Carthage is considering a proposal for a performing arts center | Local news

CARTHAGE, Mo. – The Carthage Education Council is due to vote this month to place a bond issue on the ballot in April to build a new performing arts center on the Carthage High School campus .

Superintendent Mark Baker recently shared more details, including schematics and sketches of what a performing arts center might look like, with the board of directors.

He said the existing 800-seat auditorium, located at the Sixth Grade Center, serves as the district’s performing arts center, but it is outdated and too small for the district’s needs.

“We should always keep the best interests of the children as a thought process for the program, the instruction and the buildings,” Baker said. “Think about teaching time, teaching opportunities, teaching space – three things we look at in any building. When we build a new building, these are the things we look at. “

Baker said that the current auditorium, built in 1987, is insufficient in many other areas, including the size of the stage and the lack of storage space and changing rooms.

“We have gone beyond what we have,” he said.

Another important factor is the loss of instructional time when students have to go back and forth between the school and the auditorium, which is 4 km away. Students lose seven minutes of teaching traveling in each direction, a significant amount compared to a single day of school, Baker said.

He said the new building will be a performing arts center, not an auditorium.

“An auditorium is where the event takes place; a performing arts center is all encompassing, ”said Baker. “In our new facility, if approved by the board and the audience, the orchestra, choir (and) theater will all come together in the facility they will use. For now, they may need to practice in their bedroom and then take the stage later. “

With the addition of a performing arts center, the district could take existing spaces dedicated to these programs and turn them into classrooms, he said.

Funding

Two years ago, the board discussed “one plan, two projects,” a proposal that initially aimed to expand the technical center in Carthage and build a new performing arts center.

That proposal was eventually scaled back, and in 2020 voters approved a $ 10 million bond issue to add to the South Tech Center and renovate the North Tech Center in Carthage. The measure extended the district’s debt service tax by 83 cents per $ 100 of assessed assessment, which was scheduled to expire in 2034, to 2040.

Baker and the board then made the decision to seek $ 5 million in private donations to fund part of the cost of the performing arts center and to opt for another bond issue, to expand again the 83 cent tax, to finance the rest.

But Baker now says the tax conditions have changed since 2020. If voters approve the 83-cent tax extension for another two years, that would allow the district to borrow about $ 18 million, which is close to the amount needed. to pay for the performing arts center. , he said.

The district has already pledged to Pat and Carolyn Phelps and their family to donate $ 750,000 to the performing arts center, and Baker said fundraising can begin in earnest now that the district has funds. drawings to show what people were giving to.

“The $ 18 million will be close to what we need to build it,” Baker said. “With the extra money promised that we will eventually get from pledges, it will net us close to $ 20 million and get roughly what we need. He won’t get everything we want, but he will get what we need.

Board members seemed generally in favor of putting the issue to a ballot in April. No one has publicly questioned the need for the performing arts center, although some wondered if there was a way to get more than the center from a bond issue and federal money from district coronavirus assistance.

Patrick Scott, a board member, said the community has spoken loudly that the new performing arts center is a priority.

“It’s just something that we have to do as a community, especially if it’s something that they’ve said on a number of occasions that it’s a top priority,” Scott said.


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William E. Bennett