Annual budget vote set for May 21

On Tuesday, May 21, residents of the Greater Johnstown School District will vote on a proposed $43,488,975 spending plan for the 2024-25 school year. Polls will be open from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on May 21 in the auditorium lobby (JPAC) at Johnstown High School.

The plan represents a spending increase of 3.00% ($1,266,669) and calls for a 4.26% tax levy increase ($500,818), which is at the District’s maximum allowable levy under state law. This marks the fourth straight year that the tax levy increase will be within the cap, requiring a simple majority (more than 50%) to pass.

“Over the past year, we have fine-tuned the budget in order to present a spending plan that continues to provide financial consistency for our community members, while also prioritizing the District’s dedication to its mission and responsibilities,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Crankshaw said. “We are steadfast to our goal of continuous improvement, and to provide our students with the programming and resources necessary to receive a top-level education, all of which is reflected in this proposal.”

Nearly 60% of Johnstown’s revenue is from state aid. School districts typically see an annual increase in state foundation aid to help navigate rising costs and inflation, but as has been widely reported, foundation aid will remain flat for the 2024-25 school year. “Because there will be no increase in foundation aid, the District allocated more from its fund balance to help balance the proposed budget, rather than pass that responsibility to our local taxpaying citizens,” Dr. Crankshaw said.

“We expected a change in foundation aid for this year and planned accordingly,” Assistant Superintendent Alicia D. Koster said. “Fortunately, our long-range strategic financial plan to utilize fund balance, maintain healthy reserves, and time important capital projects has positioned us well for minimizing reliance on foundation aid increases,” she added. 

Crankshaw noted that there are no staffing increases or large purchases included in the spending plan, and that budget lines showing increased spending from last year are mostly due to non-discretionary expenses including contractual obligations for salaries, health insurance and retirement.

“As they do every year, our administrative team took a collaborative deep dive into each school building to assess staff and student needs,” Crankshaw said. “As a team, we incorporated specific cost-saving efficiencies and strategies to streamline District resources without sacrificing programs and emerging needs of our students, which was an important step to arriving at a balanced budget for next year,” he added.

What else is on the ballot?

Voters will also be asked to approve establishing a Capital Reserve Fund, as a way to help save for future capital projects. The fund will be contributed to annually, up to $10 million over the next 10 years. 

Also on the ballot, voters will see a proposition for a small capital project, spending no more than $5 million from the District’s already established Construction Capital Reserve (2023). The funds already exist, but voter approval is required to expend the funds. Costs for the project are not included in the 2024-25 budget and do not affect the District’s 2024-25 tax levy.

Voters will elect three members to the Board of Education for three-year terms to begin on July 1, 2024. Information about the candidates running for the Board of Education will be posted to the website in the coming days.

Absentee Ballots & Early Mail Voting

Voters registered as permanently disabled with the county board of elections will automatically receive an absentee ballot. Qualified voters may vote by absentee ballot or participate in early mail voting if they are unable to vote in person on May 21. Voters must first fill out an application with the district clerk. There are separate applications for early mail voting or absentee ballot, but the application process and deadlines are the same for both. Applications are available on the “Forms” page of the District website or by contacting the district clerk, Larraina Carpenter, at (518) 762-4611, ext. 3119. Completed ballots must be received by the District by mail or drop-off no later than 5 p.m. on May 21. More information and specific deadlines can be found on the ”Budget & School Taxes” page of the GJSD website.

The District’s annual “Budget Book” is available online on the Budget & School Taxes” page of the website. Community members may also pick up a printed copy of the Budget Book in the District Office if they would rather view it that way.

Tags: , , , ,