Long Range Planning Committee August Update

Long Range Planning Meeting of August 5, 2019

Attendance:

Committee Members:

Melissa Cornell, Meredith Fagan, Susanne Fitzgerald, Robert Kraemeer, Joe LoDestro, Nicole Panton, Jennifer Sponnoble, Jessica Stock, Dave Wood, and Kathy Zajicek

Consultants:

Alan Pole, Deb Ayers, and Bill Silky

Observers:

Chris Tallon, Nancy Lisicki, Deborah Ruggeri, Mike Anich, Tom Roehl, and Trish Kilburn

Notes

1. Deb Ayers started the meeting by welcoming everyone and reviewing the agenda for the evening.  She also reviewed the meeting schedule as follows. This is the final meeting of the facilities advisory committee.

Date

Topic

Location

January 14 General overview of the study process including the committee’s role; student enrollment projections JHS Library
February 25 Overview of the instructional program Pleasant Ave Library
April 8 Overview of facilities; Begin discussion of options Glebe St Library
May 13 The district’s transportation operation; discussion of options Warren St Library
June 10 Staffing patterns in the district; discussion of options Knox Jr High Library
July 8 The financial status of the district and exploration of future facility options JHS Library
August 5 Review of the draft final report JHS Library

2. Deb reminded the committee that the presentation of the report to the Johnstown Board of Education is scheduled for September 17, 2019. All committee members are encouraged to attend the presentation.

3. The committee found no issue with the July 8, 2019 meeting notes.

4. Bill Silky reviewed the 32 major findings from the report. These findings allowed the consultants to reach the following conclusions related to addressing the purpose of the study:

  • Enrollment projections-Student enrollment in Johnstown has declined and is expected to continue to decline.
  • Program-Johnstown offers a very comprehensive academic and extra-curricular program for its students.
  • Facilities-The district has recently completed a major capital project and will continue to plan for and maintain its buildings. There is an abundance of space in the current school buildings.
  • Transportation-The district employs a double trip routing system with the use of a shuttle system to get all of the children to school and back home.  Options being proposed would have little if any significant impact on transportation but it will need more study.
  • Staffing-Salaries and fringe benefits comprise the vast majority of the school budget and reducing people will be the only way to make significant reductions in costs.
  • Finance-The district has experienced significant tax increases in the past two years and will face continuing financial challenges in the near future.

5. Alan Pole then reviewed the recommendations that the consultants will be making to the board of education as follows:

  1. It is recommended that the district convene a facilities planning committee whose role it will be to develop and monitor a long term facilities plan for the district. This will include the closure of Glebe Street School, the scope of work to be performed from the 2015 and next Building Condition Survey, the long term the design of appropriate school facilities and the financing of these initiatives. This committee should be comprised of both school staff and members of the community.
  2. It is recommended that the Board of Education consider the following options as both “feasible” and “desirable” as it looks to the future.
    1. Option 1: Move the sixth grade to Knox and create a 6-8 Middle School Model and close Glebe Street Elementary School.  Pleasant Avenue would then house grades K-2 while Warren Street Elementary would educate students in grades 3-5.
    2. Option 2: Move the sixth grade to Knox and create a 6-8 Middle School Model and close Glebe Elementary School.  Pleasant Avenue would then house all PreK-1 grade students while Warren Street Elementary
  3. It is recommended that the district use the attrition method, if possible, for reducing staff should any staff reductions be realized from this initiative.
  4. It is recommended that the Board of Education conduct at least one public hearing/comment period on these options for the general public to express opinions.
  5. It is recommended that the district implement these options in the 2020-21 school year.  This will allow for adequate time to conduct one or more hearings to permit the public to make concerns and comments known about each of the options under consideration and for sufficient planning time to finalize implementation details so that the transition is as smooth as possible.
  6. Should either of our recommended options be endorsed by the Board of Education, we also recommend the district should first consider attempting to either secure a buyer for the Glebe Street building OR a lessee to ensure the school is put to productive use.  After a reasonable period of time if the school is not closed or rented the district should consider moving the District Offices and the currently-rented Maintenance Facility to the vacant school.

6. The members of the advisory committee and the other attendees were then provided the opportunity to make comments and ask questions about the report. Based on the feedback received, the draft report will now be finalized and prepared for presentation to the Johnstown Board of Education on September 17.

7. Bill Silky thanked everyone for attending the meeting with special gratitude for the members of the advisory committee who gave so much of their time for this service to the schools and the community.

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