Fine arts expansion postponed due to high bids


New additions: This is the blueprint for the expansion in the South building. The areas in bold represent the new additions to the Fine Arts department.

Last month, bids for the fine arts expansion came in $4 million dollars over budget, postponing the project’s August start date.

Bids are the projected cost of a project that architects estimate.
The Board of Education budgeted $10 million and according to the H-F Chronicle, Ed Wright of DLA Architects said the lowest bid was $14.37 million.

The architects are looking at some revisions that would allow at least a portion of the project to still be considered, Superintendent Dr. Von Mansfield said.

Mansfield also said the fine arts department is excellent and since one-third of students are a part of a fine arts program, it’s a substantial part of the educational experience for those students.

“For the past seven years we have looked at the spaces currently available to them.
The fact that the number of fine arts areas have increased in student enrollment and that enrollment is projected to stay at the same levels” is why the expansion is necessary, Mansfield said.

When walking through M building, students in orchestra, band and theater alike can be seen practicing in the hallways due to the lack of space.

“In theatre lobby and M building, it’s clear that there are simply too many kids in one space to function effectively,” junior Ava Jones said. “The theatre, choir, and band kids all have to compete with each other for space and not only is it unsafe, but it’s also unfair. The sports teams all get their own separate fields and practice spaces and the fine arts program deserves the exact same thing.”

With the expansion, the new music space will have new practice rooms, storage, moveable risers and more; and the Mall Auditorium will have a new performing space, dressing rooms, and prop areas.
These additions will not only benefit fine arts students, but the student body as a whole, according to Board President and Spokesperson Steve Anderson.

“The additional space will be used for more than just classes, rehearsals and performances. The many award nights, special events and assemblies that we host throughout the year, in addition to future programming and event ideas, will now have a home, as well,” Anderson said.

The cost of construction of the project “unexpectedly increased” because there have been changes both in U.S. and world markets. In addition, site based construction adjustments were made.

Currently, the plans for the expansion aren’t very certain and depend on the new bids.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the revisions look like when they come back and also see that the Board of Education supports the recommendations,” Mansfield said. “We also need to make sure the money is still available to make an appropriate decision about whether we’re still able to support any expansion.”

If built, the expansion would take about one and a half years, Director of Operations and Maintenance Tom Wagner said. Wagner works with the architects to make sure the plans that are drawn up for the project are what the school wants.

Construction of the fine arts addition would take place during the school year, and according to Wagner, the day to day operations of the school won’t be impacted other than noise and entering and exiting the building.

In addition, there are a number of projects that will be built over the next few years as a part of the strategic building plan.

These projects include: additions to applied academic areas and science areas, replacement to the original windows in North building and a new North building elevator.

Many fine arts students hope ultimately the addition is built.

“I think the music department and other things in general are underappreciated so I feel like getting the expansion will give us the recognition that we deserve,” Viking Choir President and senior Maeve Van Etten said.