Chamberlain board seeks approval of $5.28 million bond issueCHAMBERLAIN — Residents of the Chamberlain School District will vote in November whether to approve a $5.28 million bond issue to help fund a new fine arts and events center.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
CHAMBERLAIN — Residents of the Chamberlain School District will vote in November whether to approve a $5.28 million bond issue to help fund a new fine arts and events center.
A once joint project between the cities of Chamberlain and Oacoma and the Chamberlain School District, it’s now solely a project of the district. The proposed 62,000-square-foot center has been in the works for about three years with a few roadblocks, including cuts to state education funding in recent years, said Superintendent Debra Johnson.
“This is very exciting for the school and the community,” she said. “This could really add a lot to what we have to offer.”
Johnson estimates construction could begin in the summer of 2013.
When the district had to cut its budget last year, the school board decided to place the fine arts and events center on the back burner, she said. At that time, the cities of Chamberlain and Oacoma decided to move forward with other projects and have not committed any funds to the center. But the district keeps the cities informed of developments, Johnson said. When the board brought the project back as just a fine arts center, people from the community requested the full fine arts and events center. Earlier this month, the district presented a financial plan to pay for the estimated $13.18 million project.
The biggest outside boost to the project came recently in the form of a $1.35 million grant from the Barger Foundation. The school has $5 million in savings and certificates, plus $550,000 in Impact Aid and possibly another $1 million in outside funding.
The $5.28 million bond issue was sent to a vote of the people by the school board, which voted 7-0 last month to hold the election. The center would include a gymnasium with seating for 2,500, a wrestling/multi-purpose room, a weight and fitness room, a 500-seat auditorium for fine arts and concessions, along with a large bathroom area and conference, dressing, makeup and locker rooms.
The center would be attached to the west side of the Chamberlain High School on the bluffs above the city.
The concourse lobby, which would double as a portion of a walking path, would connect with a hallway leading into the school.
The district currently uses the National Guard armory in the heart of the city and the Oacoma Community Center as gymnasiums for activities. Johnson said the district would continue to use those facilities in addition to the new gymnasium in the center.
“We’ll be able to do different or more things than we have in the past because we have extra facilities,” she said.
“It’ll be the same for the cities, because they can take on extra events.”
The district’s drama department would also use the new auditorium, and there is a possibility of reviving a community theater.
An extra gymnasium would allow the district to host more regional events for sports and other competitions, Johnson said. Although the venue may not be big enough to host state events, Johnson said smaller events are possible.
The district plans to hold public and informational meetings with small groups starting with a public meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 in the multi-purpose room at Chamberlain High School. Johnson said officials are working to get explanatory materials published to present to groups. She and other members of a steering committee plan to attend as many civic meetings as possible in Chamberlain and Oacoma, along with visiting rural areas in the district.
“We’ll go to any group that would like to have us,” she said.