Arts center advisory council forms in PdC district

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By Correne Martin

An official advisory committee for the Prairie du Chien School District’s new arts center has formed and, last week, was fully recognized by the board of education at its Nov. 13 meeting. This council is tasked with creating a vision of how the arts center—the grandiose facility on the front end of Prairie du Chien High School—will function as part of the community.

“A survey will be coming back out to the public,” Board President Christine Panka said. “What we heard during the referendum is [residents] wanted this facility utilized to the max for the community, in addition to what the school wants to do.”

So the intention of the committee is to determine the best functionality possible.

The arts center advisory committee consists of Duane Rogers, Lori Bekkum, Terri Connell, Joyce Czajkowski and Panka. The committee’s formation resulted from conversations the board had with Arts Wisconsin and Arts Midwest, which the board contracts with currently for educational and interactive arts programming.

Panka said the survey will likely roll out via the district’s social media and local media outlets.

“We want this to really be reflective of what people want. We really want a successful space,” Panka stated.

She shared an example of one Wisconsin school district that has a great partnership with its community in terms of a school-owned arts center and gallery that’s operated by the community.

“It’s a really cool cross-pollination, a lot of willingness for collaboration,” Panka explained. If Prairie du Chien’s set-up were similar, it could allow for the district to pursue funding/grants for students while also enabling grants from the community aspect as well.

“In my opinion, this is historic. We’re at a great point in our community’s history,” she added. “We’re just sincerely hoping people will hop on board with this. If anybody else wishes to come forward and help with [the arts center planning], we would welcome that.”

In addition to the advisory committee, the board of education approved joining the Wisconsin Presenters Network. For just $50 per year, a membership allows the district to get technical support and block talent/fill schedules for the theater. It also provides statewide communication promotion of talent, activities and availability.

There is a menu of sponsorship opportunities available for anyone interested in helping the district achieve unique enhancements, not referendum-approved yet greatly desired, for the arts center. Supporters and those with ideas are encouraged to contact a board member.

Other business
The board also discussed and approved a contract to replace the Bluff View School roof, which was damaged in the July straight-line winds that hit Prairie du Chien.

According to District Administrator Bob Smudde, aside from a $10,000 deductible, the district’s insurance covered $901,250 in storm damage-related repairs/replacements. In addition to the roof, which is a large chunk of that bill, the solar array near the high school had $35,000 in damages, a fire alarm system accounted for $10,000, baseball fencing had $8,700 in damages and signage on the track made up $3,800.

“The damages were about $80,000, plus the Bluff View roof,” Smudde said, “so essentially, we’re getting nearly $1 million in upgrades for only $10,000. That’s not bad.”

The one aspect of this situation the board of education is keeping an eye on is going to be the district’s insurance rate and whether it may increase due to these incidences of damage. Smudde doesn’t expect it to increase much if that’s the case.

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