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Geelan: Communication good between district, police

Greater Johnstown School District Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan listens to a Board of Education question during her report to the board Thursday night at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — City schools don’t have a resource officer in their buildings, but communication between the schools and the police is apparently good.

“They stop by routinely,” Greater Johnstown School District Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan told the Board of Education Thursday night.

Geelan reported on communication with the Johnstown Police Department at the board’s meeting at Johnstown High School.

She said the district is not in the position to hire an outside resource officer to patrol the schools. But she said city police have had an increased presence in the schools.

Geelan said police can also have access to boxes containing building keys in case they have to enter a school in an emergency. She said the school district has definitely increased “communication and cooperation” with the Johnstown Police Department.

Elsewhere in her formal report to the board, Geelan said the district will be putting out a request for proposal for a new building condition survey, which provides a document outlining the shape of district buildings. She said the state Education Department recently changed its rules to stagger when districts had to have a building condition survey. She said districts used to uniformly have to have the surveys done every five years.

“They’re now putting us all on a schedule,” Geelan said.

She said the Johnstown district must do one this year. She said the survey will touch on the buildings’ structural needs, heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems, safety needs, and on the district’s buildings and grounds status. Some of the work may lend itself to future capital projects, she said.

Geelan reported the district used to have an indoor Community Walking Program in which the public after hours could walk the halls of schools to keep in shape. She said she will get together with district Director of Facilities David Wood to see if the program could be revived.

The district is looking at its policies and ways to improve the dissemination of them to the public and future district administrations, Geelan said. She said policies are on the district website and they will be enhanced.

Geelan noted Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently gave his “State of the State” address and discussed education funding. State aid figures aren’t available yet. She said the district is looking at its expenditures for the future, and has formed a Software Committee.

The interim superintendent said the district continues to look at its finances.

“We still have a severe budget deficit in our district,” Geelan said.

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

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