Long Range Planning Committee July Update

Long Range Planning Meeting of July 8, 2019

Attendance:

Committee Members:

Melissa Cornell, Meredith Fagan, Susanne Fitzgerald, Joe LoDestro, Michael Satterlee, Jennifer Sponnoble, Jessica Stock, Dave Wood, and Kathy Zajicek

Consultants:

Alan Pole, Deb Ayers, and Bill Silky

Observers:

Chris Tallon, Ruthie Cook, Nancy Lisicki, and Trish Kilburn

Notes

1. Bill Silky started the meeting by thanking Christina Lais for conducting the tour of the high school for interested committee members.  The agenda for the meeting and meeting protocols were presented and reviewed as well. Joe LoDestro, recently elected board member, was introduced as a new committee member.

2. Following this, Bill reviewed the purpose of the study which is to answer the following question:

Are there more efficient and effective options for organizing the district’s grades and schools to ensure a quality education for students while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers?  If so, what are these options?

3. Bill reviewed the upcoming meeting schedule as follows:

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

4. The committee found no issue with the June 10, 2019 meeting notes.

5. Bill Silky provided a listing of “take-aways” from previous meetings.

6. Deb Ayers discussed financial trends and the current financial status of the school district. She noted that the Johnstown community has passed its school budgets for each of the past 10 years although 2018 and 2019 took two votes. Deb also reviewed the recent histories of the restricted fund balance, the unassigned fund balance, and the assigned fund balance. She also reviewed the past 5-year history of the full value tax rates which have decreased by 8.7%. She also reviewed the current debt schedule for capital projects and told the group that the auditor’s  report for the district was generally positive. She closed her presentation by showing the projected gap between revenues and expenditures for the period 2018 through 2023.

7. Alan Pole then led a discussion about the feasible and desirable options that remain on the table for the district. He listed the options that had been rejected as follows:

  • Option 1A:  Remain as is-PK-1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-12 and renovate current buildings.
  • Option 1B:  Remain as is-PK-1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-12, reduce the number of elementary sections by increasing class size, and renovate the current buildings.
  • Option 2A:  Move 6th grade to Knox and create a middle school model and close and elementary school (Glebe St)-would result in a K-2 primary school at Warren St and an intermediate 3-5 school at Pleasant Ave.
  • Option 2D:  Move 6th grade to Knox , close an elementary school (Glebe)-would result in a PK-2 at Pleasant Ave and a 3-5 intermediate at Warren St.
  • Close Knox and send 7th grade to Warren Street and 8th to the High School
  • Close Knox and make Glebe Street grades 2-4 with 16 classrooms, make Warren Street grades 5-7 with 16 classrooms, and make the High School 8-12 that would add 8 sections.
  • Have PK-1 at Pleasant Ave., grades 2-4 at Warren St. move grades 5 & 6 to Knox (grades 5-7), and 8th to the High School.  Relocate the District Offices and CSE to Glebe St.
  • Make Pleasant Ave. and Warren St. both K-4 schools, move grades 5 & 6 to Knox (grades 5-7), and 8th to the High School.  Relocate the District Offices and CSE to Glebe Street.

8. Alan then led the committee in further discussion about the two possible options that should be considered by the district for the future:

  • Option 2B:  Move the 6th grade to Knox and create a middle school, close an elementary (Glebe)-would result in a K-2 primary at Pleasant Ave and a 3-5 intermediate at Warren St.  Space would need to be found for PK.
  • Option 2C:  Move the 6th grade to Knox and create a middle school, close and elementary (Glebe)-would result in a PK-1 primary school at Pleasant Ave and a 2-5 intermediate at Warren St.

Should the Glebe Street Elementary School be closed, the district should attempt to use the building productively by either selling the building or leasing the building to another entity. If no other tenant can be found after a reasonable period of time, the district should consider moving the district offices and the currently rented maintenance facility into the Glebe building.

9. The entire committee then engaged in a conversation about the two remaining feasible options. Comments included:

  • making sure that classrooms are appropriately allocated for special education classes;
  • putting art and/or music on a cart are not desirable options;
  • if possible pull Pre-K back into the district-need 4 rooms for full day Pre-K;
  • Pre-K with intermediate students at Warren could have benefits (reading buddies, etc.);
  • show a chart with the cost of closing a building on it;
  • consider Pre-K -5 in Glebe/Knox combination and grades 6-9 at Pleasant/Warren

10. The next advisory committee meeting will be held on Monday, August 5 in the High School Library. There will be no tour. The meeting of the advisory committee will begin at 6:30 p.m.

This covers the essence of the discussions at the meeting on July 8. These notes will be reviewed as the first agenda item at the next meeting on August 5 at the high school.

*See a PDF Version of PowerPoint Presentation from July 8 Meeting

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