Johnstown police at Greater Johnstown High School

Four Johnstown City Police Officers were sent to the Greater Johnstown High School on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, to serve as backup after a gun threat was reported to district officials on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

Will the shifting of titles and duties for numerous Greater Johnstown School District administrators lead to safer schools and a calmer community?

That’s the mission, district leaders said as the school board on Wednesday approved a series of moves reportedly to address rising levels of violence within the schools and unrest on the outside.

The dissatisfaction reached a crescendo in April, when the Greater Johnstown Education Association announced a vote by union members of no confidence in Superintendent Amy Arcurio and Director of Special Education Amie Lumadue. That moment was followed within weeks by an alleged attack within the high school that saw two 18-year-old students charged with felony aggravated assault.

The school district provided a few concrete examples of how the position changes will reverse a trend of violent behavior by some students and address continuous calls at school board meetings for meaningful change – indeed, of how this will be something other than a proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

We’ll reserve judgment until results take shape after the new school year begins in late August – when the district’s internal culture will be under an intense microscope of scrutiny.

“I think next year, school is going to be the safest place to be,” school board President Eugene Pence declared as the staff moves were being finalized.

We hope he’s right.

Here’s what action was taken, as our Josh Byers reported:

• Michael Dadey was elevated from high school principal to assistant to the superintendent, while retaining his roles of safety coordinator and vocational director.

• William Cacciotti was promoted from assistant principal at the middle school to succeed Dadey as high school principal.

• Kurt Hoffman is moving from assistant high school principal to become principal at the elementary school.

• Douglas Henry will become principal of Park Avenue School, overseeing the alternative education program, after previously serving as the elementary principal.

No plan was announced for the now-vacant assistant principal posts at the high school and the elementary school.

Nearly every move was passed unanimously by the school board.

“We’re thinking if we shuffle some people around, make some new moves, maybe we can improve some things,” school board member Randy Romesburg said. “That’s the reason for those moves.”

Greater Johnstown recently increased the presence of city police officers in its buildings, along with installing metal detectors at the doors of the high and middle schools.

This past week saw the district sign a three-year deal with GardaWorld to provide enhanced security.

Greater Johnstown is also developing stricter guidelines for cellphone use in an attempt to tone down social media activity that likely contributes to aggressive behavior among students.

“We are constantly looking at options and making decisions that could potentially set us up for success,” Arcurio said.

“Last year, we had quite the challenge of student behavior, and so the board has ... worked incredibly hard to look at any potential options that set us up at the beginning of this school year ... to respond better to students’ behaviors.”

We wish these administrators – Dadey, Cacciotti, Hoffman and Henry – all the best with their new responsibilities.

But we realize that the considerable actions taken within the school system will not alone turn the tide for Greater Johnstown.

The district will lean on partnerships with the city police and housing departments in tracking activities that might bring trouble to the schools – and will continue engaging families to create a more positive culture in homes and neighborhoods.

The district desperately needs Greater Johnstown parents to work with their kids to tone down the rhetoric – especially on social media – so that more students arrive at district buildings focused on lessons and positive activities rather than disruptive or even dangerous actions.

The commitment of parents to creating a positive learning environment will be just as important as the work of administrators who have been shifted into new roles.

But make no mistake, the success of these moves will be graded strictly on the culture at Greater Johnstown going forward.

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