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Johnstown school board facing cuts as they meet on budget

Johnstown school board facing cuts as they meet on budget

Board likely to propose exceeding tax cap
Johnstown school board facing cuts as they meet on budget
Photographer: Shutterstock

JOHNSTOWN -- The Greater Johnstown School District board of education will meet at 5 p.m. on Thursday to consider wide-ranging budget cuts.

Reductions in athletic offerings and staff positions are on the table, as are a possible end to transportation for pre-kindergarten students and prohibiting field trips unless funds are raised to pay for them, according to minutes from the March 22 school board meeting.

District officials did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon, but the minutes provided a picture of where the budget discussions stood as of late last month – before the district received its final state aid numbers.

District officials also recommended a 30 percent across-the-board cut to supply purchases, eliminating all but “essential” equipment purchases, according to the meeting minutes. There was also talk about eliminating unfilled positions and not replacing retirees, limiting athletic trainer visits and merging athletic teams with other districts to share the cost of coaches and transportation.

The district will also likely ask voters to approve a tax levy increase higher than the district's state-mandated tax cap, a move that would require 60 percent approval at the May 15 budget vote. The district's tax cap for the coming year is a negative number, partly driven by fluctuations in debt costs, so any tax levy increase would require a supermajority approval.

The district’s business official, Ruthie Cook, said during the March 22 board meeting that increasing the tax levy 3.5 percent would help in the current budget but would still not put the district on a sustainable path for coming years, according to the minutes. The district increased the levy 3.5 percent last year. The board considered a range of tax levy increases, according to the meeting minutes, including nearly 5 percent annually over multiple years.

The school board is scheduled to meet in Johnstown High School.

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