At its June 20 meeting, the board of trustees approved the schematic design plans for modernizing both Graham and Crittenden middle schools. With a total budget of $50 million across both schools, the plans call for modernizing classrooms, constructing a new library at Graham, modernizing Crittenden's library, putting in a new track at Crittenden and erecting two new, 350-seat auditoriums at both of the campuses.
The trustees discussed the plans at length. Trustee Steve Nelson was generally supportive of the designs, but he argued that the $6.5 million price tag for each new auditorium was too much and advocated to cut the price down to $2.5 million.
"I think a lot of the things they are doing are very nice," Nelson told the Voice. "But this is just way too big a room, in my opinion."
Nelson said that he wasn't worried just about the price tag for the buildings. He said he was also concerned that they would could create parking issues and that they would require an additional full-time employee, known as a "theater technician" just to operate them and keep them in running order.
The architects of the projects — DLM Architects and Artik Art & Architecture — were skeptical that they could build a suitable auditorium at that price, however, and in the end the plans were passed as presented.
"These are not huge auditoriums," Superintendent Craig Goldman said. The auditorium will be well used for school and community events, he said.
"Based upon the size of the auditorium, our experts tell us that this is the price tag. We've believed all along that these were critical components of the modernization plans. We're grateful that the majority of the board has supported those projects," he said.
Additionally, Goldman noted, the district held many community meetings and consulted with parents, teachers and students about the project and that the outlined plan is "consistent with what our community wants."
Of all the projects outlined, the modernization of classrooms is expected to be finished first — in the summer of 2014. After that, the library modernization at Graham is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2014, and the new library at Crittenden slated to wrap up in winter 2014.
The new sports center at Crittenden is on track to be finished in 2015 and the new auditoriums aren't scheduled to be completed until well into 2016.