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Batavia school board candidates quizzed on athletic field plan at forum

BATAVIA – Whether Batavia School District 101 has too many administrators and whether the district should proceed with an estimated $13.4 million in improvements to Batavia High School’s athletic fields were some of the questions posed to school board candidates at a forum Tuesday sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County.

Five of the seven candidates running for four seats on the board were at the forum. Tina Bleakley, who was appointed in July to fill a vacancy on the board, is the only incumbent running. Board President Ron Link, Vice President Jack Hinterlong and board member Joseph Purpura are not running again.

The other candidates in the race are Jonathan Gaspar, Garrick Grizaffi, Jim Karner, Susan Locke, Michael Papka and Jason Stoops. Grizaffi and Papka were not at the forum because of prior work commitments.

Bleakley said she thought the district had the right number of administrators per student.

“I don’t think that we have too many administrators per student,” she said. “Our district is continuing to perform at a great level.”

Karner said he didn’t know the exact ratio of administrators to students in the district.

“I think this is something we have to examine,” he said. “We only have so much money to spend on our kids.”

Candidates were also asked if they would support an estimated $13.4 million in improvements to Batavia High School’s athletic fields as part of a master plan. The plan was recently unveiled to the school board.

Gasper said he couldn’t support the plan at this time.

“This is a long-term goal or project,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with coming up with the idea.”

Stoops agreed.

“We need to maintain our fiscal responsibility and duty to the taxpayers,” he said.

Candidates were also asked about class sizes. “Classroom size is a major issue,” Locke said. “Having 29 students in a classroom is not unusual, even at the elementary level. I would like to see smaller class sizes. There are ways it can be done without raising taxes.”

They were also asked about possible changes in the pension system that would shift the burden from the state to local school districts. Stoops and the other candidates said that is something local school districts will have to closely watch.

“I don’t want to have Springfield’s problems coming into our backyard,” he said.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that doesn’t support or oppose candidates, but works to influence public policy through citizen education and advocacy, according to its mission statement.

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