Performing Arts Building Proposed for Bolton Central School
By Anthony F. Hall
Thursday, March 2, 2017
An $8.8 million performance space that could serve an entire community will be constructed at the Bolton Central School if a referendum passes on March 8.
The new 17,000 sq ft CAMP (an acronym for Community, Arts, Music, Performance), a semi-detached, 250 seat auditorium that would be accessible even when school is not in session, was introduced to the public at a meeting on January 12.
According to the school’s business manager, $7 million would be raised from taxpayers. Annual taxes would rise by $18 per $100,000 of assessed value for the duration of the 22 year bond.
“We’re a better community with Bolton Central School; what improves the school will improve the community. If a performing arts center is open to the community and private sector groups, all the better,” said town Supervisor Ron Conover. “I hope the residents give the proposal the thought it deserves.”
The proposition was not arrived at lightly, Superintendent Michael Graney told the residents attending the public meeting in January.
“The School Board’s Facility’s Committee has spent a busy three years focusing on meeting the requirements of the New York State Department of Education, on the needs of our academic programs and on strenthening our collaboration with the community,” said Graney.
An auditorium will advance the school’s educational and civic goals, Graney said.
New and improved facilities will not only serve the numbers of students expected to matriculate at Bolton Central School through the forseeable future but attract additional students, said Graney.
Graney said the school’s population is expected to stabilize at slightly less than 200 students, a sustainable number.
Tenee Rehm Casaccio, the Glens Falls architect who is an alumna of Bolton Central School, was asked to assess the school’s facilities in light of its needs and strategic goals. The semi-detached auditorium was among her recommendations.
Adressing the January 12 public meeting, Casaccio said the lack of suitable facilities is among the obstacles preventing the school from pursuing its objectives, among them, an arts curriculum equal in strength to its science, technology, engineering and math program.
More than 80% of Bolton’s students participate in music programs without adequate facilities, Casaccio said.
By moving rooms now used for music instruction to the new auditorium, more space would also become available for technology programs, said Casaccio.
Moreover, the gymnasium does not lend itself to the performing arts, said Casaccio.
As a performing arts space, the gym lacks seating, air conditioning, decent acoustics, a full-sized stage and back-stage spaces for storage and rehearsals, Casaccio said.
“There’s too many activities for this one room; it’s burdened with too many, often conflicting uses,” said Casaccio.
Deb Gaddy, a retired Physical Education teacher, agreed, stating her classes were often forced to meet elsewhere or wait in corridors because the gymnasium was occupied by students in other programs.
According to school officials, a portion of the costs of the new auditorium would come from the legacy of Fred and Erika Uhl, summer residents who left more than $600,000 for art programs and arts-related scholarships to the school.
Casaccio said representatives of the Sagamore, the Lake George Theater Lab, The Sembrich, the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, the Lake George Association and other organizations have all expressed interest in making use of the new facility.
“It would be a huge asset to to our community,” said Casaccio.
“The school has made good arguments for the educational need for the facility; the fact that it has applications for the town and the private sector is just icing on the cake,” said Ron Conover.
The proposed auditorium is expected to be discussed at the next meeting of the Bolton Central School Board of Education, which will be held in the school library on February 13 at 6:30 pm.
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