CARTHAGE, Mo. – The Carthage School Board 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 diagrams and drawings of what a performing arts center might look like, with the council.
He said the existing 800-seat auditorium, located at the Sixth Grade Center, serves as the district’s performing arts center, but is outdated and too small for the district’s needs.
“We should always keep the best interests of children as our thought process for curriculum, instruction, 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, those are the things we look at.”
Baker said the current auditorium, built in 1987, falls short in many other areas, including stage size and lack of storage and changing room space.
“We have exceeded what we have,” he said.
Another major factor is the loss of instruction time when students have to travel back and forth between high school and the auditorium, which is 2.5 miles away. Students lose seven minutes of instruction traveling in each direction, a significant amount of any school day, Baker said.
He said the new building would be a performing arts center, not an auditorium.
“An auditorium is where the event takes place; a performing arts center encompasses everything,” Baker said. “In our new facility, if approved by the board and the public, the band, the choir (and) the theater will all be together in the facility they are going to use. At this time, they may have to practice in their bedroom and then go on stage later.
With the addition of a performing arts center, the neighborhood could take existing spaces dedicated to these programs and turn them into classrooms, he said.
Two years ago, the board discussed “one plan, two projects,” a proposal that initially aimed to expand the Carthage Technical Center and build a new performing arts center.
This 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 levy of 83 cents per $100 of assessed assessment, which was scheduled to expire in 2034, until 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 launch another bond issue, to expand the tax again. of 83 cents, to fund the rest.
But Baker now says tax terms have changed since 2020. If voters approve extending the 83-cent tax for two more years, it 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 already has a pledge from 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 drawings. to show what people donate 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, this will bring us close to $20 million and get pretty much what we need. He won’t get everything we want, but he will get what we need.
Council members seemed generally supportive of putting the issue on the ballot in April. No one has publicly questioned the need for the performing arts center, although some have wondered if there is a way to get more than the center from a bond issue and the money from the show. Federal District Coronavirus Aid.
Board member Patrick Scott said the community has spoken loud and clear that the new performing arts center is a priority.
“It’s just something we need to do as a community, especially if it’s something that they’ve repeatedly said is a top priority,” Scott said.