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July, 2014

Elementary Shuttle Bus System Information

Beginning fall 2014 the district will group students by grade level at the elementary schools as follows:

Pleasant Avenue School: Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade
Glebe Street School: Second and Third Grade
Warren Street School: Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Grade

As part of this school structure, a district shuttle has been created to transport elementary students between the Glebe, Pleasant and Warren buildings as outlined below:

  • Kindergarten students living within .5 miles of Glebe or Warren may sign-up to ride the shuttle between those schools and Pleasant. Kindergarten students who live more than .5 miles from the closest elementary building to their home are eligible to be transported from their homes via traditional busing. Shuttle Examples: A kindergarten student living less than .5 miles from Glebe may go to the shuttle stop at Glebe and board the morning shuttle for a ride to Pleasant and may also ride the afternoon shuttle from Pleasant back to Glebe, where they will meet parents, walk or be picked up. A kindergarten student living less than .5 miles from Warren may go to the shuttle stop at Warren and board the morning shuttle for a ride to Pleasant and may also ride the afternoon shuttle from Pleasant back to Warren, where they will meet parents, walk or be picked up. 
  • Students in Grades 1-6 living within 1.5 miles of any Johnstown elementary school may sign-up to ride the shuttle from that building to their grade level elementary school. At the end of the school day, the shuttle will return them to the closest elementary building to their residence, where they will meet parents, walk or be picked up. Students in grades 1-6 who live more than 1.5 miles from the closest elementary building to their home are eligible to be transported from their homes via traditional busing. Shuttle Examples (other possibilities also exist): A first grade student living less than 1.5 miles from Warren may go to the shuttle stop at Warren and board the morning shuttle for a ride to Pleasant and may also ride the afternoon shuttle from Pleasant back to Warren. A second grade student living less than 1.5 miles from Pleasant may go to the shuttle stop at Pleasant and board the morning shuttle for a ride to Glebe and may also ride the afternoon shuttle from Glebe back to Pleasant. A sixth grade student living less than 1.5 miles from Glebe may go to the shuttle stop at Glebe and board the morning shuttle for a ride to Warren and may also ride the afternoon shuttle from Warren back to Glebe. 

Students must sign up to ride the shuttle bus. The transportation office requires a 48 hour notice for transportation changes. Visit the forms page to download a shuttle registration form.

The morning shuttle will leave from the following locations at the times listed below:

  • Glebe Street School: 8:10 a.m.
  • Pleasant Avenue School: 8:15 a.m.
  • Warren Street School: 8:15 a.m.

Each school will have morning supervision for shuttled students from 8 – 8:45 a.m. and after school from 3:15 – 3:45 p.m. 

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District Exploring Capital Project Improvements

Board members and administrators met recently with representatives from the architectural and engineering firm CSArch to discuss a potential capital project in the Johnstown School District.

While the district’s buildings are structurally sound and have been well cared for, each building needs routine maintenance, similar to the maintenance that residents’ homes would regularly require. When these repairs are included as part of a capital project, they are eligible for state aid and any remaining local costs are spread over 15 to 20 years. Without a capital project, repairs may still need to be made, but would have to be funded out of the budget, with no state aid for the work.

Many of the items currently under consideration for improvement are related to health and safety, including building and classroom door security, roof replacement, electrical upgrades, bathrooms/fixtures, drop-off and pick-up configurations at buildings, HVAC and lighting. Additional areas under review include the JHS pool, JHS gymnasium, cafeteria/gym spaces, the track, and education spaces including music suites and art rooms.

Some concern has been expressed about the state of the JHS pool, where operating systems such as the air handler and pump/filter have been subjected to nearly forty years of chemical exposure. Over this extended period of time, the corrosive nature of chlorine has taken a toll on the expected life of not only the pool equipment, but also the locker room areas. An idea to repurpose the pool area as a new gymnasium has come up in discussion, but no decision has been made on how to proceed. Whether the district ultimately moves to upgrade/rehab the pool, or close it and repurpose the space, will depend in part on cost estimates.

While there is a goal for a November 2014 referendum, Johnstown’s capital project process is currently still in preliminary stages. The board and administration will be taking careful consideration of many possibilities over the next several months, and frequent updates will be provided.

