School Board member Bill Zechman had a bright idea.
Zechman asked members of the School Board’s Building and Grounds Committee to consider funding a lighting package to be used to brighten the auditorium at Warren County Middle School.
Zechman said when the WCMS auditorium was renovated in 2004 at a cost of $433,000, stage lighting was not included in the renovation. The 50x29-foot stage is only lit by three 75-watt ceiling lights, he said.
The auditorium did receive new seats, paint, curtains, stage floor and sound system. The auditorium seats 777 people and is the largest auditorium in Warren County.
“With stage lighting, I think we would have a theater venue second to none in this area. It would be one of the largest theaters in any of the surrounding counties,” said Zechman. “I’d like to see us move into a situation where we could accommodate student theater. I also think the auditorium will have a long-term use serving the school and the community.”
The WCMS auditorium is not only used for school purposes, but serves as the primary place Warren County educators have in-services. It is also used by for-profit organizations such as Paula’s Dance Academy, which uses the auditorium to showcase its dance recital each year.
“This system would give the people at the middle school a lot more freedom in negotiating a rental price for the auditorium because the auditorium would be a lot more valuable to whoever wants to use it,” said Zechman.
Zechman informed the board Central Church of Christ is planning to install new lighting in its auditorium. The church is willing to sell 10 light fixtures for half of their original price. There is nothing wrong with the fixtures. Half of the original cost would make the fixtures $135 each. That would make the total for 10 lights $1,350.
Zechman also asked the School Board to invest in a starter kit of lighting that would consist of two kinds of fixtures including energy efficient spotlights, new technology LED lights, and two control boards, one to be used on stage and one in the control booth. The LED lights could be pre-programmed or an automatic cycle of changing red, green and blue colors.
Zechman received a quote from Interstate Lighting Supply for a little less than $10,000 for a starter kit that would allow for future addition of lights. He proposed spending up to $15,000 on new lighting and lights from Central. The exact price and company to purchase lighting from would have to be bid out.
Kevin Dunlap, a teacher at WCMS and Interact Club sponsor, said, “You’re right. The lighting is lacking on the stage. We could use the lighting during Interact performances. It would be nice. Really nice.”
Dr. Lynn England, who has been involved in theater for 40 years told the board members, “There’s been a lot of scientific research done on students who do theater and students who perform in the band and it comes out the same every time. Students involved in the performing arts perform better academically. They perform better socially. In theater, they have to memorize their parts, so they learn how to study.”
School Board chairman Scott Holmes said the lighting project sounds good, but not at a time when the school system had to reduce its faculty.
“We got rid of teachers this year. I’m not spending $15,00 on lighting,” said Holmes. “We’ve got jobs disappearing and for me to vote to spend $15,000 on lighting I think would be irresponsible. I totally believe in the project and have seen good things come from drama. But, to think about that now while we are trying to fund teaching positions, I don’t think is a good idea.”
With the teaching positions in mind, Zechman’s proposal did not pass. Holmes, Linda Blair and Bob Young voted against it. Zechman and Michael Adamson voted for it. Jeff Lee was absent.