Frequently Asked Questions
What will be the total cost of the proposed JPS Capital Improvement Project?
The estimated cost of the five-year capital improvement project is not to exceed $86.5 million. This amount represents the total sum that will support the scope of the entire project, with repairs and improvements to be made in eleven district buildings.
How will this project impact my taxes?
Because the project will be fully funded by NYS building aid and district reserve funds, there will be a zero percent increase to local school taxes to pay for this project. We are fortunate to be able to make a significant investment in the improvement of our facilities with absolutely no impact to the local taxpayer.
When and where do we vote?
The vote on the capital project referendum will take place along with the vote for the annual budget and board election. Polls will be open on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 from noon to 9 p.m. Only registered voters may vote at your designated polling place — Lincoln Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School, or Washington Middle School. If you have questions about where you should vote, please call the JPS District Clerk at 483-4420.
Why is it important to do this work now?
We need to preserve an educational environment that will help all children to learn and grow by maintaining, protecting, and enhancing our facilities. The last capital improvement project was approved in 2011, and the improvements needed at that time have been completed in phases since then. Based on a recent assessment of our building conditions, it is clear that there are many critical needs to be addressed. The scope of work is significant and cannot be funded by the local budget alone, without an undesirable impact to local property taxes, therefore the state building aid addresses nearly all of the cost. The upgrades, renovations, and replacements outlined in the 2022 Capital Project are needed improvements to keep our students warm, safe, and dry in a positive learning environment, with no additional burden on local taxpayers.
How does the JPS capital improvement project benefit the community?
A school district’s facilities are a reflection of its educational program. A quality school district helps to protect and increase property values while enhancing marketability to attract future homeowners. Not only can the proposed project be completed with no increase to local taxes, it has the potential to improve property values by improving the overall condition of our school buildings and the appeal of our community.
How was it determined which improvements to include in the JPS capital project?
The planning process for the proposed project began in 2019 with a Building Condition Survey (BCS) as in-depth evaluation of our facilities with input from principals, custodians, and district staff. We also sought input from several committees, including parents and staff, to recommend the improvements they would most like to see in our schools. The district planning team has worked with architectural firm Young & Wright, along with engineers and other consultants, to prioritize the scope of work based on information from the BCS and committee recommendations.
Can we wait to address the items included in the 2022 JPSCapital Project?
Based on our building condition surveys performed by engineers and architects, delaying the work proposed in the 2022 Capital Project would result in further deterioration of items that require immediate attention or replacement.
How will the JPS capital project be funded?
The JPS Capital Improvement Project will be funded through borrowing to be paid over a period of time. In order to repay the loans used for this project, debt payments will be offset by New York State building aid. The New York State building aid ratio for JPS is 98% – which means, for every dollar spent on capital improvement work, the district receives 98 cents in aid. The remaining 2% will be funded by district reserve funds (a voter-sanctioned savings account for this specific purpose) and other state funds specific to capital improvement work. These funding sources enable the district to complete $86 million in necessary improvements with no additional cost to the local taxpayer.
Why doesn’t JPS use these funds to maintain staff and programs?
Under New York State law, the district cannot borrow money to fund personnel or other operational costs. However, money can be borrowed to invest in modernization and improvement of learning spaces that better support students, teachers, and staff.
Why not fund repairs and renovations through the regular budget?
Large building projects such as roofs, plumbing, and structural renovations are too costly to include in a school district’s annual operating budget. Through a bond vote, we are able to borrow funds to be repaid with state building aid that may only be used for capital projects, and cannot be used for operational expenses. By spreading the cost over several years through a capital project, and maximizing available building aid, we are able to complete millions of dollars of essential repairs and renovations with no impact to the local taxpayer.
If there is no impact to our local taxes, the project should easily pass. Why should I bother to vote?
In order to proceed with the project, we must have 60% of the voters approval. Over the past several years, Jamestown has seen very low voter turnout in contrast to the size of our population. It is essential that more of our community come out to vote so that we can both achieve the 60% requirement, and so we know that we are moving forward with a vote that is representative of our community.
What happens if the vote fails?
In order to keep our schools open and operating safely, there are required elements of the JPS Building Condition Survey that must be completed with or without a capital project. If the capital project is not approved by the voters, the district would need to fund this work directly, without the benefit of building aid, which would likely require a tax increase and reduction in staff and programs.