The past month brought many new challenges to all of us, including governing bodies such as our school board. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have had to find ways to continue conducting school business, without risking everyone’s health and safety. Thanks to the outstanding work of our administration and our technology department, we have been able to rise to the challenge and hold our scheduled meetings using an online virtual meeting platform.
During our virtual meetings, our board has been able to discuss items and take action to allow the school district to continue to operate. We were even able to conduct a public hearing on the district’s proposed Option V restructuring plan. While we realize that conducting our public meetings in this type of setting is not perfect, we have still been able to hear great feedback from our constituent groups. We’ve heard public comments made during our virtual meetings, we’ve received responses to surveys posted online, and we’ve received communications from the community through email and/or regular mail. The board has used all of this feedback to help with making some very critical decisions that will impact our school district going forward. Some of those items are as follows:
- On April 9, 2020 the board adopted a resolution to re-purpose Knox Junior High School. This means that beginning in September of 2020, Johnstown High School will include grades 7 & 8 in addition to grades 9-12. Sixth grade will remain at Warren Street, which will now house grades 3-6 (grade 3 being a new addition to the building). Pleasant Avenue will be the home for grades K-2, while Pre-K is slated to go to Knox.
- With the re-purposing of Knox, we will be able to put a 2020-2021 budget out to voters with a much lower tax levy increase than was anticipated. Last year it was projected we would need to increase the tax levy by 14%. With the restructuring of buildings and other efforts that took place this year, we will be able to propose a budget with a tax levy increase of 9%. This is 5% lower than what was projected. This proposed budget will include interscholastic athletics and extracurricular programs that were removed from the 2019-2020 budget.
- Notice: NYS has moved school budget votes to June, with the exact date to be determined.
- Our Audit Committee continues to work closely with the administration on the creation of the 2020-2021 budget. They also continue to look at long term projections beyond the 2020-2021 school year, and are looking for ways to generate more revenue for the district.
- We are exploring additional ways to share information pertaining to the June budget vote with all groups within our community. It was our intention to do several “in person” community presentations, but due to the current pandemic situation, that isn’t possible at this time. We hope to have a plan finalized soon so that we can begin to distribute this information.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our GJSD staff members for their efforts during the school closure, as they continue to provide education and support for our students. We would also like to thank all of the parents, who have now become “teachers” during the closure, as they continue to balance an already challenging home and work life. We know that this has not been an easy task, but please know that your efforts are appreciated and will only help your children as they grow.
We hope everyone remains healthy and that we can get back to our “normal” routine in the very near future.
GJSD BOE, President