Correspondent

PIEDMONT -- The train is on track to proceed with a bond measure of about $14.5 million to renovate Alan Harvey Theater.

The school board decided Oct. 23 to support the measure that would appear on a June 3 ballot. It requires 55 percent voter approval to pass. The bond would be paid off in 13 years.

The board had a lengthy discussion on all the moving parts to the proposal that would require sizable private donations of $500,000 or more. Speaker Mary Ireland assured the board that fundraising efforts would kick into high gear "once we know what we need to do. We are getting positive responses."

Beach Elementary School father Jonathan Davis volunteered to lead the campaign for the measure, and the board affirmed his offer.

"The theater is the civic hub of the community," Davis said. "I will bring all effort and enthusiasm to the campaign."

Assistant Superintendent Randy Booker presented several options for the theater project, including a "fast track" that most of the board supports. The theater, if all goes as planned and the proposition is approved, would be ready for occupancy in fall 2015. Other sites would be used for drama classes and high school productions during construction.

Superintendent Connie Hubbard explained that the $14.5 million price tag includes much more than "hammer and nails." It includes fixtures, furniture, relocation of classes and plays for one year, a contingency fund, lighting and sound improvements.


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When the theater was evaluated for the seismic safety projects at all the schools, it was determined that Alan Harvey Theater was not a collapse hazard during an earthquake, that the building was structurally sound, Booker said. "This would be a modernization, not a tear-down project," he said.

The aging theater is sorely in need of upgrades, repairs and modernization, the speakers and the board agreed.

The board earlier committed $500,000 of district modernization money toward the project. It is hoped that the bulk of fundraising would be accomplished by year's end, so that next steps can be taken.

If the bond measure fails, the $500,000 of district money could be used for seat and HVAC replacement only.

The board acknowledged the timing of the plan is tricky. How much could be done now before the bond election to keep the plan moving and not risk losing any money on consulting costs?

"This is not an easy decision at all," board President Rick Raushenbush said. "I don't feel real comfortable about it. Let's see if we can get the cost down (for the architectural design firm)."

Hubbard will come back to the board at its Nov. 13 meeting with project phases, more detailed costs and draft ballot language.

In other business, the public is encouraged to comment on the proposed collective bargaining agreements upcoming for teachers.

Details can be found at www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/human-resources.