PIEDMONT -- After much deliberation, the school board decided to move ahead with allocating $360,000 for design development to take the next step for Alan Harvey Theater renovations.
While board members acknowledged the need for essential upgrades to the theater at Piedmont High School, they were divided on committing too much money too soon without "money in the bank" from community pledges.
Initial theater designer Mark Becker, whose ideas were incorporated into a conceptual design by architects Quattrocchi Kwok, told the board he believed $500,000 will be raised by private donations to support the project. He added that fundraising efforts are well under way.
Board president Rick Raushenbush dissented on the 4-1 vote at the Nov. 13 meeting to approve spending the $360,000 now.
"I would want to see (private) money in the bank (before) we do design documents," Raushenbush said.
The school board on Oct. 23 decided to put a measure on a June 3 ballot asking voters if they would approve a $14.5 million to $15 million bond to renovate the theater. That amount includes construction drawings, permits, seating, accessibility improvements, lighting and sound, contingencies, project management, fixtures, furniture and relocation of classes and plays for one year.
The board's questions include: whether donors will come through with $500,000 to backfill expenses; what it will do if the bond measure fails; and what it will do if project construction is delayed, leading to increased costs.
Superintendent Connie Hubbard confirmed that the Piedmont school district does have the bonding capacity to float a bond of the proposed size. If the project proceeds on the "fast track," it could be completed by fall 2015. Work would begin next June.
The board earlier committed $500,000 of district modernization money toward the project. If the bond measure fails, the $500,000 would be used for seat and HVAC replacement only. The board does not want to deplete all the remaining $1.2 million it has in modernization money.
The school board tackled another sticky issue with the school instructional calendars, a balancing act between teachers, students and parents, many of whom always want school to start after Labor Day.
Association of Piedmont Teachers President Gabrielle Kashani said teachers generally supported the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school calendars. Several high school students spoke asking that finals take place before winter break.
The board approved the 2014-15 calendar but tabled the 2015-16 calendar that teachers had approved, asking to revisit it in January.
"There is not a lot of wiggle room. There was lots of discussion. This is a controversial issue," Kashani said.
School will begin Aug. 20, 2014, with three-day weekends almost every month. There are no unpaid furlough days, and the student year is restored to 180 instructional days.
School will be closed for Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 24-28, 2014. Winter break will be from Dec. 22, 2014 to Jan. 2, 2015. Spring break will be April 6-10, 2015. The last day of school will be June 11, 2015.