Mid-Prairie board gets serious about auditorium

By Cheryl Allen
Posted 3/29/24


The Mid-Prairie school board’s meeting March 25 consisted primarily of a work session, much of which was a discussion regarding building an auditorium at the high school; however, two …

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Mid-Prairie board gets serious about auditorium



The Mid-Prairie school board’s meeting March 25 consisted primarily of a work session, much of which was a discussion regarding building an auditorium at the high school; however, two important items of business were taken care of first: a public hearing for the proposed tax levy and approval of the sale of GO bonds.

During the public hearing, a member of the public asked why “taxes are going up when they’re supposed to be going down.”

Business Manager Jeff Swartzentruber explained, “Mid-Prairie is set up this year so that your property taxes would go down. Last year, the millage rate was $13.22 per $1,000; this year what we proposed was $13.18 per $1,000. We would have gone lower, but the state legislature has not done their job. They have not set SSA. So it’s hard for us to know what the property taxes will be. We can lower them, but we cannot raise them above what we published.”

No other comments were made during the public hearing.

The board passed a resolution approving the sale of $8.7 million in GO bonds before moving into their work session.

Auditorium Discussion

At their Feb. 25 meeting, Marnie Schrader, representing the Fine Arts Boosters, asked the board “to make a commitment to a community auditorium,” including a financial commitment, as that would allow the boosters to begin serious fundraising efforts. The board hoped to come up with an amount they could promise would be earmarked for an auditorium Monday night, but that did not occur.

Board members considered a plan and cost estimate provided by Tad Morrow of Carl A. Nelson & Company, which included an addition to the high school and reconfiguration of existing space to create a 499-seat auditorium, as well as classroom spaces and parking. The price tag on the complete package was about $23 million.

Uncertain of how much grant money might be procured, as well as how much voters might be willing to back in a future bond proposal – and not wanting a plan that was contingent on either of these things -- board members were hesitant to make a specific commitment, yet didn’t want to keep delaying action.

“It just keeps getting more expensive,” Superintendent Brian Stone said. At the same time, “There’s a lot of dominos to this.”

“We have to do things differently than we have in the past,” board President Jake Snider said. “I think it takes an open mind and a new approach.”

The board decided to solicit more information from Morrow, feedback from the facilities committee, and involvement by OPN before providing a dollar amount they would commit to for the auditorium project, which they hope to do by May.

Other Topics

The board also discussed the use of Let’s Go Bound, a “one-stop shop” scheduling system for coaches, fans, and administrators when it comes to sports and activities. The River Valley Conference has decided to switch from RSchool to this system, which would require online ticketing for events and slightly higher single-ticket pricing. Activities Director Pete Cavanagh explained the system’s advantages to the board; the district plans to fully adopt it by August.

Grade Alike Attendance Centers were also on the work session’s agenda. Conditions have changed since grades were divided between East and West Elementary schools in 2017, and now the district is revisiting how that distribution might be improved.

Keeping preschool, kindergarten, and first grade together at West, and grouping second, third, and fourth grades together at East, is under consideration.

Next Meeting

The Mid-Prairie school board will next meet for a business meeting on Monday, April 8 at 6:15 p.m. at the Central Office Community Room.

Mid-Prairie school board, Wellman, Iowa, auditorium, attendance centers, proposed tax levy, GO bond sale