GJSD Board of Education approves plan to reopen Knox Building for grades 5-7 for 2023-2024 school year

a brick school buildingAt last night’s regularly scheduled monthly business meeting, the Board of Education for the Greater Johnstown School District unanimously approved a resolution by recommendation of the Superintendent, Dr. William Crankshaw, to reopen the Knox Building for multiple grade levels for the 2023-2024 school year. Starting next school year, Knox will house students in grades 5-7 and officially be renamed Knox Middle School. Other grade alignment shifts will include prekindergarten, kindergarten and 1st grade students at the Pleasant Avenue Primary Elementary School; 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students at the Warren Street Intermediate Elementary School; and students in grades 8-12 at Johnstown High School.

The grade realignment proposal was made with consideration to findings by the District’s Shared Decision Making (SDM) Ad Hoc Committee and GJSD Leadership Team. Passage of the resolution effectively reverses a decision that was made by the District in April, 2020 to close Knox for student instruction, other than pre-K.

“The current configuration of our grade levels is not sustainable, nor is it congruent with the District’s vision to promote itself as the natural regional choice for families to enroll their children for a first class education,” Crankshaw said. 

“The District has not seen the financial benefits that seemed to be the backbone of the 2020 decision to close Knox,” he added. “We are literally bursting at the seams in each of our buildings, and have had to be creative to find adequate space for instruction. At Warren Street, we’ve had to convert a locker room into a classroom and currently hold band practice in the cafeteria. Our staff and students deserve a space that prioritizes education and reopening Knox for grades 5-7 helps us achieve that goal.”

The topic of reopening the Knox Building has been on the table for more than a year. In December, 2022, the District’s Shared Decision Making Committee created an Ad Hoc Committee to discuss the topic and come up with a plan to present to the Board. The Ad Hoc Committee is made up of various stakeholders, including administration, facilities, JTA representatives from various grade groupings, CSEA and PTA representatives, community members, the JPD Chief of Police, and students.

“The Shared Decision Making Committee worked exactly like it should,” Crankshaw said. “We had facilitated discussions and participated in brainstorming sessions where everyone had the opportunity for input. We could not – and should not – make this kind of decision alone. It required analyzing the plan from every angle and understanding how it would affect things like transportation, traffic flow, food service, teacher certifications, age-appropriate socialization, extracurricular participation and special education needs for our students. I’m confident that we have come up with a plan that addresses those concerns and ensures that our District continues on a path towards continuous improvement and its vision of excellence.”

Next steps for the District to take include submitting applications to the New York State Education Department for approvals.

The District’s realignment plan will be implemented in phases. The first phase will start this month and see the District’s administrative, business and human resource offices move from the Knox Building back to the Johnstown High School. The informational technology department will move from Knox to Warren Street. Facilities will continue to be headquartered at Knox. Grade levels will wait until the end of this current school year to move, with a bulk of the work being done over the summer, in anticipation of the first day of school in September, 2023.

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