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Jansen Avenue School Experiences a Renaissance and Rebirth as an Educational Facility

In the spring of 2009, faced with declining enrollment and a bleak economic outlook, the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education made the difficult decision to close its Jansen Avenue elementary building. Fast forward to 2014: Jansen Avenue School is experiencing a Renaissance…a rebirth as an educational facility that will enhance education for students, provide a hub for innovative education and provide a revenue stream that was not an option five years ago.

After closing Jansen Avenue as an elementary school, the building was listed for sale. During this time it was necessary for the district to continue maintaining and preserving the space, to prevent deterioration and a decline in value. Gas and electric expenses for the unoccupied building averaged approximately $10,000-$12,000 per year. Additionally, some manpower, albeit much reduced, was still necessary for such things as clearing snow and mowing lawns.

While providing upkeep on the still unsold building, the district decided to make use of the space for such things as PTA events, sports practices, Title IX training for GJSD custodial staff, and as an alternate testing site for AP exams and SAT tests. The building was also used as storage for the USMC Toys for Tots annual holiday toy drive and served as a site for the Johnstown Police Department to conduct canine training and emergency drills – worthwhile endeavors of benefit to the community.

In preparation for the 2013-14 school year, the Jansen library was repurposed as a home for Johnstown’s innovative new offering for high school seniors known as “The Learning Project.” These students are earning high school credits and, in some cases, physics credit from FMCC, while participating in hands-on projects that require collaborative work, research, and problem solving while incorporating multiple disciplines.

The new HFM BOCES Regional P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) program will begin at Jansen in the fall of 2014. Students in the program will earn a NYS Regents diploma as well as an associate’s degree from Fulton-Montgomery Community College, at no cost to their families. Each participating school in the P-Tech program will receive a certain number of slots for students based on a State Education Department formula; Johnstown will have a total of six slots. A co-service agreement (CoSer) with BOCES allows for State Aid to cover costs for P-Tech, with reimbursement per pupil. The district does not get a specific allotment of P-Tech money, only reimbursement for pupils who attend. However, the district will receive rent by hosting P-Tech at Jansen, which, coupled with the rent received from BOCES to use four classrooms for special education, will be approximately $100,000 per year. To learn more about P-Tech, please visit the HFM BOCES web site (external link).

While attempting to market the building for sale failed to result in a buyer, new and viable options for Jansen have been realized. The building is now generating income and supporting creative and innovative education. The community is no longer under the shadow of an empty school with a for sale sign posted on it.

The Board of Education in Johnstown has been, and continues to be, proactive regarding the potential of the district. Closing Jansen in 2009, while painful, helped the district to slow the cost of doing business. There was a reduction of singletons (single sections of an elementary grade level), resulting in a reduction of teaching positions – mainly through attrition. In a school district, the most meaningful budget reductions or savings come from people and benefits. Reducing the costs of health insurance, FICA, contributions to Employee Retirement Systems and contractual obligations helped to prevent two things: program elimination and large tax increases. Johnstown’s budget was approximately $29.1 million for the 2008-2009 school year. The proposed budget for 2014-15 is $30.3 million. Had a building not been closed and staffing reduced, it is not likely the district could have kept its budget increases to such a minimum and continued to provide quality programming for the children of our community.

Since the time the Jansen building was closed, the Greater Johnstown School District has continued to evolve and change. Johnstown began contracting with HFM BOCES Regional Transportation Service for shared transportation administration, bus drivers, bus aides, mechanics, and maintenance at a hub located in Gloversville, which has resulted in greater efficiencies. We are now in the process of determining the number of students who will want and/or need the shuttle system being planned for Grade Level Grouping and there may in fact be fewer routes because of the new configuration. Grade Level Grouping, set to begin in September 2014, changes the district’s “neighborhood” elementary schools to a model grouped by grade levels: pre-k through first grade will all attend Pleasant Avenue; students in grades two and three will all attend Glebe Street, and students in grades four through six will all attend Warren Street.

The Johnstown Board of Education is excited to support creative and innovative education that looks different than education did five, ten or thirty years ago. The rebirth of the Jansen Avenue School has afforded the students of Johnstown an opportunity to be part of that educational transformation and is a positive occurrence of which the entire Johnstown community can be proud.

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