Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe

Group: Last call to weigh in on building needs

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Johnstown-Monroe Local School District residents have one more opportunity to provide input to a community group about what they would or wouldn't support when it comes to a ballot issue for renovated or new school facilities.

The last of three community meetings will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the Johnstown Village Council chambers, 599 S. Main St.

Jay Hazelbaker, a volunteer with the facilities discussion group, said about 30 residents attended each meeting Dec. 30 and Jan. 5.

"I can't stress enough that we want people to give their input," he said. "The schools belong to the community. Residents should have a say about what goes in the community."

Thus far, Hazelbaker said, residents who have attended the meetings have been overwhelmingly positive about moving forward with at least one new facility.

"There's universal agreement we need a new elementary, a K-5 or K-6," he said. "Beyond that, there's agreement something needs to be done all the way around. Beyond K-5 or K-6, it isn't as clear about what should happen. That's why the community input is valuable."

In addition to the public meetings, a survey regarding facilities needs and financing also is available at the Mary E. Babcock Library, 320 N. Main St., and online at Facebook.com/JohnstownSchoolsFacilitiesForum.

The survey asks such questions as whether residents would support the notion of building new schools in Johnstown and how much of an increase in annual property taxes they would be willing to support for new schools.

Hazelbaker said the group's findings would be presented to the school board during a special meeting yet to be scheduled this month. He said the school facilities discussion group was formed after people expressed a desire to get together during a November board meeting.

"There was a desire to get together to try to poll people to say: 'What do you think? What are your feelings? What would you support? What wouldn't you support? What should the board explore?' "

"We were consulting with the board about how we could help," he said. "We want to help give the board some direction about what people would like to see happen."

Small-group discussions were held before the public meetings to discuss ways to gather input.

"Throughout the process, it hasn't been pushed by the board," Hazelbaker said. "It hasn't been initiated by the board. They know we're doing it, and they're fine with it. Our goal was to gather as much input as we could so they would have a week or two if they want to move forward with something (on the May ballot)."

District treasurer Tammy Woods said paperwork must be filed by Feb. 6 to place a bond issue for new or renovated facilities on the May 6 ballot. She told ThisWeek that would require two separate board meetings for the legislation to be filed by Feb. 6.

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