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Greater Johnstown School District awaits ESSA designation

Greater Johnstown School District Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan gives a report at a recent Board of Education meeting at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District’s ESSA committee is addressing the district’s “targeted school” designation, Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan recently reported to the Board of Education.

The district was awaiting designation related to ESSA, which stands for Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal program measuring district achievement.

According to the state Education Department website, this federal program provides supplemental financial assistance to school districts/schools with a high percentage of children from low-income families, to provide all children a significant opportunity to “receive a fair, equitable, high-quality education and to close educational achievement gaps.”

ESSA is the federal initiative that replaced the longtime federal No Child Left Behind program. It is a law that outlines how states can use federal money to support public schools. Achievement and growth is measured by such indicators as: academic achievement, student growth, academic progress, graduation rates, English language proficiency, chronic absenteeism, and college, and career and civic readiness

Geelan said the district has a “good plan” for addressing ESSA and she thanked Nicole Panton, district director of curriculum and professional development, for her work.

According to SED, “target” districts must develop an annual District Comprehensive Improvement Plan to identify and implement initiatives to improve student learning and accountability measures for which the district has been identified. This plan will be based on a district-level needs assessment, any school-level needs assessments, and data collected and analyzed by the district.

In other reports before the board:

∫ Geelan noted the district has a work session slated for 6:30 p.m. March 19 at JHS.

She also said the district has a plan addressing coronavirus concerns.

∫ Board President Christopher Tallon reported the district recently conducted its third and final “community forum” — an outreach program at the Johnstown Area Community Center. About 30 people were in attendance, and he put total attendance for all three forums at 80. He said the district has received “very positive feedback” from the public.

∫ Johnstown Teachers Association President Nancy Lisicki’s building report started by thanking all the district representatives working on the upcoming budget and reconfiguration plan.

“We have so many common goals,” she said.

Lisicki said teachers and students were involved in “100 acts of kindness” on the 100th day of school on Feb. 26. She said they “flooded the streets” of Johnstown, involved in such activities as giving flowers, handing out candy, donating to the public library, and giving a gift to a newspaper carrier

“We truly value our community partners,” she said.

∫ The student liaison report included Glebe Street Elementary School students learning about mammals, and Knox Junior High School students collecting for the humane society.

∫ Colin Cotter and Robin Kruggel were honored for alpine skiing achievements, and Eagle Scout Malachai Matthews was also recognized.

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

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