Greater Johnstown High School

Greater Johnstown High School is shown in this file photo from Jan. 3, 2017.

“No new taxes.”

That was a muffled statement whispered from an audience member at the Greater Johnstown school board meeting on Tuesday.

During the meeting, board members voted to pass the final general operations budget, which does not increase the tax rate.

The proposed budget lists revenues in the amount of $50,105,865; estimated expenditures in the amount of $50,355,865; use of the general fund balance in the amount of $250,000; and establishes the millage rate at 48.62 mills.

Eric Kocsis, the district’s business manager, believes there’s still a chance that the district can balance the remaining deficit and break even prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

“There are some unknowns out there that we have, that we need to budget for, and we’ll see how that comes in,” Kocsis said after the meeting. 

“This took a lot of hard work by a lot people – not just me. 

“The board made a lot of hard decisions and all of the administration, all of the teachers, all the support staff.

“This was truly a team effort.”

The board has voted to increase taxes only once in the past 24 years. 

The approval to raise taxes occurred during 2017-2018, when the district had originally projected a deficit of about $4.5 million for the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Amy Arcurio applauded the entire district for working together to keep costs down and also commended Kocsis for his efforts to balance the budget.

“Money matters and Mr. Kocsis has done a great job with putting us on solid ground,” Arcurio said during the meeting. 

Summer in the City

The district’s Summer in the City program has been in jeopardy in recent years due to a lack of funding. 

This year, the program was originally scheduled to run for only two weeks during the upcoming summer months.

However, a recent $400,000 grant has breathed fresh air into the program.

The school district was the recent recipient of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Cohort 10 grant, which will fund after-school activities and programs such as Summer in the City in the elementary and middle schools.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students and their families,” Arcurio said. 

“The Summer in the City program is an opportunity – free to families – that gives children not only academic support, but it also gives them opportunities to go on field trips, sharpen their social skills and really just keep up with learning as the summer progresses.” 

Summer in the City will now be held at both the elementary and middle schools from June 17 through Aug. 1.

Ronald Fisher is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @FisherSince_82.