Johnstown district voters overwhelmingly approve $15 million capital project

Donna VanAernam casts her ballot inside Johnstown High School Tuesday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Donna VanAernam casts her ballot inside Johnstown High School Tuesday.

JOHNSTOWN — Residents in the Greater Johnstown School District overwhelmingly approved the district’s proposed $15 million capital project and the district’s new energy performance contract in a pair of votes on Tuesday.

Taxpayers approved the capital project by a 215-104 margin, with 67 percent of residents backing the proposal to upgrade district buildings.

The project will see the district conduct a series of renovations to five district buildings, including repairs in the high school lecture hall, renovations to the gymnasium at Warren Street Elementary School and new exterior LED lighting at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School.

Johnstown Superintendent Dr. William Crankshaw said the administration was thankful that residents had backed the district’s capital plan by a comfortable margin.

“The Johnstown community is incredibly resilient and well-focused on its students’ education,” Crankshaw said on Wednesday. “They’ve been supportive in the improvement process and they understand the importance of having the buildings in excellent shape. The campuses and buildings are a community resource and I sense a lot of pride in them in Johnstown. So it’s a natural support for taking care of the things that they value.”

In the Tuesday balloting, voters also approved a 15-year energy performance contract (EPC) between the district and the John W. Danforth Company which is not to exceed $3 million.

Voters backed the referendum by a 216-98 margin.

The capital project will be paid for by utilizing $1 million from the district’s reserves and financing the remaining $14 million. The district will receive 92 percent state aid financing for both the capital project and the energy contract.

According to the district, the $15 million project will not result in an increase in the district’s tax levy.

With voters giving their stamp of approval to the capital project, Crankshaw said the district will prepare for future infrastructure upgrades to district facilities.

“The State Education Department requires every school district every five years to conduct a building condition survey,” he said. “That’s a written and pretty involved process that we’ll need to do in 2025. We’ve already identified items in the last building condition survey in 2020 that we were able to put on hold for another capital project that we’ve loosely begun planning for 2027 or 2028.”

Crankshaw added that in five years’ time, debt from prior capital projects would be coming off the books in time for another potential project.

“It would be an opportunity for us to garner the maximum state aid and do the most improvements based on the new condition survey and old one together,” he said. “We don’t really have a solid plan for that capital project at this point in time, but we’re looking forward to robust planning, which is a continuous cycle.”

Crankshaw said the district will focus on the design phase for the just-approved capital project in the next several months before turning its attention to any future projects.

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