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Johnstown superintendent stepping down, school board seeks options

Johnstown superintendent stepping down, school board seeks options

Kilburn set to leave beleaguered school by Sept. 29
Johnstown superintendent stepping down, school board seeks options
Greater Johnstown School District Superintendent Patricia Kilburn, left, addresses the school board on April 19, 2018.
Photographer: Peter Barber / Gazette Photographer

JOHNSTOWN -- The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education will discuss how to replace departing District Superintendent Patricia Kilburn during its meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Kilburn was appointed district superintendent at the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES on July 29.

While School Board President Chris Talon said assistant superintendent for business Ruthie Cook is the next highest ranking administrator for Johnstown, he isn't certain yet how the board will decide to proceed in replacing Kilburn.

"With her leaving in September, we're most likely looking at an interim situation, and then decisions will have to be made to go from there," Talon said.

If Johnstown ends up hiring an interim superintendent to temporarily replace Kilburn, they won't be the only school district in the Hamilton Fulton Montgomery BOCES forced to take that route because of a superintendent leaving for a better job. In March, the Greater Amsterdam School District hired retired school district administrator Raymond Colucciello to serve as interim superintendent until March 30, 2020 to fill-in for former Amsterdam superintendent Vicma “Vicky” Ramos, who left to become the superintendent for the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.

Kilburn has not returned repeated attempts to contact her by the Daily Gazette. The school district released a statement from her on its website johnstownschools.org:

"I am so proud of the people of Johnstown," Kilburn stated in the news release. "I’m probably most sad to leave behind so many great community members, students and the incredible faculty I’ve had the honor of serving. If there’s anything I can say that represents the Johnstown culture is that they’re all student-focused; they’re all professional and caring. That’s what makes it a great place to work and such a hard place to leave."

Kilburn served as Johnstown's director of curriculum from 2008 to 2017 before becoming superintendent.

"Her services will definitely be missed, but this is a step up for her, a great opportunity. She left the district in a position where we can move forward and get past those difficulties," Talon said.

Kilburn oversaw the completion of Johnstown's $39.6 million capital project. She also grappled with the district's ongoing financial crisis, which has resulted in layoffs and significant program cuts.

Johnstown has been attempting to fill a $4.3 million budget shortfall. This year, the district was able to pass a 14.6-percent tax levy increase on the second budget vote June 18 after failing to pass a 35 percent tax levy increase on May 21. The district expects to need at least two more 15 percent tax levy increases over the next two budget cycles in order to sustain its main programming, including its high school and kindergarten.

Kilburn's last salary listed on seethroughny.net was $139,000.

Talon said he isn't certain whether Johnstown's school board will want to hire a new superintendent at the same salary as Kilburn at the time of her departure or at a lower number.

"Obviously, we're looking to be as responsible as we can, financially, no matter who comes in, but ultimately we want the best candidate who we think is going to be the best fit for our district with the situations that we are currently facing," Talon said.

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