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Johnstown School District presents revised budget plan

June 11, 2019 11:09 PM

JOHNSTOWN – The future of the Greater Johnstown School District remains uncertain. The superintendent presented a revised budget plan to residents Tuesday night.

The original spending plan and its 35 percent tax hike was rejected by voters last month. This revised 2019-2020 school budget is for $37.8 million and calls for a 14.6 percent tax levy increase.

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This new plan would eliminate 19 staff positions, including 13 teachers and limit electives students can choose from. It would preserve $200,000 for athletics, but the community will still need to raise more than $300,000 for the athletic programs. The revised budget would keep Advanced Placement courses, and full day kindergarten.

High school junior Jacob Frenyea said keeping extracurricular activities for students is crucial.

“There are these programs that kids rely on every day,” said Frenyea. “Whether it be the choir or football after school or the drama club or international club this stuff keeps them out of trouble and keeps them grounded.”

Many people Tuesday night were focused on how the school got to this point. Superintendent Trish Kilburn said it’s because of the low tax increase the district has seen year after year. She said she can’t explain the reasoning behind that because she wasn’t with the district then, but she said it’s time to look toward the future.

“It really is a revenue problem,” said Kilburn. “This district does not have enough tax revenue to support its circumstances and its needs and that has to be the ultimate solution.”

If the budget does not pass on June 18, then there will be a contingency budget. That means there will be no tax levy increase. The district would have to go to half-day kindergarten, eliminate band, choir and art programs for elementary school students and the community would have to raise $500,000 for athletics.

“The contingency plan is very damaging, because what it does is keeps our gap pretty extreme,” explained Kilburn. “It's between four and five million dollars if we can't raise any tax levy. It runs down that fund balance clock.”

Frenyea said he hopes people take students, not just an increase in taxes, into account when voting.

“I would ask Johnstown residents to think back to when they went to high school here and all the opportunities they had,” said Frenyea. “Think about what it would've been like if they didn't have them and then take a step in our shoes.”

To learn more about the revised budget, click here.

A fundraiser will be held on Wednesday, June 19 to help raise money for the athletic programs. It will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Johnstown High School auditorium.

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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