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School Board advances Grand Forks high school theater project

Red River and Central high schools are another step closer to getting new and renovated theater facilities with Monday night's Grand Forks School Board vote to accept the architects drawings for the plans and move on to the next design phase of t...

Red River performance hall rendering
An architects rendering depicts the proposed courtyard porch on the performance hall addition of Grand Forks Red River High School. For more images, including those proposed for the Central High School addition, go to GrandForksHerald.com.

Red River and Central high schools are another step closer to getting new and renovated theater facilities with Monday night's Grand Forks School Board vote to accept the architects drawings for the plans and move on to the next design phase of the project.

But some school officials had concerns that the plans for a new theater addition at Red River and expanded theater at Central were a step in the right direction, but may have been lacking in the basics.

They wondered if the designs focused enough on the basics, such as adequate restroom facilities and rooms for costuming and make-up.

The board moved ahead with the plan, with an estimated price tag of $10.5 million, with the understanding that the drawings would be tweaked. They did not commit any money to building, but if plans continue on course, the school district could let in bids for the project in December or January and construction could begin in the spring.

Ted Roseboom of Perkins + Will in Minneapolis presented the schematic designs to the board. Gary Benson of ICS discussed costs and how they compared to the school districts music and theater arts needs assessment. JLG Architects and EAPC Architects of Grand Forks also are working on the project.


Central High School's theater remodel had an original estimated cost of $2.5 million but the estimated cost after the schematic design increased to $2.7 million.

Central's schematic drawings (which can be seen online at GrandForksHerald.com) showed the existing stage converted to set building area with a new stage moved forward. Some floor seating would be eliminated, but the old balcony would be reopened to make up for it.

Red River would get a 700-plus theater addition on the south side of the building. It would have its own entrance plaza off Knudsvig Drive, but would be attached to the existing building at the music department. It would include a new orchestra room, equipment room, storage, set design area and stage. The original estimated cost, $8.1 million, has increased to $8.7 million.

If plans are on schedule, the Summer Performing Arts program would be able to use the new space in 2012.

"To think of where this can take us, I have a hard time putting it into words," Dean Opp, drama instructor and Red River High School and director of SPA, told the board.

Opp said he and other people who would be using the space wanted an opportunity to work on details of the building. Opp said he and Roseboom disagreed on the design plans for make-up, costume and bathroom facilities for students in the new theater. Board member Vicki Ericson said one of the issues in seeking more space was to enlarge those behind-the-scenes and teaching areas for students.

In other business, the School Board:

- Re-elected Dr. Eric Lunn president and Linda Jenkins vice president at its annual reorganizational meeting. Both their terms expire in 2012, as do the terms of Vicki Ericson and Roger Pohlman. Board members whose terms expire in 2014 are Rebecca Grandstrand, Tim Lamb, Bill Palmiscno, Cynthia Shabb and Mike St. Onge.


- Granted a request by board member Tim Lamb to ask the city attorney whether Lunn violated open meeting laws when he invited Mike St. Onge and two new board members, Grandstrand and Shabb to lunch. Lunn said the lunch was social, a means to welcome the new board members and fill them in on how meetings are conducted. Lunn said no school business was discussed.

- Named Richard W. Olson the school district's attorney to replace Patrick W. Fisher, who is retiring. Both attorneys are with Fisher, Olson & Juntunen LTD of Grand Forks.

- Hired new teachers: Melissa Buchhop, Century Elementary School; Joshua Cichy, Lake Agassiz Elementary School; George DuBois, Central and Red River high schools; Ashley Gador, Lake Agassiz Elementary School; Jerome Gunderson, Central High School; Sheyna Jensne, Century Elementary School; Alexis Kraft, Headstart, Grafton; Lindsey Marquart, Kelly Elementary School; Holly Messelt, Kelly Elementary School; Karina Rude, Valley Middle School; Emily Thompson, Red River High School.

- Were told there would be a 3.9 percent increase in school district employee contributions to health insurance this year.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

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