Johnstown community to vote on proposed school budget Tuesday, May 16
Community budget hearing set for Tuesday, May 2
On Tuesday, May 16, residents of the Greater Johnstown School District will vote on a proposed $42,222,306 budget for the 2023-24 school year that maintains healthy academic programming, extracurriculars and athletics, fulfills the District’s goal of providing robust opportunities for students and staff, and accommodates for the District’s mission of continuous improvement. Voting will take place in the Junior-Senior High School Auditorium Lobby on May 16, and polls will be open from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
The community is invited to a presentation about the budget at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2 in the auditorium at The Knox Building. A livestream of the public budget hearing may also be viewed on the District’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxHNdSrBUjpzHtGXAxA2DYA
The plan represents a spending increase of 2.93% ($1,201,235) and incorporates a 4.47% tax levy increase ($503,551), which is at the district’s allowable limit under the state’s “tax cap” formula. This marks the third straight year that the tax levy increase will be within the cap, requiring a simple majority (more than 50%) to pass.
“Record high inflation is causing challenging times for schools, just as it is for our families,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Crankshaw said. “The benefits of long-term financial planning are coming into play this year, as we are once again able to stay within the tax levy limit, despite rising costs all around us. Our financial strategies have allowed us to present a budget that is sensitive to the hardships that our community is facing.”
The District expects to receive a 3% increase in state Foundation Aid for 2023-24. It is widely anticipated, however, that schools will see smaller increases – or perhaps no increase at all – beginning in 2024-25.
“State aid is the District’s largest source of revenue, but it is not necessarily keeping pace with the growing needs of our students and the increased expenses that come as a result,” Crankshaw said. “We are planning now, for the inevitability of lower aid next year, in an effort to provide financial consistency for our community and do what we can to avoid sharp fluctuations in the future.”
Budget components that show increased spending from last year are mostly due to non discretionary expenses including contractual obligations for salaries, health insurance and retirement, along with utilities like electricity and transportation fuel.
The spending plan includes the addition of a transportation director and one administrative assistant to be shared between the transportation and facilities departments.
“With consideration of the recommendation by the District’s Shared Decision Making ad hoc committee on transportation, the District will begin to assume greater control in the management of student transportation. For the near future, the District will continue its partnership with HFM BOCES which provides bus drivers, monitors, maintenance personnel, and storage of the District’s fleet,” Crankshaw said. “Adding a transportation director who has the expertise to coordinate routing logistics, and improve arrival and dismissal safety procedures, will ensure a high level of customer service and direct communication with our families.”
What else is on the ballot?
Bus Purchases: Vote on purchasing two 66-passenger buses at a cost not to exceed $320,000, of which $129,148 will be paid for using the District’s Capital Bus Purchase Reserve Fund (savings). “The District’s ongoing and conscientious reserve planning has ensured that those funds are there, but voters still need to approve the District spending it,” Dr. Crankshaw explained. The balance of the purchase is included in the 2023-24 budget — the cost of which is offset by transportation aid. “Purchases are done in cycles, according to when aging vehicles become costly to repair — a fiscally responsible move that also accounts for changes that may occur to our service in 2024-25,” Assistant Superintendent Alicia D. Koster said.
Board of Education Election: Community members will also vote for candidates to fill two open positions on the Board of Education. Each three-year term begins on July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2026. This is the final year of implementing the voter-approved plan to reduce the Board of Education from nine seats, down to seven. Read more about the candidates running for the Board of Education here.
Establish Capital Reserve Fund: Voters will decide if the District should establish a Capital Reserve Fund (savings) not to exceed $5,000,000, for financing future acquisitions or necessary general improvements to the District’s facilities, and transfer the remaining balance of the Bus Purchase Reserve Fund ($1,145,413) to the new Capital Reserve Fund. Future expenditures from the newly established fund would first need to be approved by voters. “Creation of this reserve is a critical component to our long-range financial plan for the next five-10 years, with the goal of reducing financial impact on the community for capital improvements,” Crankshaw said.
2023-2024 Budget Book
A PDF copy of the proposed 2023-2024 Budget Document, with required attachments, is available to view or print.