Batavia Public School District 101 staff presented more details on the replacement of the district’s four oldest elementary schools, during the third of four community engagement sessions at Batavia High School Thursday night.
“One of the questions that keeps coming up as we walk around, and that people expect us to answer, is ‘what happens to my students during construction?’ said Superintendent Lisa Hichens.
Hichens said that while there isn’t a definitive plan yet, the district expects guidance during the construction period could take two different forms.
“When we have a new school being built, our goal would be to build that school adjacent to the existing school so students can attend their old school while they build the new school. And then when that school is on break, students just walk across campus to their new school,” Hichens said. “Anything that happens in middle school or high school will always be the first storyline, because there’s nowhere to put them.”
Hichens said not every elementary school could have a new campus built near them.
“The second scenario would be if we were to move primary school students. At worst, if we weren’t able to complete the projects over the summer or confine them to part of the school,” she said. “Sometimes when we’re doing all the projects at once, there’s a large-scale efficiency. We have many factors to consider. I can assure you that our aim is also to minimize disruption to students.
Chief Financial Officer Anton Inglese reintroduced the three financing options for the facilities plan, which were originally presented during the February 24 session.
“They all take place over five years, and they all basically start in the year 2025. The reason for that is when the school district’s debt expires,” he said.
Inglese said the three funding options would determine how the work could be done in schools.
“Option A” would cost the district $40 million and save Batavia taxpayers $750 on average in 2026, according to meeting documents.
“It wouldn’t go very far and could only help us take care of basic maintenance, safety and security projects,” Inglese said.
“Option C” would cost the district $250 million with an estimated average tax increase of $375, which would allow greater project freedom, including the complete replacement of buildings at Alice Gustafson Elementary School and JB Nelson Elementary School, according to meeting documents.
Inglese said “Option B” would fall in the middle, costing the district $180 million without any increases, decreases or taxes.
HC Storm and Louise White Elementary would still be fully replaced under Option B, according to meeting documents.
“[Option B] would be handled in two phases,” Inglese said. “We would defer work on Alice Gustafson and JB Nelson until 2035.”
The architectural firm DLR Group has been involved in the development of the facilities plan since 2018.
“Ultimately what the core team realized was that the cost of rebuilding versus refurbishing was more cost-effective for the district,” said DLR Group project manager Keri VanSant. “[It would take] less time to implement the work and less disruptive to students. »
VanSant said the district’s facilities should reflect changing education methods.
“Let’s think back to when these buildings were built, the 50s, 60s and 70s.” says VanSant. “Education was very different then than it is now.”
“Classes are no longer just the wise teacher on stage and delivering information in lecture form,” VanSant said. “There are several different learning modalities.”
Later in the meeting, parents and community members discussed funding options in small groups.
“I really appreciate the presentations because you can tell they’ve really looked at all the possibilities over the last two years, and they’ve got the best of the best working on that.” said JB Nelson Elementary School mother Stina Castellani. “I wish it reached more people too.”
Castellani, who has attended all three engagement sessions so far, said the district should prioritize providing information to residents who weren’t in attendance or don’t have students. in the district.
“All the schools we have, there are eight schools, and two of them won’t influence this vote,” Castellani said. “The rest of the population will say ‘we can put in place [with] JB Nelson and Alice Gustafson. Our children don’t even go there. It’s not a big concern for us.
The community engagement chairs will present their findings from the four sessions and come up with a full facilities plan later in the spring, according to the district’s website.
The fourth and final community engagement session is scheduled for March 24.