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Johnstown eyes reorganizing schools

Grade-level grouping on table again

September 14, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education decided Thursday to start scheduling meetings of its Restructuring Committee to study potential elementary grade-level grouping - also known as the Princeton plan - for the 2013-14 school year.

The Princeton plan would call for reassigning students to put grade groups together in the same buildings - such as kindergarten through second grade, third through fourth grades, and fifth through sixth grades. Presently, elementary students attend schools close to their homes.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli said he and other district officials need to meet with the board's Restructuring Committee and look at grade-level grouping.

Before the district closed Jansen Avenue Elementary School in 2009, which left the district with three elementary schools, officials noted the district had many single-class grades in the elementary schools. The situation was especially common at Warren Street Elementary School.

Even after the four grade schools were consolidated into three, the superintendent says, the student population is still small enough to result in several single-class grades.

"We have singletons sprinkled throughout," DeLilli said.

Board member Ronald Beck noted the district has studied this issue now for the last several years, and the district has a "jump on this."

DeLilli agreed, saying the district has gathered a lot of data about grade-level grouping.

"It's just a matter of reorganizing the committee to move forward," he said.

Members of the committee are Beck, Douglas Dougherty and Kathy Zajicek, all retired teachers.

DeLilli led an informational session for the public in February, presenting the pros and cons of such a plan. During that presentation, DeLilli said the Princeton plan targets resources at certain grade levels, provides more efficient use of shared staff and reduces duplication of services.

Concerns with grade-level grouping, he said, include having students from the same family attend different elementary schools and the "loss of tradition" of neighborhood schools.

DeLilli said Thursday the public may be closer to embracing grade-level grouping based on comments received during the last school year. He said the comments were "more positive than ever."

"It would behoove us to look at that very seriously and make that commitment," the superintendent said.

Grade-level grouping, he said, will probably not be a "financial windfall" for the district. But he said it may provide a more effective education model for the district.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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