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Johnstown reviews grade grouping

December 21, 2012
MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - If the Greater Johnstown School District decides to go through with elementary grade-level grouping, the district already knows which of its grade levels will be grouped into which schools.

The Board of Education took a "straw poll" at the conclusion of a public forum Thursday night - the second of two forums it conducted on grade-level grouping. The board decided if it moves head with grade-level grouping, it would look this way: Pleasant Avenue Elementary School would host prekindergarten through first grade, Glebe Street Elementary School would host grades two and three, and Warren Street Elementary School would have grades four through six.

"We're still putting a plan together," said board President Paul VanDenburgh.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education member Angela Clizbe reviews information at a grade-level grouping public forum Thursday night at Johnstown High School.

The district says grade-level grouping would be an efficient educational process for Johnstown elementary school students.

VanDenburgh said the next step is to have the administration, led by Superintendent Robert DeLilli, develop more definitive information for grade-level grouping.

"The administration is going to present it to the board for a formal implementation plan," he said.

After the board gets the plan, he said the board will decide whether to approve it, gather more public opinion, and eventually decide whether to fully implement grade-level grouping for a particular school year.

District resident Barbara Skoda cautioned the board about moving too quickly.

"We want to do it right and not in a hurry," she said.

The board voted unanimously Nov. 29 to begin developing a plan to determine the feasibility of grade-level grouping for the district's three elementary schools. The decision doesn't commit the district to switching to grade-level grouping. It also doesn't commit the district to a certain school year to begin the initiative.

VanDenburgh said the board had to decide on the grade setup to "steer our administration in a certain way" to continue planning for the option of grade-level grouping.

In the first public forum Dec. 13, the board discussed the grade format chosen Thursday night. At Thursday night's forum, those in attendance broke into groups to discuss "strategies" and "challenges" in major areas if the scenario involving having students in grades five and six were to go to Glebe. But that scenario didn't fit into the board's thinking.

For example, those in attendance thought Warren Street School makes more sense than Glebe Street School for older students because of building modifications that might have to be made and traffic patterns at Glebe.

"Most of the people were in agreement that Glebe seems to have a real issue, not only as far as traffic flow, but as far as parking," said board member Kathryn Zajicek.

Brenda McGuire, an educational consultant for the district, led district officials, teachers and parents through the process Thursday night to narrow down the schools.

Groups met informally during Thursday night's forum to go over issues as they relate to six key areas: parental involvement, special areas, transportation, communications, logistics and staff support.

Parents listened and provided input into what is an evolving issue.

"I'm very unfamiliar with the whole strategy," said Christina Laird, parent of a kindergartner at Pleasant Avenue School.

Among the issues talked about Thursday were "centralized" bus stops; combined activities such as art, music and gym; starting times; building retrofitting; and whether a new gym is needed at Glebe Street School.

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



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