School board hears request for new performance arts center
Monday night’s Cameron School Board meeting was standing room only with dozens of parents requesting the district construct a new performing arts center.
Representing the parents in attendance, Pam Ice read a letter to members of the school board with numerous concerns regarding the current facility, which she said may pose a risk to student safety due to the dilapidation.
“After hearing from students, directors and parents about the logistics it takes to host a concert in Goodrich, we believe there is no time like the present to begin the dialogue of bringing a new performing arts facility to our district,” Ice said. “For many years this concept has been discussed and tossed around. However, up until now, we knew our district had more pressing needs for classroom space. Recently the leadership and our school board addressed this need of our community and we now have a Veterans Middle School that represents our passion for education. We appreciate and recognize Goodrich in recent years while our other facilities were being addressed. Now, with 50 percent of our students grades six through 12 being involved in the performing arts program on a regular basis, we believe it’s time to address the need for a new performing arts facility for our students, teachers and community.”
With the Goodrich Building nearing its 90th birthday, Ice said the it has outlived its original purpose for serving as a gym/lecture space and may no longer be safe for students. Ice added the new facility would not only provide a location fitting the needs of Cameron students, it may also spur organizers to relocate regional events to Cameron.
“While we have gone to the gym for numerous events in the past, a gym environment is more conducive to cheering and rallying at sporting events. When engaging students for fine arts and educational purposes, a fine arts settling conveys a more focused atmosphere for learning and listening,” Ice said. “… Goodrich is no longer functional, safe and is not accessible on a daily basis during school week. The years of use have led to leaking roofs, doors, broken seats, outdated curtains, a blown-out sound system, inadequate electrical service and a host of other cosmetic issues. Furthermore, there are numerous concerns in air quality and outdated handicap accessibility.”
During a recent meeting requesting pubic input for a five-year investment plan by the Mo-Kan Regional Council’s grant program, officials representing cities surrounding Cameron requested bringing an expo center to Cameron with the closest facilities for large public gatherings being in Kansas City and St. Joseph. Cameron Superintendent Matt Robinson said the district is examining the idea of a new facility, but added its purpose to may not be entirely for the performing arts.
“We have started a committee that is not going to be just for performing arts, but it is going to be looking at facilities overall,” Robinson said. “We’re trying to develop a 10-year plan so we can properly manage our money for the next 10 years. I assume this is going to come up on our plan sometime … This takes money. We have about $5 million we can do with no tax increase. That’s where we’re at currently.”
Robinson said he hopes to have a 10-year plan to present in November, basing it on input from teachers, administrators and the public. He added, regardless of how much the school has to invest in the project, it would first have to be approved via election.