CARTHAGE, Mo. – The Carthage School District will ask voters to approve a bond issue for a new performing arts center on the Carthage High School campus on River Street during the April 5 election.
The measure will require a 57.14% supermajority to pass and would extend the district’s current debt service levy of 83 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from 2040 to 2042 to raise approximately $18 million for construction of the center.
The vote to place the measure on the ballot was 5 to 2, with board members Karen Wilkinson and Bill Lasley voting “no”. Board members Niki Cloud, Ryan Collier, Jeff Jones, Patrick Scott and Nathan Terry voted “yes”.
Katie Crigger, vocal music teacher at Carthage High School, said she was excited about the building’s potential.
“It was a talking point in 2010 with Carthage 2020 and then again for Carthage 2020 and beyond in 2019, so it’s been a long, long time coming,” Crigger said after the board meeting. Monday evening. “I am truly optimistic and hope the community will listen with open ears and hearts as we move forward with this project. There is so much to gain not only for the students but also for the community itself.
The board has been discussing the performing arts center, including designs and a proposed floor plan, since November.
But the idea of a performing arts center on the high school’s campus was included in the original campus plan, created when the high school was proposed in 2004, and it’s been on priority lists for more than a year. decade.
When voters were asked to approve a $10 million bond issue to expand the Carthage Technical Center in 2020, Superintendent Mark Baker called the proposal “one plan, two projects,” including the performing arts center.
At that time, Baker proposed a plan for a private fundraising campaign to raise $5 million, and then the placement of a drawdown extension bond issue on the ballot to fund the rest of the $20 million estimated.
Then, at the November 2021 board meeting, Baker said the district’s financial situation had changed and that a debt drawdown extension bond issue would allow the district to borrow $18 million. dollars, far more than expected when the plan was first proposed.
This meant that the private fundraising campaign would only need to raise around $2 million.
Crigger said a new performing arts center will benefit hundreds of students who participate in music, choir and theater programs.
“This setup for them is just going to catapult them,” she said. “They are already fabulous musicians, actors and performers, but what a new facility could do for them would be amazing. We would have the ability to add more classes so we could train them on theater technology, lighting board, sound board, give them hands-on training on equipment that they can use and do those jobs , and well-paying jobs.
“We’ve passed the tech center bond issues and we have so many options there now, and it’s going to tie into that giving kids more opportunities to learn crafts in the arts world. of the stage, be it the technology of the theater, the performance, the band, the choir whatever.
Crigger said a new performing arts center would be available for use by all schools and students in Carthage as well as the community.
The space freed up by moving the orchestra, choir and theater programs to a new performing arts center will be available for classrooms at Carthage High School, which is already at capacity.
“If it passes in April, it will free up up to 10 classrooms in high school, depending on how they want to reuse that square footage,” Crigger said.
The district already has a pledge from John O. “Pat” and Carolyn Phelps and family to donate $750,000 to the performing arts center.
The district agreed in 2020 to name the facility the John O. and Carolyn Phelps Performing Arts Center in recognition of the donation, and Baker said fundraising can begin in earnest now that the district has drawings to show what people do too.
Baker told the board that three Carthage students will be recognized and represent the Carthage Technical Center during Governor Mike Parson’s State of the State address on Wednesday.
Baker said Danny Darland and Olivia Bourgault, students in the Tech Center’s health sciences program, and Carly Simpson, a student in the Project Lead the Way biomedicine program, will travel to Jefferson City with Baker, the Tech Center’s deputy director. Gage Tiller and their parents for the address.
Students will meet Parson and his wife for a chance to speak and for photos before the speech. The governor will recognize each student during the address.
Parson visited the Carthage Tech Center on October 14, 2021 and toured the South Tech Center, which has been expanded over the past two years with the addition of a wing that has approximately doubled in size.
The North Tech Center expansion and renovation was funded through the $10 million voter-approved bond issue in 2020.
He spoke with the students about the cutting-edge programs offered at the center, and according to Baker, Parson was impressed enough to invite the students to come to Jefferson City and represent Carthage at his annual address.
People can watch the governor’s speech live on the State of Missouri’s Facebook page.