Administration, together with the Board of Education, has launched a preliminary look into a large-scale restructuring and consolidation of its school buildings.

The study was announced to the public last Tuesday evening, when consultant Jerry Young of Buffalo architectural firm Young & Wright presented his findings, following the public hearing on the second proposed school budget.

Young’s company put together a list of 5 possible building consolidations (see bottom). Each of the models proposed shuttering and selling the current district offices on Washington Street. According to Young, the building is over 120 years old, and it has some structural and practicality issues because of its age. It is also not ADA-approved, with no ramps or elevators available. The building received only a “satisfactory” rating on Young & Wright’s analysis.

As such, if the Washington Street building was closed, the administration would move into another existing district building, which would likely cause upheaval within the current school system. Three of Young’s 5 proposals involve shifting elementary-level students from the current neighborhood-style school system into a learning-by-committee style; that is, all kindergarteners would be in the same building, all first graders would be in the same building, and so on. (See the detailed report from Young & Wright HERE)

District Business Manager Scott Rozanski told the Board that a building consolidation, including closure and sale of the current district offices, could save the district $1-million in the long run. But Superintendent Margaret Puzio said today at her office that the real question after seeing the presentation is: can Batavia City Schools continue a quality education with just two elementary school campuses?

“If you took grades 3 through 5: right now we have eight sections of 3rd grade, nine sections of 4th grade, and eight sections of 5th grade,” Puzio explained. “So is there a building that would house all of those students, and another building that might house kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade?” Puzio left that question unanswered, as the study is still in its preliminary stages. But she did emphasize that there are educational goals that ought to be met, even with a consolidation.

“One of the things we would be reluctant to do is to increase our class size substantially,” she said. “If we had all the 2nd graders, for example, on the same campus…instead of nine sections, we may be able to have eight sections.”

Puzio does concede that the district could not maintain the neighborhood school system that it has now, should one of the first three consolidation plans occur. Currently, students on the south side mostly attend Jackson School, students on the northeast side mostly attend John Kennedy School, and students on the west side mostly attend Robert Morris. “A parent might have a student at Jackson Elementary School, and one at J-K, or any combination thereof,” she said.

With that change would come transportation costs and concerns. Puzio says, however, that whatever cost the increased transportation would accrue would not offset the savings of a building consolidation. “Those costs are 90-percent aid-able,” Puzio said.

The move to study consolidation is part of an effort to find as many efficiencies as possible, in what’s almost certainly a difficult future to come, says Puzio. It’s even more difficult for Batavia, which draws on a less-wealthy pool of taxpayers than many suburban districts of comparable size.

“The sacred trust that quality public education will always be there…is beginning to be eroded,” she says. “It’s really a big picture thing that parents need to understand: if we’re hoping to keep students in the Genesee Valley competitive, then we need to be serious about making sure that the funds are there to do it.” Which may mean significant further cuts to non-mandated programs.

Otherwise: “There is no promise that this school district will be able to provide an education equal to the opportunities available in wealthier districts,” Puzio said.


OPTIONS FOR MOVING DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION

Option 1                      Jackson Street School
Administrators would move into the northeast corner of Jackson Street School (gold area). All Pre-K classes would relocate there as well (off-white).
Robert Morris would house grades K-2. John Kennedy would house grades 3-5.
Middle and high school would see no changes.






Option 2                          Robert Morris School




Administrators would move into the southeast corner of Robert Morris School (gold area).
Pre-K thru grade 1 would be relocated to Jackson Street School.
John Kennedy would house grades 2-4.
Batavia Middle School would house grades 5-8.
The high school would see no change.









Option 2a                     Jackson Street School                              
Administrators would move into the northeast corner of Jackson Street School (gold area). Some Pre-K classes would relocate there as well (off-white). John Kennedy would house remaining Pre-K though grade 2. Robert Morris would house grades 3-5.
Middle and high school would see no changes.






Option 3
                          Batavia High School






Administrators would move into the west wing of the high school (purple area).
No other schools would see any changes.










Option 4                         Batavia Middle School
                       





Administrators would move into the northeast and southwest portions of the middle school (gold areas).
No other schools would see any changes.









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