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New GJSD Superintendent gets to work

Begins process of acquainting self with district

JOHNSTOWN — In her first two weeks, new Greater Johnstown School District Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan has hit the ground running.

Geelan, from Springville in Erie County, is acquainting herself with the district since taking over its administration Sept. 30, according to Board of Education President Christopher Tallon.

She replaced former Superintendent Patricia Kilburn, who left Johnstown to become the new superintendent and CEO of the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES District.

Geelan has been in education about 30 years

“She has met with every person in the administration office,” Tallon said today of Geelan.

Tallon said Geelan has also met with the staffs of each school in the district — Johnstown High School, Knox Junior High School, Pleasant Avenue Elementary School, Glebe Street Elementary School and Warren Street Elementary School.

“She’s actually gone into the classes and met with the kids to see what they’re learning,” the board president said.

Tallon said Geelan has also attended a district “purple and gold” event, and is now poised to meet more frequently with the general public and district residents.

“She’s in the process of meeting with the constituents,” he said.

Prior to Geelan being hired, Board of Education members publicly discussed possibly hiring a superintendent who could assist with the dire financial situation the school system has found itself in the last couple years.

Tallon said Geelan has already been studying important figures and getting herself up to speed to help the district improve.

“She’s continually looking at our situation,” he said.

The Johnstown school district’s ongoing fiscal difficulties the last couple years have included failed public budget votes, double-digit tax levy increases, positions cut, and a situation in which the public has to make donations to pay for athletics.

The Board of Education on Sept. 17 hired Dr. Geelan as interim superintendent. She was hired with a contract that runs through June 30, 2020. She is being paid on a $600 per day basis.

The Western New York resident obtained her doctorate from the University of Buffalo,

Geelan last served as superintendent of the Valhalla Union Free School District in Westchester County. She last worked for two districts for a total of eight years as their superintendents, including with the Allegany-Limestone Central School District. Prior to her work as a superintendent, she served as principal at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels. Her start in education began as a teacher with a concentration in mathematics in Niagara Falls.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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