What Will Mehlville's New Auditorium Look Like?
At Wednesday's meeting, Superintendent Eric Knost showed the board drawings of the new auditorium.
The Mehlville School District’s first auditorium now has a face as Superintendent Eric Knost presented the school board with the most recent design drawings at Wednesday’s board meeting.
Knost, who showed excitement as he presented the drawings, said work was progressing and the auditorium should still cost within the $6 million price cap.
He said, however, that engineers have found a large sewer line running underneath the grounds where the auditorium will go.
Construction will reroute that sewer, which will cost additional funds, but total costs still won't top $6 million, the superintendent said.
The building has 545 seats—20 more than originally planned—and a main lobby Knost said could feature a district art gallery.
“This still could change if we adjust for budget reasons, the seats could fluctuate, the space could fluctuate a little bit, but this has all the components that our folks felt necessary for an appropriate auditorium,” Knost said.
A committee of performing arts teachers toured other facilities and developed a list of necessary items for the new auditorium.
The drawings come days after two candidates criticized the board for moving forward with the auditorium.
Kathleen Eardley and Fred Padberg, two candidates running for the school board in April, said now was not the time to build an auditorium at a candidate forum Monday at Oakville High School.
“The auditorium, while it’s a good thing for the district and the money is there, it was turned down by the taxpayers (through Proposition C)… it needed to have gone back to the voters. They’re going to foot the bill one way or another,” Eardley said.
At Wednesday's meeting, board members Rich Franz and Mark Stoner made a point to reiterate their support for the auditorium.
“Prop C and this auditorium plan and the facilities plan that our superintendent came up with as part of that, are two separate issues; they’re not related. And the vote against Prop C, I think we would all agree at this point, was the opinion of the community that it was too much money at that time,” Franz said. “This has nothing to do with that. This auditorium is something that this school district has thought about for years and years and years and it’s long overdue.”
Stoner said going back to the voters would have cost additional money.
“The voters vote us into this office to be good stewards with the money; that’s what we were doing.,” he said.
Superintendent Eric Knost said that a requirement of purchasing the Certificates of Participation to fund the auditorium was that the money saved had to be used for capital or one-time expenses. The district could not put that money toward teacher salaries or recurring expenses.
“There’s never been an interest in the district holding the taxpayers’ money and building up very large reserves. That’s one of the criticisms I’ve heard loud and clear… when you hold reserves and say to the community, ‘We need additional money from you,’ they don’t feel that that makes a lot of sense,” Knost said. “That was really considered in how this plan was proposed… we’re not damaging the reserves significantly.”