Johnstown Library gets state nod for recharter

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Public Library received official word Tuesday that the state education department voted to recharter the facility as a school district public library.

Originally, the state was to approve the rechartering in November, but it was delayed until last week.

Library Director Erica Wing sent out an email to interested parties to spread the good news.

“I’m happy to share that I’ve received confirmation that the Board of Regents has approved the library’s new charter,” Wing stated. “There is much work to be done to ensure that we reach a January 1st transition date, but this is the news that we’ve been waiting for!”

Wing said Tuesday that the change is effective immediately.

Greater Johnstown School District residents voted June 5 to permanently establish the facility as a school district public library. Even though local voters approved the change, the 38 S. Market St. library had to wait until now to be officially rechartered. The library is obtaining its new charter through SED’s Division of Library Development.

The library transformation is based on financial need, officials say. The city is currently providing $275,000 this year for the library, but funding had become tenuous in recent years. The city funds 75 percent of the library budget. Now with a proposition approved, the facility begins 2019 with a set $396,528 community-based funding stream to work with.

Wing said some municipal library issues now still need to be resolved, such as transferring the library’s city lot.

“The goal is for the Jan. 1 complete transition,’ she said.

For the time being, she said both the old Board of Trustees and the new board will overlap somewhat.

The library currently has its longtime Board of Trustees. But with rechartering, seven trustees will govern the new library board. The new school district public library trustees will be Shelley Yerdon, Elizabeth Russo, John VanArnam, Debra Ammann, Elizabeth Camarra, Shannon King and Hari M. Kaliath.

Wing received a Dec. 11 letter from SED legal assistant Kirti Goswami indicating Board of Regents approval. The SED official said approval came that day.

“The formal charter document will be prepared and forwarded to you by the secretary to the Board of Regents,” Goswami wrote.

Greater Johnstown School District residents will, for future years, fund the new library operation with an allocation separate from the regular annual district budget. The district’s only responsibility is to disperse the library’s funding to it. The new library will be funded directly by school district residents.

The library’s chartered service area will expand from just the city of Johnstown to the Greater Johnstown School District, which also includes portions of the towns of Johnstown, Ephratah, Palatine and the city of Gloversville.

By Patricia Older

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