Work on Central arts center expected to begin in September

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
From left, Ron Kiefer, Danny Leible and Bobby Scott, of Brock Miller Construction, pour footings for a retaining wall Tuesday at Franklin Elementary School in Cape Girardeau. (Kristin Eberts)

Officials in the Cape Girardeau School District are hopeful for a September groundbreaking on the 1,000 seat performing arts center to be built at Central High School.

Neil Glass, director of administrative services for the district, said bids have been received for the construction of the approximately 24,000-square-foot facility, but came in over the $6,868,446 budget. The center will be on the high school's east side.

Glass said the bids were too high because of the cost of a large amount of structural steel that would be needed for the building, as well as costs for additional work on footing piers that would be needed to overcome soil conditions that aren't favorable according to an engineering analysis.

Glass said the district had anticipated the bids would exceed the amount that can be spent on the center, so before design plans are finalized, the district is looking for ways to make some changes that will save money on construction. A combination of the lowest bids received by the district for the costs of general contracting, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, fire protection, exterior finish drywall, roofing, electrical and an elevator go over the desired cost of the center without the costs of stage equipment for the theater, seating and a sound system added in.

In addition to the theater, the performing arts center is currently planned to include a workshop to construct stage sets, dressing rooms, a kitchen, a lobby corridor and a green room.

High school principal Mike Cowan said the addition of the center will finally put a stop to juggling performance dates with the junior high, where high school students have performed their plays in the past.

"Neither school has been able to offer opportunities to participate in performing arts like they will be able to now," Cowan said.

Cowan said it is his hope that the new center will also mean the resurrection of technical theater courses, which haven't been possible because of a lack of space since the school moved to the current location nine years ago. In addition, he said, the new space will be used daily for instruction and allow room for students to hear guest speakers. Physical education classes in the gym will no longer need to be interrupted for large student gatherings like entire class meetings.

The performing arts center and additional classrooms at the high school are part of the $40 million bond issue approved by voters in 2010. Glass said if construction of the center goes according to schedule, it should be completed by December 2012.

Work is underway now on the new Franklin Elementary School. The $10 million project to construct a new Franklin Elementary School began earlier in the summer. The new school will be two stories and sit west of the current school, which will be torn down.

Glass previously said the bids for the school came in on target with what the district had planned to spend.

Construction is on schedule to be completed in the summer of 2012 and the building will be ready for students at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. Bidding will be open soon for the addition of a library wing at the junior high school.

Bidding will also soon open on the classroom additions at the high school. While the district would like to add 22 classrooms on the south side of the building, only 16 are budgeted. Cowan said if a bid was low enough, the district could add 22 classrooms, including alternate projects such as a fourth art studio and a third family and consumer sciences lab. Both would be classroom additions which Cowan said are needed at the high school to suit student interest.

"The main motivation for a new art studio is the enrollment analyses that have been done every year since the school opened," Cowan said. He said every year students have been turned away from art classes because the lists are always full.

A third family and consumer sciences lab would meet the same need, he said.

The main purpose of the classroom addition is to alleviate the number of classes that are meeting in different locations throughout the year because of a lack of space.

"Last year we had 54 traveling sections," Cowan said. "With more room, more of these classes will have a home."

As the district begins to look toward new projects, the largest so far in a long list of improvements is close to completion. The football team will play its first game at the new high school stadium on Sept. 2.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

301 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

1000 S. Silver Springs Rd., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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