Johnstown Independent

Start date: Aug. 19

Johnstown's students will see many new faces


New Johnstown High School principal Michael Heath and about a dozen new teachers will welcome approximately 1,600 students back to class within the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District on Monday, Aug. 19.

"We have a lot of staff changes," said Thomas Slater, interim superintendent. "I feel very good about the new staff. I'm very pleased with the staff we were able to attract at all levels. We've been able to employ quality people with great backgrounds and good experience. All of them are strong candidates."

Students also will find some shifts from last year's staff.

Former longtime high school music director Jeff Rings is the new dean of students.

"I think most people are worried about the music program since Mr. Rings was the driving force," Slater said. "It's established well enough that it will carry on."

Other changes of former staff include the employment of Michael Carter as part-time dean of athletics and Kris Almendinger as director of student services.

Maintenance supervisor Scott Boltres also joined the district in June.

"We've had significant improvements in items that needed addressed," Slater said. "Most apparent is the revamping of the parking lots."

He said the high school lot was a mess, so entire sections were repaired and the lot was resealed.

"We did that at a reasonable cost," Slater said. "It should get five or six years usage."

In addition to the administrative changes, new staff members are James Cornett, middle school industrial tech; Kendra Repogle, elementary intervention specialist; Amber Wood, sixth-grade social studies; John Peters, high school intervention specialist; Alyssa Garrity, third grade; Mallory Mellott, second grade; Katherine White, ninth-grade science; Nichole Reece, third grade; Amanda Kawalek, high school English; Julie Meelko, fourth grade; Melody Rings, music; and Robert Fresch, physical education.

With an equal number of school board candidates per available board seats in November's election, Slater said, he expects consistent planning for district facilities.

"We'll start at zero and re-assess what's the best direction for facilities," he said. "If it moves as we hope, there will be something on the ballot in the spring for facilities."

He said the district would seek a lot of community input as facilities needs are determined.

Slater said 75 new students had enrolled in the district as of Aug. 15, but it was unclear how many students wouldn't return.

"The ninth grade is larger than what we had before," he said. "There are a lot of new kids enrolled. The classes are crowded to start with. With more students, it's tough to have flexibility in the buildings."

Slater, who joined the district March 1, has a contract through August 2014.

"I will give my support and offer what I can to get the right person in this role," he said.