Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe school board poised to vote on May bond issue


The Johnstown-Monroe Board of Education on Jan. 21 is expected to vote to put a 6.55-mill bond issue and a 0.5-mill permanent-improvements levy on the May ballot.

The bond issue would raise $34.5 million to replace the four school buildings with two new buildings that would be maintained by $127,000 raised annually from the permanent-improvements levy.

Johnstown Superintendent Damien Bawn said the district is overcrowded by more than 160 percent and its buildings are aging. Because of space issues, kindergartners currently are housed with fourth- and fifth-graders at Searfoss Elementary School.

Bawn said the district would like to replace Searfoss and Oregon Elementary School with one building to house all K-5 students.

Adams Middle School and Johnstown High School would be replaced by a building housing all students in grades 6-12.

Bawn said the buildings would separate age groups so that younger children would not be in the same part of the building as older students.

The district has enough land near Oregon and Adams to build an elementary building and enough land at the high school to build a middle and high school building while keeping all four of those buildings open during construction, Bawn said.

The older buildings could be demolished after the new buildings are open, or the board could consider saving one of the buildings -- if it were economically feasible -- to use for maintenance, Bawn said.

The total project cost is estimated at $49.7 million, Johnstown treasurer Tamara Woods said.

Bawn said the state would contribute $15.9 million to the project through the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which provides tax money for new buildings. State-funded projects require that a permanent-improvements levy be requested with any bond issue, he said.

Woods estimated the bond issue and permanent-improvements levy would cost property owners $215.60 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value: $200.44 for the bond issue and $15.16 for the permanent-improvements levy.

The school's portion of the project, $34.5 million, includes $750,000 to do site improvements, replace fields that might need to be moved for construction and to preserve the performing-arts center by making it a standalone building.

Adams Middle School is the district's oldest building, constructed in 1927, with one addition made before 1956. Oregon Elementary School was built in 1951 and had additions in 1955 and 1985. Searfoss Elementary School was built in 1961 and had one addition in 1963. Johnstown High School was built in 1965 and had additions in 1968 and 1973, Bawn said.