GJSD gets started early on ’21-22 budget figures

JOHNSTOWN — After two years of tough financial sledding, the Greater Johnstown School District faces another slippery situation to assemble the district’s 2021-22 budget.

But district officials told the Board of Education Thursday night that the process to craft that document is already somewhat underway, as the school system looks to get ahead early.

“By March, I do think we should have our budget built,” said Superintendent William Crankshaw.

Board member Joseph LoDestro, chairman of the board’s Audit, Budget & Finance Committee, said the process was discussed at his panel’s Nov. 17 meeting. The committee will next meet at 6 p.m. Dec. 8 in the Knox Building library.

The district is also set to conduct a budget workshop at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 15.

Johnstown school district voters this year approved a $38.9 million 2020-21 district budget — with a 5 percent tax levy increase — in a revote after it was initially rejected. The previous year, in 2019, city school voters did the same thing in a budget that shelved athletics funding and carried a 14 percent tax hike.

In his superintendent’s report, Crankshaw said the district should probably craft two budgets — one for if things look good and one for if things don’t look so good. Even though the district probably won’t be able to get out to public sites this school year because of COVID-19, he said the district still has to have “constant communication” with the public during the budget process. He said things like the state “tax cap” need to be explained in detail.

“We need to get on the same page early about this,” he said.

The superintendent already warned the board about a possible major decline in state Transportation Aid that could impact the next budget.

“Long-term planning, in general, is key,” Crankshaw told the board.

He said the state average spent per year per student is $22,000. He said the Johnstown district spends $18,000 per student.

LoDestro said that as in other years, the district has already enlisted the services of education consultant Rick Timbs. He said his committee has already conferred with Timbs about future contracts with entities such as the Wheelerville Union Free School District, the Johnstown Teachers Association and the Civil Service Employees Association.

With the budget calendar, LoDestro said board officials will break down key areas to examine such as: Administrative, capital, and programming components.

“We will be working early in the process,” LoDestro said.

He said his committee has already talked about making budget information available to the community.


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