Auditorium projects in progress
Two area school districts’ auditorium projects are moving forward.
Since receiving a grant of $2.5 million from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) in May, the Washington Betterment Committee has raised $4.5 million altogether for the auditorium at Washington High School, said Washington Betterment Committee co-chairmen Robert Youngquist and Jan Gallagher.
They have begun to meet with architects to draw up plans for the auditorium. This afternoon Youngquist, Gallagher, and Washington Community School District (WCSD) Superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen are meeting with the architectural team to discuss revisions to the design for the auditorium.
One revision that is being looked at is additional seating for the auditorium.
“We are hoping to add at least 50 more seats because we have some large classes coming from the elementary schools,” Youngquist and Gallagher said.
Even with the additional seating the main plan is still the same, Gallagher and Youngquist said. According to a pamphlet given to WCRF board members at a meeting in April, some of the items the new auditorium will have include an orchestra pit, makeup room, lighting and sound control room, and two dressing rooms.
Construction on the auditorium will not begin until all of the money has been raised for the estimated $7 million auditorium, Jorgensen said.
“This is kind of a unique because it is not a school project,” Jorgensen said. “The way things are set up right now is the contracts will be done through the school district but the funds will be reimbursed through the foundation.”
Once all the money is raised for the auditorium, then the bidding process will begin, Jorgensen said.
Both Gallagher and Youngquist said the earliest the foundation would be financially ready to begin the construction process would be late next spring. They have also applied for a couple of grants for the auditorium but declined to say with whom until the grants are awarded.
Mid-Prairie Community School District also has plans for a new auditorium. Superintendent Mark Schneider said this has been an ongoing process in the district since 2008.
“I think the perception of the public is that Mid-Prairie did it because Washington did this, and that’s not true,” Schneider said. “The district identified this as a facilities project almost five years ago.”
In 2008, the school district set a facilities committee to identify projects in the school district they would like to see done, Schneider said. The committee met for a year and a half and the auditorium was one of 20 projects that were identified in the district.
“It’s not like we’re solely focusing on the auditorium,” Schneider said. “The auditorium was part of that list, and the feeling was always that the district would approach the (WCRF) board for some type of facilities project but wasn’t sure for what part of it.”
The district submitted a grant application to the WCRF for the fall grant awards asking for $2.5 million for its auditorium project. It would seat from 500 to 600 people and would be built on the east side of Mid-Prairie High School, Schneider said.
The district already has some money for the proposed auditorium project, Schneider said. A private donor has offered a $1 million donation to the district and another million would come from cash reserves the district has.
However, the rest of the funding would be left up to the public to decide as a bond vote, Schneider said. He said the district would wait to see if the WCRF gives them the grant.
“The goal is to have the bond vote in April, but we want to make sure we do things right first,” Schneider said.
If the district doesn’t receive the grant for the auditorium, then it will be up to the school board to decide, he said.