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Group wants to establish not-for-profit

$115K left over in athletic fund

JOHNSTOWN — A fundraising committee instrumental in raising money from residents and businesses to assist the Greater Johnstown School District’s financially-floundering athletic program last year is now trying to establish a not-for-profit foundation to maintain about $115,000 in leftover funding.

The committee had been formed in 2019 after the first school district budget had failed and local citizens wanted to save athletics.

The budget for the 2019-20 school year eventually passed, but the spending plan eliminated athletics for the 2019-20 school year. The committee did massive fundraising to raise a needed $311,000 so athletics could be reinstated last school year for every Johnstown student who wished to participate.

For the 2020-21 school year, the approved district budget has already completely funded athletics again.

Committee member Christine Krempa, the district’s field hockey coach, explained Thursday that the committee still has just short of $115,000 in leftover funds that were donated last year. The funding is in an account of the established Purple and Gold sports booster club.

She said that when the first budget in 2019 failed, the nine-member committee was formed of: Three Purple and Gold members, three community members, and three coaches.

“We decided we had to have a committee,” Krempa said.

When the committee started raising money, she said the Purple and Gold group let the committee put donated money into one of its accounts. But now to be completely “transparent,” Krempa said the committee is in the process of forming a legal not-for-profit Johnstown Athletics Foundation, in which to put the funding into.

Krempa said the committee is currently working with the state to officially incorporate the foundation. She said that originally before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the hope was there would be no money left from what was raised, but now there is now a surplus. She said bylaws have been written for the foundation which indicate that for the first year of the foundation – perhaps 2020-2023, the leftover money can only be used to save the athletic program again if the district has a failing budget again and eliminates sports.

“That money was raised with the intention of saving sports in the city of Johnstown,” Krempa said.

After three years, she said the money if left could possibly be used by the foundation for other things such as funding a scholarship or fixing a scoreboard.

“That is well down the road,” Krempa said. “We want to make sure this is done properly.”

The Greater Johnstown School District has no control over use of the leftover funding, the Board of Education heard recently. Board member Joyel Richardson brought up the topic of leftover funds at the board’s special virtual meeting.

Interim Superintendent Geelan interjected that leftover funds can’t be used by the district this coming athletic year without the club’s permission.

“Only if that’s the will of the group,” Geelan said.

Richardson said the group in early 2020 left a surplus in its sports account.

Board President Christopher Tallon noted funding was only fundraised for sports. He asked if it could be rolled over for the next school year.

Geelan said the district has no power over or ties to the fundraising group. She said the group can donate the money to the district if it desires.

Tallon said there is a possibility money fundraised raised in 2019 might just “sit there” in a trust, probably not the original intention of people who donated it. But he expressed a hands off approach on district involvement.

“I don’t want to see this turn into some kind of nightmare,” Tallon said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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