By TRAVIS MORSE
MT. VERNON — Mt. Vernon Township High School does not have enough money to build the new school as it is currently proposed, so officials are considering eliminating the theater building and the football field from the construction plans.
For the last month or so, district officials have worked to cut costs on the new high school, after construction bids came in at about $6 million over-budget in December. About $3.5 to $4 million in cost reductions have been made to the project so far.
To address the remaining $2 million shortfall, however, two options are now being considered.
One alternative is to cut the theater entirely from the plans and to add an auxiliary gym. This would make the project $523,000 under-budget.
The second option is to just build the shell of the theater building without a finished interior and to eliminate the football field and grandstands. With these alterations, the project would still be about $900,000 over-budget.
As part of this option, though, there was also talk of doing away with the second-floor track planned for the new gymnasium, which would add to the cost savings.
Superintendent Michael Smith stressed that no formal decisions have yet been made regarding cutting the proposed theater.
“That’s an option that’s been put on the table, one of many, but we’ve always considered (the theater) an integral part of the project and still do,” Smith said. “So we’ll see what our options are as more information comes in.”
If the option to build a theater shell were pursued, the district would likely have a fundraising drive to finish the theater’s interior sometime in the future. It would likely cost about $1.8 million to complete the interior.
It’s unclear how these options would affect the $100,000 Schweinfurth Foundation grant to help equip the new theater.