Tallon resigns as GJSD school board president


Chris Tallon, who tendered his letter of resignation from the office of president of the Greater Johnstown School District school board on Thursday, is seen at a Sept. 16, 2021, meeting at the Knox building.

Greater Johnstown School District officials confirmed on Thursday that school board president Chris Tallon has resigned with only about five months remaining of his three-year term.

“Mr. Tallon tendered his letter of resignation, and the Board of Education, at its Feb. 17 Board of Education meeting, will place acceptance of his resignation on the agenda,” GJSD Superintendent William Crankshaw wrote in an email Thursday.

No reason has been given for Tallon’s resignation, and he did not respond to text messages requesting a comment for this story.

Tallon’s resignation leaves the school board with 8 remaining members: Vice President Joseph LoDestro, Beverly Alves, Ronald Beck, David D’Amore, Patrick Oare, Joyel Richardson, Arthur Schrum, Jr. and Jennifer Sponnoble.

Crankshaw did not provide an answer Thursday to the question of whether or not the school board would appoint an interim replacement for Tallon leading up to the next school board election. If Tallon is not replaced, it could open the possibility for 4-4 tie votes of the board as it heads into its budget season. Crankshaw explained the protocol for the resignation of a board president.

“Board policy states that the Vice President [LoDestro] will assume the duties of president until the time at which the Board can make a decision on next steps,” Crankshaw wrote.

The GJSD board is set to shrink from nine members to seven after the May elections, after district voters approved the reduction in a referendum last year. Tallon, Lodestro and Oare all had three-year terms ending this year, potentially setting up a three-way race for one seat, if they had all chosen to run for reelection.

Tallon leaves the board after serving as its president from the time he was first sworn into office in 2019. Shortly after being sworn in, Tallon began telling members of the news media that the school board had put in place a policy whereby only he could comment on school district issues, a stark departure from the past. Although other school board members also said this was board policy, Tallon ultimately admitted in a social media post last April that no such policy existed.

His tenure would end up being one of the most tumultuous periods in the district’s history, having had to grapple with a deep fiscal crisis, three superintendents in three years, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Tallon proved to be a strong advocate for the district’s budgets and the property tax increases necessary to pay for them. In 2020, after the district’s first budget failed to attain the 60% supermajority needed for a 5% tax levy increase, the school board chose to put the same budget in front of voters again.

“I am going to ask every single one of our district residents to look deep down within themselves and ask what it is they want their community to look like,” Tallon said during a lengthy statement imploring the community to support the budget. “Because, without a school district, you will not have a community at all. The time to make another great stride to excellence was last night. But, we are lucky we are going to get another shot at this in a few weeks. So, let’s not make the same mistake twice. Let’s give our children, our school district, and our community what they deserve. We need your support now more than ever and we hope you can find it within yourself to lend us your support.”

In 2021, Tallon was often a vocal critic of the state’s coronavirus safety measures for schools, refusing to wear a mask during a number of Johnstown’s school board meetings in September, and sometimes clashing with other school board members over pandemic policies.

In the weeks leading up to his resignation, Tallon, who often posted political statements on his Facebook account, took to direct criticism of state officials seeking to maintain the mask mandate for schools.

“Governor Hochul, Commissioner Basset, Commissioner Rosa, and any other elected/appointed official who forcibly enacted the state wide mask mandates should be removed from office immediately!” Tallon wrote on Facebook on Jan. 24.

By Jason Subik

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