Johnstown district weighs projects

JOHNSTOWN – The Greater Johnstown School District is considering making improvements to all district buildings, possibly in the 2014-15 school year.

The Board of Education Facilities Committee last week talked about possible capital projects but didn’t get into many specifics, Superintendent Robert DeLilli said.

The district has not yet decided specific costs of the possible projects, officials said.

“The committee went over a laundry list of items for each building,” DeLilli said. “Through the discussion, the list is growing of needs in the district.”

Some of the ideas for work come from periodic building surveys the district is required to file with the state, DeLilli said.

Possible projects include new roofing, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, electrical work, paving and security systems, with possible cameras.

A report on the possible capital plan is scheduled to be given by the Facilities Committee at the board’s next full session at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Knox Junior High School.

DeLilli said there was a “consensus” reached among committee board members Kathryn Zajicek, Mark Ward and Douglas Dougherty that the full board needs to consider the capital projects, which would be the first in several years. Among the last capital projects were a new auditorium in 2008 for Johnstown High School and a synthetic athletic surface at Knox Field.

Board President Paul VanDenburgh said the time has come to look at the condition and general maintenance of all the district’s major buildings: the high school; Knox; Pleasant Avenue, Warren Street and Glebe Street elementary schools; and the former Jansen Avenue Elementary School.

“I think it’s all merited,” VanDenburgh said. “It’s got a lot of health and safety issues that we’ll be addressing in it. Look at the roofs and boilers. These items do have a useful life, and that has been exceeded. It makes it hard to find parts.”

DeLilli said the district may be able to obtain 95 percent state aid for capital projects. He said the proposed capital plan would be separate and unrelated to the district’s plan to start grade-level grouping at the elementary schools.

The district is launching an elementary school grade-level grouping plan starting with the 2014-15 school year. The makeup of the city’s three elementary schools will be this way: pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School; grades two and three at Glebe Street Elementary School; and grades four, five and six at Warren Street Elementary School.

The grouping plan will require some renovations at the schools. Officials estimated the costs at $40,000.

DeLilli said an architectural firm probably will take about eight months to a year to look at the district’s capital needs. He said an extensive capital plan would have to be approved by district voters in a public referendum.

Capital projects also may involve the former Jansen building, where the district is developing a new technology program, the “Learning Project,” starting in September. The program will involve busing JHS students for a half-day to the Jansen building. Problem-based instructional sessions there would replace traditional 40-minute periods.

Michael Anich can be reached at [email protected].

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