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Batavia Highlands residents ‘up in arms’ over school boundaries

Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 5:38 p.m. CDT

GENEVA — The parents of 16 children who live in the Batavia Highlands subdivision and attend Williamsburg Elementary School have vowed to fight a recommendation that their children be transferred to Western Avenue School.

Batavia Highlands is in the city of Batavia but within Geneva School District 304. The subdivision is bounded on the north by East Fabyan Parkway and on the west by Route 25 at the northern edge of Batavia.

“The neighbors are all up in arms about it,” said Erica Herrington, whose 8-year-old daughter is in third grade at Williamsburg. “We just can’t see what advantage it serves. Educationally and socially, it’s going to impact them.”

Angie Morrison, mother of a second-grader, also blasted the district’s boundary task force for focusing on their subdivision and excluding other neighborhoods. Morrison said the task force had, at first, focused on four neighborhoods, including Mill Creek students and an area in Geneva’s historic district, then it was down to two neighborhoods and 60 children to be moved.

“Now they’re taking everyone off the table ... the only kids they’re talking about moving are 16 kids from Batavia Highlands,” Morrison said. “You can’t tell me they’re trying to ‘balance’ attendance at schools. Sixteen kids is not balancing squat.”

Morrison said five years ago, Batavia Highlands parents successfully stopped another planned school move. But school board member Mary Stith, who served on the boundary task force, said moving the Batavia Highlands students is a recommendation the school board is expected to act on at its April 22 meeting.

“There is nothing set in stone,” Stith said.

Stith said the task force looked at balancing enrollment and efficiencies and held four forums to allow public input. Other neighborhoods were removed from consideration because moving them would not balance enrollment or add transportation efficiencies.

Moving Batavia Highlands’ 16 children, Stith said, creates efficiencies in busing costs and in having children attend schools closer to their neighborhoods. Western Avenue, she said, is closer than Williamsburg.

“They have been moved three times,” Stith said of Batavia Highlands children. “We are not targeting them. Five years ago, they fought it, and the board did not support it [the boundary change], and that is fine.”

But Stith said five years later, the board is looking at population bubbles, redefining neighborhoods and creating efficiencies in transportation.

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