District may decide on plan

JOHNSTOWN – The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education this week will consider implementing a proposed grade-level grouping plan involving the city’s three elementary schools for the 2014-15 school year.

The board may make the decision at its next meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at Glebe Street Elementary School.

Board President Paul VanDenburgh said Tuesday he’s satisfied the board has let the public be heard on whether the district should move ahead with grade-level grouping.

“I feel we have answered all the questions,” he said.

VanDenburgh said if the plan passes, there still will be many more opportunities for the public to provide input as the district moves ahead with its implementation.

“The intention is still to have [future] forums to garner community involvement,” the board president said.

The proposed board resolution indicates the realignment “provides potential for maximization of educational opportunities for Johnstown students and staff in consideration of current resources.”

District officials say grade-level grouping will allow for team planning and collaboration between grade levels.

Under the reconfiguration plan, grades in the school district would be grouped as follows: pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade levels at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School; grade levels two and three at Glebe Street Elementary School; and grade levels four, five and six at Warren Street Elementary School.

Thursday’s proposed resolution says the Pleasant Avenue Elementary School building would be reconfigured to be an “early learning center” with a focus on a foundation in reading and math, “with a comprehensive approach to screening and diagnostics and early intervention resources.”

Glebe Street Elementary School would be reconfigured as a primary instruction center housing second and third grades. It would allow “for a focus on young readers and critical thinkers, incorporation of multiple subjects and hands-on learning experiences,” the resolution says.

The resolution states the Warren Street Elementary School building would become an “intermediate instruction center” allowing for incorporation of a “focus on problem solvers, student project-based learning, and band, chorus and art ensembles.”

District Superintendent Robert DeLilli said today the district’s review of grade-level grouping goes back at least a couple years.

“Part of the board goals set in October 2011 was to continue to look at restructuring,” he said.

He said the district has conducted several public forums on grade-level grouping and will continue to conduct “focus committees” that will fine-tune the restructuring effort, if the board decides to implement the program.

DeLilli discussed the proposal in a guest column published in Tuesday’s Leader-Herald. The column can be read online at www.leaderherald.com.