School administrators get raises

JOHNSTOWN – The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education granted district administrators raises Thursday night, but it kept details about the agreement secret.

The board voted 8-0 to change the district’s agreement with the Johnstown Administrators Association, which includes building principals.

A one-paragraph item in the agenda stated the changes between the district and administrators group are for July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2015.

The board gave no indication about who is receiving the raises, how much they are or how the district is going to pay for them.

The only comment from the board during the vote came from member Kathy Dougherty.

“I would like to thank you for finalizing this,” she said.

Looking over at the principals and other administrators seated during the session, Dougherty added, “This is a small acknowledgment for the effort you put in.”

The Leader-Herald questioned why the details weren’t made public and was told it might be made public through a state Freedom of Information Law request next week at the earliest.

Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, said today the Johnstown school district should release the information immediately.

“I’m going to say something I’ve said a thousand times,” Freeman said. “If there’s details in a record that’s been approved, there’s no doubt that record needs to be disclosed.”

Freeman questioned why the district was withholding the information, adding that possible “embarrassment” to a public body is no reason to withhold information from the public.

During the public-comment period after the board’s action, Dick Baker of Route 67 questioned why the board wasn’t providing the details about the change to the administrators’ agreement.

Board President Paul VanDenburgh answered Baker by noting changes to the agreement includes raises in the administrators’ contracts. He said the administrators have put in extra time and work.

“This is a token of our appreciation,” VanDenburgh said.

After the meeting, The Leader-Herald requested further information but was told by VanDenburgh it wasn’t being made available Thursday night.

He said he “hadn’t even signed” the agreement modification yet.

Freeman said the fact the board president hadn’t signed the modification is immaterial. He said if the board approved the matter, details should have been made available immediately.

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