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Vote scheduled Tuesday for auditorium renovation budget at Bellwood-Antis

The Bellwood-Antis School Board of Directors learned Tuesday evening the cost of renovations to the auditorium at the middle/high school has nearly doubled since estimates were last discussed at a November meeting.
Directors heard an updated construction plan from the district’s architect Rick Witt, from L.R. Kimball & Associates Inc. Originally, the directors entertained the idea of $554,242.50 worth of renovations in the 46-year-old facility, but Witt provided revised plans that pushed the total well over $1 million.
“As the project has grown in scale, it has also grown in complexity,” said Witt. “As we walked through the auditorium, we noted the additions and renovations that needed to be completed to make the area safer. This drove up the costs.”
According to Rodney Kuhns, the district’s superintendent, board members inspected the area and decided that simple renovations weren’t the only things needed to bring the auditorium to a safe standard. The information gathered was then submitted to Witt, who in turn, inspected the area again and proposed the revised cost estimate to the board. According to his estimates, the project now stands at $1.333,343.
“Now that number is a little high and we’re expecting that a good number of items in the projected budget will come in under what’s outlined here,” said Kuhns.
According to Witt, changes to the preliminary plan included adding new doors at the rear of the facility, adding new technology to both the stage and auditorium areas, removal of asbestos from the stage are and new construction and developing layout plans for general lighting and sound.
Board members said the auditorium is also in need of a new rigging system. The current system was designed and built in the 1930s and is a fixture in the building. Official hope a new, mobile rigging fixture would allow stage crews to change stage lighting and hanging props without using a ladder.
The project is being funded through monies secured from a $2 million bond that was floated earlier this year, said Kuhns. He noted the large expenditure does not affect tax payers because the bond was acquired at such a low-interest rate.
Nearly a quarter of that bond amount has already been spent on property purchase and another $119,000 of that funding is pending for other purposes – leaving a balance of about $1.39 million.
Kuhns said the board is expected to adopt a preliminary budget at the next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 14 in the cafeteria of the middle/high school.
“This budget, of course, will be tentative,” said Kuhns. “As I stated earlier, I would hope that it’s finished under budget, but there are so many things we have to put a price on now to get the project going, that may change when it comes time to begin the project.”
According to Kuhns, if the board adopts a tentative budget next week, further planning can be done and the bids can go out as early as July. He hopes the work could be completed in the summer when students are not in classes.