New field house at PdC High School

 

New auditorium, field house at PdC High School being considered

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Meetings were held at City Hall and at Prairie du Chien High School Wednesday night to get public input regarding a possible expansion project at  the high school. 

The School District has formed an exploratory committee to examine the feasibility of various projects in order to maintain all of the existing school buildings and grounds so that they can be cost efficient, functional, and safe for many years to come. 

The major pieces being proposed include a 1,500-seat auditorium and a nearly 60,000-square-foot field house/gymnasium. An upgraded agriculture and biological science classroom/laboratory with a new green house are also being proposed.

Other high school upgrades include an updated and enlarged art room, kitchen updates, and air conditioning in all classrooms. B.A. Kennedy updates include a library makeover, air conditioning in all classrooms, and the replacement of lunchroom tables. Bluff View upgrades include a Project Lead the Way lab/hands-on shop and air conditioning in all classrooms. 

Superintendent Drew Johnson said the whole project could be done for $14 million to $16 million. He said such a project would not raise the current tax rate of $10.66 because the debt on Bluff View will be paid off in three years. 

Now is the time to start planning for a project said Johnson and School Board President Joe Atkins because it will be about three years before such a project would be completed if a referendum for the project were to pass.

 Johnson said the project is just in the concept stage and no timeline has been set. The school district will continue to seek public input, he said. 

“We’re enthusiastic but realistic,” said Johnson, who, along with Atkins, stressed that a new fieldhouse would be complementary, and not competitive, with programs at Hoffman Hall. 

Atkins said the auditorium could be used not only for school concerts and plays, but also for concerts by professional musicians and other professional productions. He noted that the field house could be used by the general public for various activities such as tennis, archery or whatever the public might want. The field house would also allow Prairie du Chien to host a wide variety of events that would attract many visitors who would spend their money in Prairie du Chien. Atkins said some possibilities could include sectional wrestling meets, basketball tournaments, gymnastics meets, cheerleader and dance competitions, RV and camper shows, golf shows, monster truck rallies, the Bucks of Crawford County, or any other events that the public would like to see.

Architectural renderings by HSR Associates, Inc. of La Crosse show gym space and a 200-meter track inside the field house. Balcony seating is also being discussed.

As far as increased costs to operate such additions, Johnson said the district could easily absorb such costs.  

Johnson and Atkins stressed that the project is in the conceptual design stage and they very much want the public to generate ideas regarding what the project could entail and suggestions about feasibility.

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