New president named for Johnstown BOE

Three new Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education members taking office Monday night at Johnstown High School were, left to right: Joseph LoDestro, Christopher Tallon and Patrick Oare. Tallon was elected president at the session. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Creating a fresh start, the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education appointed one of its three newest members as its new president at Monday night’s reorganizational meeting at Johnstown High School.

New member Christopher Tallon was elected board president. He succeeds Kathy Dougherty, who chose not to run for re-election.

“I think the biggest thing, if you listen to the community members, is they’re looking for a new direction,” Tallon said this morning.

He said he hopes to help “establish a sense of trust” between the Johnstown school board and district residents to “move forward in a positive direction.”

The board also named Kathryn Zajicek, a former board president, as vice president for the coming year.

No sooner had new board members Tallon, Joseph LoDestro and Patrick Oare taken the oath of office for three-year terms, the board voted 8-0 to elect Tallon — of 2236 Route 67, Johnstown — as its new leader. Only board member Susanne Fitzgerald was absent.

Tallon had been outspoken during many of the strained, public budget sessions this spring, advocating for moving ahead with tax levy increases to avoid a contingency budget.

Longtime district Clerk Larraina Carpenter stated that Tallon was the first board member to have his obligatory board training completed by the time he took office. She noted that Oare is also currently halfway completed, and LoDestro was busy completing the training online.

Carpenter said that under state law, new school board members have to complete 12 hours of training their first year — six hours of fiscal responsibility training and six hours of governance training.

During Candidates Night last spring, Tallon identified himself as a 1998 district graduate with three children in the district. He said he went into the workforce after graduation and has worked at the same company for 19 years. He said he likes to join in, especially with non-profits, and be a change agent.

“I’ve spent a better part of my life giving back to the community,” Tallon said.

In other routine personnel matters approved during the session, the administration of a new oath of office was given to Superintendent Patricia Kilburn. She is one of two semi-finalists for the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES district superintendent position. The other is Keith Levatino, superintendent of the Little Falls City School District. A decision is expected later this month.

Other appointments made for the 2019-20 school year were: Carpenter as clerk; Melissa Baker as district treasurer and chief accounting officer; Ryan Auty as school tax collector; Suzanne Hall as district claims auditor; Nathan Littauer Hospital physician, Dr. Lawrence Horowitz, as school physician at a rate of $22,000 annually; the district clerk as census enumerator and record access officer; David Wood as “designated person” responsible for insuring that the activities required by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act are followed; and Assistant Superintendent Ruthie Cook as purchasing agent; Cook and JHS Principal Scott Hale as Title IX officers.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Josh Bovee

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