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Job-cut plan undeterred by state aid

Despite getting an additional half-million dollars in the state's new budget, the Batavia School District will probably stick with its plan to cut 21 positions.

The positions to be cut range from a principal and school nurse to a head custodian and special-education teachers.

The $40 million spending plan also would close Robert Morris, one of the district's three elementary schools. That closing -- affecting 380 students -- would require the purchase of nine more buses at a cost of nearly $400,000. However, 90 percent of that expense is reimbursable.

Also undecided is the fate of a playground at Robert Morris that was updated last year with a $50,000 Pepsi grant following an extensive campaign by school officials, students and parents. The building will be for sale or lease, as is the district's longtime headquarters near downtown.

More busing will be required because the surviving elementary schools are more than a mile from the Robert Morris site, and district policy requires transportation for students living a mile or more away from school. The junior high -- the oldest of the district's buildings -- is in the eastern part of the city and will add fifth grade to its classes.

The student transfers also involve moving prekindergarten and first-grade students to Jackson and grades 2, 3 and 4 to John Kennedy Elementary. Both are across town from Robert Morris, which is near the city's western border.

Although the closing was announced nearly a month ago, there has been no public outcry or demands that the decision be revisited. Nearly 400 families are affected in the only school in the western section of the city. It was built 80 years ago and had a large addition several years ago.

The remaining elementary schools will probably be renamed. Robert Morris and Jackson honor famous Americans, while John Kennedy is named for an innovative superintendent who headed the district in the early 20th century.

The Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. next Monday and decide how the 2.4 percent increase in state aid will be used. Reducing the property tax rate and adding to the reserve fund are two options.