Carthage School Board hears a proposal for a performing arts center | Local News


CARTHAGE, Missouri – Since the construction of Carthage’s new high school in 2007, students, faculty and staff have yearned for a place to present plays and choral and orchestral performances without visiting the old high school and in the current sixth grade center.

With the rapid increase in the number of students in the Carthage School District and with age, the old 800-seat auditorium has become too small and obsolete for high school performance.

A new performing arts center on the South River Street campus was one of the priorities in the Carthage 2020 master plan created in 2010 for the future of the neighborhood, and it was one of the few top priorities left incomplete when this master plan was reconsidered by the neighborhood and the public a decade later.

On Monday evening, Superintendent Mark Baker presented the first drawings and the initial floor plan of a performing arts center that, if approved by voters, could finally become a reality in 2024.

“We’ve been talking about this for years,” Baker said. “We talked about this at Carthage 2020 in 2010, Carthage 2020 and beyond in 2019. It’s something we need to commit to at some point. If the board wants to put this on the April ballot, you will need to approve the language of the ballot in January. Basically, we still have two months to get this information out. It’s a public document, so we’ll share it. In December, I’ll bring you more information and renders, the potential language of the ballot, and sort of discuss the money we have.

2 possibilities

Baker presented two options for a 1,250-seat auditorium to be built between Carthage High School and the new Tigers Activities Center on the campus of 2600 S. River St.

The main difference between the two options is aesthetics.

“Whichever version of the facade of the building we choose, we made sure that the entrance hall leading to the classroom is the same,” Baker said in an interview on Tuesday. “The big difference lies mainly in the facade of the building. Do we want the traditional symmetrical lines or are we going for a more curved approach? and right now most people say option two, which is the curved approach.

Baker said the early designs call for classroom space for vocal music, drama and instrumental music lessons behind the auditorium.

The drawings show the choir and vocal music programs on the north side of the building closer to the existing high school, the drama classes in the middle, and the instrumental and orchestral music classroom space on the south side closer to the activity center and football stadium.

Baker said the administrators and architect worked with teachers in those programs to figure out how to set up their classrooms and what the center needs.

“We worked with our staff and architects to try to figure out what we really need and then what we want,” Baker said. “We have to remember that the main purpose of this facility is to educate the students. It’s not about bringing a show to Broadway. It’s for education, academics. Now obviously we’re going to build it where we can bring in plays, but that’s for our students first.

Cost and taxes

Baker said the district plans announced two years ago when voters approved the expansion of the Carthage Tech Center were to organize a campaign to raise $ 5 million from the community, then go to voters and demand a tax increase that would raise an additional $ 10 million. to $ 14 million, but things have changed.

Baker said it now appears the district will have the capacity, under state law, to raise $ 18 million by expanding the existing property tax on the district’s debt service without increasing it.

This means that the private fundraising campaign will still take place, but it will not have to raise $ 5 million.

The district has already received a pledge from the family of Pat and Carolyn Phelps for $ 750,000 for the center, but it has not actively fundraised since the donation was announced.

“We want to collect as much as we can, but it’s not as critical as it was two years ago,” Baker said. “The goal is to use the fundraising money to go beyond what our regular budget and spare bond money will buy because it’s always a projection, the cost of the building. We always look at what teachers wanted versus what they need versus the overall price. We’ll start the fundraising process within a month or two once we have better renderings so people can actually see the plans and visualize what it’s going to look like.


Baker told the board that one of the goals will be to free up more space in the current high school by moving the orchestral, choir and theater programs to a new building.

“This is the part that frustrates me but shows how much we need,” Baker said. “We promoted this building (the South Tech Center expansion) saying that we were going to help our high school. We were going to take five or six classes out of high school, bring them to the Tech Center to open up places in high school.

“We don’t have any additional rooms in the school yet. In six months we have filled all the rooms we have moved here, so yes it is still necessary. What if this passes, we will turn the three areas they currently use – theater, instrument and song – into additional classrooms. “

Board members asked Baker if some of the millions of dollars in federal COVID-19 aid could be used to build the performing arts center. He said it was possible, but he wanted to use those funds for other priorities.

When asked what other facility needs the district has, Baker said he wanted to add to the district daycare center on Fairview Avenue.

“We need to support early childhood literacy,” he said. “We have added three classes in Pleasant Valley, we need more classes in our early childhood center. and at some point we have to tackle the baseball field. These are the three big projects that we see coming.

Baker said the city is in the process of creating a master plan for the parks that uses the existing Carl Lewton Stadium in the city park for other purposes.

The Carthage Tigers baseball team is the sole current user of the stadium, who is over 80 years old. Baker said the district plans to build a baseball diamond at the northeast corner of the high school campus.

Board member Ryan Collier suggested adding a new baseball field plan to the performing arts centre’s bond show, but Baker said he didn’t think it was a good one. idea.

“We really know it’s not in good shape,” Baker said. “There is nothing ADA compliant about this. If we tie them together, we just need to make sure that we promote it correctly. I just don’t want to take a performing arts center away.


William E. Bennett