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Johnstown examines school plan

Residents express views on grade-level grouping

December 14, 2012
JOHN BORGOLINI , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Parents and teachers Thursday examined possible strategies and challenges for the Johnstown school district if it decides to adopt a grade-level grouping plan for the elementary schools.

The Greater Johnstown School District hosted the first of two public forums to about 50 parents and teachers on grade-level grouping. The district wants to get people's perspectives on the proposal.

Under the proposal, the district would restructure the three elementary schools, which each now offer kindergarten through sixth grade. The schools would be divided by grades. For example, Pleasant Avenue School could host prekindergarten through first grade, Glebe Street School could host grades two and three, and Warren Street School could have grades four through six.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini
Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education member Kathy Zajicek leads a discussion about the logistics of a proposed grade-level grouping plan.

On Thursday, people broke into six groups to discuss communication, logistics, parents, special area, staff support and transportation. The groups then had a general discussion to talk about their ideas together.

Bobbi Jo Haverly, treasurer of the Glebe Street Parent Teacher

Association, talked about the parental aspect of the change. She said she hasn't decided yet whether she is for or against the idea. She said she's in favor of the best education for her children.

"I'm from Johnstown. I took a bus from Pleasant Ave. to Warren Street and had a brother who went to Jansen [a now-closed elementary school], and my kids go to Glebe Street," Haverly said. "So I don't have that same neighborhood loyalty. To me, it's Johnstown, but I know some people feel very passionately about [a neighborhood school]. I think it would be a beautiful thing for kids to be together as a city."

Ronald and Mindy Drzewicki recently moved into the district from Broadalbin, and they don't believe grade-level grouping will work for Johnstown.

Ronald Drzewicki said he believes the best way for Johnstown to move forward is to keep the schools the way they are now.

"We're from Broadalbin. We've actually dealt with this issue," he said. " ... I like it, but not in this situation. You have so many different schools. In Broadalbin, there's two big, gigantic schools that they just build on more to accommodate [more students]. Here you've got five schools. You have to divide it all up.

"They keep pointing back to Broadalbin's way, but it's not Broadalbin. They're two different animals. Yes, it's putting the grades together, but it's not putting [all of the students] in one school."

The Drzewickis said students would be uncomfortable having to adapt to five different schools throughout their 14 years in the Johnstown district.

Parent Pam Metzger said grade-level grouping would provide stability.

"I think it would be beneficial all around for every student because then students like my son will not be getting pulled from this school to that school every year," Metzger said.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli said he was glad people showed up to talk about the issue.

"If there are things the board does not think of, it's wonderful to have the community's [input]," DeLilli said. "Now we're going through the process of putting them back on the wall and talking about them."

John Borgolini can be reached at



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