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FOR SALE: Small former city school building, constructed circa 1890. 3 floors, zero handicap accessibility. Some minor cracks in aging foundation; generally outdated. Great residential neighborhood!

The above could be a true story for the City of Batavia School District, if the School Board goes through with a plan to consolidate its buildings and sell the district headquarters on Washington Avenue.

Board members last night took a second look at the proposed plan from Young & Wright Architects to trim down district buildings. (
See the original story from June HERE). Under each of the several versions of consolidation, district headquarters would be sold, and administrators would move into either Jackson Street School or Robert Morris Elementary.

Perhaps more earth-shaking is the fact that city elementary schools would then change from neighborhood-based to grade-by-grade. Under the preferred "Option #1," Pre-K through 1st graders would all attend Jackson School, 2nd through 4th grades would move into John Kennedy School, and 5th grade students would move up to middle school.

There are other configurations with minor changes. But all share the common thread of selling the administration building. Architectural consultant Jerry Young (inset), who prepared the plan, says that may be a difficult task.

"The likelihood of a sale here is very particular to the site," Young said after the meeting. "It could be difficult, because it's in a neighborhood, it's a tight (small) site...there could be limited people who would be interested in buying it."

And those were Young's reserved statements. At points during the meeting, he also criticized the building's three floors, lack of gymnasium or cafeteria, and severe lack of handicap accessibility as points negative to a sale.

"Some school buildings I've seen sold were old schools," he said, "and they had plenty of space and were converted into elderly housing.

"This's value goes down," he said. Young told board members that if they wanted to budget for its sale, "budget for about $10.00 a square foot. But maybe its $2.00 a square foot." The building is listed at 19,710 sq. ft. total floorspace.

Still, Superintendent Margaret Puzio pointed out that under the state's new 2-percent property tax cap, hurt-free opportunities to find savings will be dried up quickly. In the most recent district budget, 15 full-time jobs and a number of other part-times were eliminated. Puzio said that laying off another 20 personnel is not out of question to balance next year's budget.

Current estimates place the total one-time savings of building consolidation around $1-million.

At the close of Jerry Young's presentation, the board voted to continue the study. The Buildings and Grounds Committee will now return with an official reccomendation as to which consolidation option is best.

UPDATE: Latest consolidation presentation from Young & Wright Architects HERE


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