Teachers unhappy with new school policy

By Maddie Durso and Maty Baines

A total of $155,146.23 was taken from the various number of clubs and of activities that the Batavia School District offers.

This past year, leftover money in the Student Activity Account, raised by students participating in clubs and athletics, was conjoined with the District Account.

The money in the Student Activity Account belongs to the students because they obtained it themselves through fundraising or other means. Every event that BHS collects money from clubs, activities, or athletics goes into the Student Activity Account and is meant as a safe place that holds these funds.

The mix of the two accounts led to student-acquired money being used for materials unrelated to clubs. Many areas of this problem have caused not only concern, but questions arose to where the student raised money went as well as what it’s been used for. Dozens of teachers, most of whom refused to be quoted in this article for fear of district punishment, are very displeased.

“[it is]unfortunate it happened,” said Shelby Gajos, student activity director and Batavia High School physical education teacher. Gajos gave permission to use her name in the paper.

The new turf field for Batavia was $1.3 million including the track and new track areas. Batavia boosters donated $200,000 for the turf and $300,000 more in the next five years in order to help pay the bill for the turf.  These funds were needed when 73.5 percent of voters turned down a 2015 referendum to finance the turf field. But the district decided to put the turf in anyways, reallocating existing funds in already existing district accounts. This money that the district had mostly came from the Student Activity Account.  

A chunk of the club money that was deposited into the Student Activity Account was part of the money that was taken away. $42,795.24 was taken away from more than 10 clubs districtwide, $16,000 of which came from the now defunct graphics club.

Money was not taken from football or soccer, two sports that are the primary groups benefited by the turf.

“I met with each coach individually if they had a surplus in funds,” Andrews said. “If they had a plan or a long-term vision to spend that money then that money remained in their account.”

Many teachers and school board members are not to happy with the situation. The Batavia Spectator ran an anonymous poll asking how the club sponsors felt about what occurred. Of the teachers willing to respond, all 14 responded by calling the developments and new policies “unfortunate.”

Besides changes in policies, the negative feedback also sparked a change in a school district staff position. Social studies teacher Megan Karim, who used to hold the position of the Activity Director, stepped down this year over concerns with the new policies.

There are many new policies that are coming out that will control the way official clubs are formed as well as how they raise money. These new changes are also supposed to control the way activities and clubs spend their money.  Teachers feel that new rules are necessary for this issue to not recur.

“New guidelines should eliminate that from happening again,” Gajos said.

While teachers are not happy about the transfer the Batavia administration thought that is was the right idea and thought it would benefit the District.

In the end, the district used the money in a way they thought would benefit Batavia High School and the students.

“I did not hear any negatives [about this decision],” said David Andrews, Athletic Director and Assistant Principal of Batavia High School. “Every student gets to use the turf weather its for athletics or P.E. classes.

Editor’s note: The original headline for this article “Missing: Activity funds” was inaccurate. No funds are currently unaccounted for. 

Additional editor’s note: The original article inaccurately stated that the administration is charging a new club fee to replenish club accounts. The district is allowing each individual club to decide whether or not to charge a fee depending on the costs associated with being a part of that club. 

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