Voters say ‘No’ to school budget for Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN — Voters in the Greater Johnstown School District did not approve the proposed $35.8 million 2018-19 budget. With a total of 900 voters, 461 voted in favor of the proposed budget and 439 opposed. The district needed a 60 percent super majority to pass the vote, but only had 51 percent. In order to reach the 60 percent super majority, there needed to be 540 votes in favor of the budget.

Although the proposed budget did not pass, incumbents Kathryn Zajicek, Ronald Beck and Susanne Fitzgerald were re-elected to the Board of Education.

Since the proposed budget didn’t pass, Board of Education president Kathy Dougherty said the next step will be for the board to meet Thursday during their regular business meeting to review the numbers that came out. The board will also discuss placing a revised budget proposal before voters on June 19.

“The fact that we did get 51 percent, even though we needed 60 percent, it’s encouraging that we got 51 percent positive votes,” Dougherty said. “We did an exit survey and with these we’ll hopefully have some information to share with this exit survey, on Thursday. We’ll look at that very closely and look at the things that people are looking for.”

Dougherty said there will be some tweaks made to the proposed budget. “I think that sending out the same budget with these numbers would not be fiscally responsible,” she said.

She said they hope to get a positive vote the second time.

Dougherty said the worst case scenario would be going to the contingency level. If voters were to decline the proposed budget again on June 19, the board would have to find between $500,000 to $600,000 to go to the contingency budget.

The defeated proposed budget of $35.8 million included a 5.46 percent spending increase over the 2017-18 operating budget and a 4.9 percent tax levy increase. The district would have also been facing $1 million in spending cuts. These cuts included eliminating 13 staff positions,; transportation services for pre-K; elimination of non-essential equipment purchases; and elimination of low enrollment sport programs.