$2.5 million performing arts center remodeling to begin next summer

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By Jennifer Swanchara
Meridian Times staff writer

Exactly one month after district voters passed the 1.25 mill-tax for Haslett Public Schools, the Board of Administrators has begun looking ahead to reconstructing the high school’s performing arts center.

Rows of stage lights in storage under Haslett High School's stage.

Out-of-commission stage lights collect dust under the stage.

With an additional $660,000 available annually, the district hopes to be improve buildings without cutting into its K12 funding.

Steven Cook, director of finance for Haslett Public Schools, says the performing arts center renovation will be a three-year project and will cost $2.5 million.

“We wanted to start planning for what our needs are over the next 10 years rather than waiting for when things start to break or things start to deteriorate,” said Cook.

Trustee Chris Coady explained that, the 20-year-old performing arts center is not used solely by high school students.

“The performing arts center is used every day for different classes at the high school, community organizations use it for events and meetings, and our performing arts program in the district has been a highlight for us,“ Coady said.

According to Pat Hepfer, auditorium manager at the high school, the performing arts center offers its stage for 90 performances a year.

“When you count rehearsals and classes, the performing arts center is used almost every single day all of the time.”
—Pat Hepfer

Dressing room mirror with working and broken lights surrounding the mirror.

The dressing room acts as an additional storage space for the performing arts center.

Currently, the performing arts center has one dressing room, forcing one sex to change in the restrooms down the hall. Hepfer, 14-year manager, also explained the need for a new scene shop with additional storage.

“We are packed to the ceiling in some places with hardware because I don’t want to throw anything away since materials are expensive,” Hepfer said. “So we are trying to be as financially responsible as we can but we need to be able to store (our materials) properly.”

The rest of the $6.6 million fund will be spread throughout the district’s eight buildings.

“It’s basically a savings account we’ve established for the next 10 years to do building projects,” Cook said.

The first phase of the performing arts center remodeling will begin next summer with the dressing rooms and scene shop. Renovations will continue in two more phases before completion in 2016.

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