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Johnstown school board thanks voters for support after budget revote

JOHNSTOWN — One day after Tuesday’s successful passage of the Greater Johnstown School District’s revoted $38.9 million 2020-21 district budget, the Board of Education officially accepted the results.

The board voted 7-0 Wednesday night during its virtual, special meeting to accept the final tally of 1,382 yes to 731 no, or approval by 65 percent. The district had to reach a 60 percent “supermajority” for passage of the spending plan that carries a 5 tax levy increase for the next school year. The $38,975,289 budget for the coming school year increases spending by 2.9 percent, or $1,104,812 over the current school year. The district’s first budget vote on June 9 was defeated with a margin of 57 percent — 3 percent less than the required 60 percent supermajority.

Wednesday night’s board meeting discussion began with Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan praising the decision by district voters.

“Thanks to everyone for your support of the school district and the budget vote,” Geelan said. “We had a positive vote.”

The superintendent applauded district residents’ ability to deal with the “different” 2020 COVID-19 in-person voting process Tuesday, characterized by masks and social distancing. Even though the district stood ready to provide extra masks, Geelan said everyone who voted brought a mask.

“That just shows the kind of support and care that everyone showed,” Geelan said.

In conjunction with the recently-concluded budget process, Geelan praised district Clerk Larraina Carpenter and Assistant Superintendent Ruthie Cook for their help on the budget. She said Carpenter did a good job coordinating the two elections.

“This was a very challenging time,” Geelan said.

Through the budget process — marked by several presentations — she said Cook demonstrated “integrity” and “passion” doing her job.

Board President Christopher Tallon read a brief statement thanking all those who voted in-person or by absentee for the budget.

Tallon said the Johnstown district set a “new milestone” in voter attendance for the two budget votes.

The June 9 vote totaling 2,663 votes cast was 550 more votes than Tuesday’s 2,113 total, but district officials said both elections had high totals for normal budget voter turnouts.

Tallon said the 65 percent margin of approval was an “accomplishment very few districts across the state” can achieve on budgets.

He said work on the third-year (2021-22) of the district’s planned three-year budget plan for financial stability with the Johnstown School district “begins tonight.”

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

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