Curtis Johnson named State High principal

Curtis Johnson was named State College Area High School principal Monday. He has been serving as interim principal since August.
Curtis Johnson was named State College Area High School principal Monday. He has been serving as interim principal since August. Centre Daily Times, file

During Monday evening’s meeting of the State College Area school board, Curtis Johnson was named as the principal of the State College Area High School.

Johnson, who has been on the high school’s administrative team for nearly 13 years, has been serving as interim principal since August, after the departure of Scott DeShong.

“Our district is very fortunate to have Mr. Johnson as our high school principal. His commitment, vision for our future and his own development over time really evidence his ability to lead our high school both now and in the future,” Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said.

Later in the evening, the board reviewed the proposed final budget for 2016-2017. The budget includes a 4.32 percent real estate tax increase, $144,611,162 in revenue and $146,985,032 in expenses.

After the review, the board voted to approve the proposed final budget, with board member Laurel Zydney casting the lone dissenting vote.

Next, the board discussed potential changes to the 2016-2017 academic calendar.

The changes include school starting on Aug. 29 and ending on June 9, 2017. In addition, the traditional three-day “spring break-let” will be extended to five days taking place from March 6 to 10.

After a discussion, the board voted to approve the changes to the calendar. David Hutchinson was the only board member to vote against the changes.

Later in the night, the board voted on whether to approve the districtwide facilities master plan update.

The vote arrived nearly a week before a state moratorium on PlanCon reimbursement for new projects. In order to remain eligible, the district must submit its PlanCon justifications for elementary school projects by May 15, which could protect between $2.2 million and $2.4 million in state reimbursement for two projects.

Potential renovations or new construction projects at Houserville, Radio Park and Corl Street elementary schools will all be under consideration.

The possible consolidation of the Lemont and Houserville schools, which has been mentioned in past master plans going back to 1999, also remains on the table.

PlanCon documents list the estimated maximum project costs at between $16.5 million and $19.3 million for Houserville, between $17 million and $19.8 million for Radio Park and between $11 million and $12.2 million for Corl Street.

The PlanCon application does not lock the board into costs or design plans and the district can choose not to proceed with any of the proposed projects.

After further discussion, the board approved the DWFMP in a 7-2 vote.

Back in April, the district also applied for a state Department of Community and Economic Development grant that could reimburse school projects by 10 percent and up to $2 million.

The grant application required the district to identify specific renovation or construction projects as possibilities. Radio Park and Houserville elementary schools were listed because they are projected to be the most costly to upgrade.

Monday evening’s vote does not commit the board to any particular course of action with regards to elementary school construction or renovation, but rather begins a process that will continue to unfold over the next several months.

Crabtree Rohrbaugh and Associates and Massaro Construction Management Services, the team leaders for the State High project, will oversee the process of updating the master plan.

This includes developing initial designs for the selected schools and a demographic analysis of the district’s enrollment areas that will help to inform decisions about the elementary school projects moving forward.

Public feedback meetings will begin in May and community discussions about design options are scheduled for September.

The adoption of a final plan is targeted for October.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready