Board participates in leadership workshop


The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN – The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education went back to school Monday night, challenged to do better during a goals workshop at Johnstown High School.

Three representatives of the Capital Area School Development Association conducted a Leadership & Action Planning Workshop. Leading the workshop were: Terry Brewer, a retired East Greenbush superintendent; Jerry Steele, a former Green Island teacher; and Sharri Keller, a retired former Scotia-Glenville principal.

“This will be a goal-setting workshop,” district Superintendent Robert DeLilli told the seven board members present.

Steele said his group talks to school boards about five basic behaviors that establish trust: making and keeping promises, kindness, loyalty, honoring expectations and apologies.

“Communication is really the most important element in anything we do,” he said.

Brewer said CASDA recognizes that school boards face restraints from the state, such as the property tax-levy cap while they are trying to maintain programs. But he said school boards also need to try to improve themselves.

“We need to think of where the district needs to be in coming years,” Brewer said. “We call this smart goal planning.”

Steele asked board members what their best personal “style” was. The CASDA group posted signs in the JHS cafeteria that read: “caring,” “structure,” “meaning” and “action” and asked members to stand near the one that best suited them.

Board members present stood at the signs this way: Ronald Beck “action;” Angela Clizbe and Paul VanDenburgh at “caring;” Kathryn Zajicek and Mark Ward” at ‘meaning;” and Kathy Dougherty and Anne Cassidy at “structure.”

Beck explained he “hopefully can motivate” other board members to take action and be aggressive.

Zajicek said this of people in the “meaning” category: “We tend to be visionaries. We want to see us create and go in a different direction.”

With the structure designation, Dougherty said “you have to be research-based and have data to back up the decisions you make.”

The workshop also stressed how school board members can actually embrace state Education Department requirements and try to have the district be proactive. Transitions facing school districts range from the state Regents Action Plan to standards-based education, Steele said.

“I think we’re constantly going through change,” he said.

As another exercise, the CASDA representatives asked the board members to write down the biggest issue or issues they face in the immediate future. Keller read each one and most dealt with the potential of grade-level grouping.

Brewer said “a major concern” apparently indicated was grade-level grouping, but he praised the board for planning ahead on the district change. The district’s buildings will undergo a 2014-15 conversion to grade-level grouping. The makeup of the city’s three elementary schools will be this way: pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School; grades two and three at Glebe Street Elementary School; and grades four, five and six at Warren Street Elementary School.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at