PAC to be completed by spring

ARLINGTON Its the value of the performing arts for students as well as for the community that inspired the Arlington School Board to decide at its regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday, Oct. 9, to go forward with the completion of the Arlington High Schools performing arts center, even though the cost is more than $400,000 higher than expected. This final, third stage, includes all the finishing details that make the theater operational pulleys, lights, curtain, sound system, acoustics, seats and carpet.
The bids came in at $1,323,417 million for the third phase, rather than the $800,000 - $900,000 anticipated, said Superintendent Linda Byrnes.
Everyday it gets more expensive, Byrnes added. Its the nature of our free-market system, and this building construction boom weve been engulfed in for several years.
School board president Kay Duskin has been actively involved with Arts Alive since it was formed as the nonprofit Arlington Education Foundation, to help complete the PAC. She was on the board when the directors made the decision to pull the performing arts center off the $60 million bond proposal.
Since then, Duskin has worked with the group of about 20-30 members who have met weekly over the past three years to raise $2.5 million to help complete the PAC.
The board did some creative budgeting to find the money, Duskin said. We want to get this project done so it can serve the students and the community.
Byrnes said the district does not expect the Arts Alive group to raise extra money.
They are an amazing group of volunteers who have accomplished a lot. We dont expect them to raise their goal. It wouldnt be fair, Byrnes said.
The school district launched the project using timber resources to build phase one, the outer shell, for approximately $2.5 million in 2003, the year the high school opened.
Earlier this year, the finishing of the interior was accomplished in phase two for about $2.2 million.
In order to proceed with the completion this fall, the school board identified a variety of sources of funds to pay the $1,323,417 price tag, some of which will be replaced as more PAC funds come in.
The board had to know where the money would come from before going forward, Byrnes said.
Sources for the completion include a commitment from the city of Arlington for $500,000
We can count on $125,000 from the city in 2007 and 2008, Byrnes said. There is an anonymous donor who has committed $225,000 for the sound system. The McKinley family donated $200,000 already with a promise to present the final $100,000
The AEF (Arts Alive) has presented a grant proposal to the Allen Foundation requesting a completion grant of $100,000 to help finish the PAC and they are waiting to hear their response.
There are some interest monies available, but we are not spending one dime of the $60 million bond that paid for four new schools, Byrnes said.
We were planning to paint the A Building as part of the Haller project, and that will be postponed, she said. And there is some money stashed away for the overpass on Highway 9 that will not be used until more federal monies are received, so well borrow from that fund.
The district will raise $300,000 by selling surplus property around the former district maintenance shed on Presidents Elementary School campus that will be sold for development.
It just makes sense for us to sell off the land that we have no use for, Byrnes said.
The Arts Alive fund contains $400,000 balance and they are committed to raising $350,000 more to meet their goal. They raised the money with contributions from public and private grants, corporate and personal donations and an assortment of fundraisers through the years, including a series of concerts in the old high school auditorium, seat sales and personalize pavers, which are already installed around the front of the PAC.
They will be focusing on the corporate donor wall, Byrnes said that March 1, 2007 will be the absolute cut-off off for businesses to pay a minimum of $5,000 to be included on a glass wall memorial designed by Arlington artist Kurt McVay.
It will be very affordable advertising for the next hundred years or so, Byrnes said.
It was assistant superintendent Warren Hopkins who called Razz Construction Tuesday morning after the board meeting to hire them for the job. Razz was the lowest bidder of three.
We offered them the whole package, except seats and carpet, which will be purchased through KCDA, Hopkins said.
The King County Directors Associations purchasing co-op negotiates good prices on big-ticket items like portables, cars and buses as well as pencils, making those prices available to all school districts in the state. The district will use that resource for seats and carpet. Hopkins said the seats will be very similar to the model that has been on display. We want to make wisest use of our resources, he said.
We also pulled out the sound board line item so that [music teachers] Lyle Forde and John Grabowski can pick the best one for their purposes,
Arts Alive members were very excited at their regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, Oct. 9.
I have children in schools who will benefit greatly from this facility, said Anita McKinley, an enthusiastic supporter of the theater project. And I believe it will be good for the community as well.
Another member of Arts Alive since day one, Yolanda Larsen raised eight children who attended schools in the Arlington School District (one is now U.S. Representative Rick Larsen), and she believes that the performing arts are very important for the balanced development of youth.
Four of my kids were involved in theater. I believe it gave them a lot of selfconfidence. I also think the theater will be really good for this community.
Member George Boulton sees the decision as a vote of confidence for Arts Alive.
We need to get this done so that the theater can start earning its keep, Boulton said. This community resource will eventually contribute back to school coffers. And he is looking forward to delivering the grand piano which he donated and has been storing for three years.

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