CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage School District voters have rejected a proposal that would have allowed the district to borrow $18 million to build a new performing arts center on the Carthage High School campus.
The vote was 2,474 to 2,238, with 52.5% voting in favor of the bond issue. The measure needed a majority vote of 57.1% to pass.
A vote for the proposal would have extended the district’s 83-cent debt service tax for two years, from 2040 to 2042, to allow the district to repay bonds and build a center that includes the new auditorium and meeting rooms. enlarged classrooms for the vocal music, orchestral and theater departments.
This, in turn, would have created more space at Carthage High School by allowing the district to turn the oversized spaces currently used by these programs into classrooms.
The district held two information meetings, one on August 25 and one on June 28, to spread the word and answer questions about the bond issue.
Carthage Superintendent Mark Baker told voters at those meetings that the current auditorium is about 40 years old and no longer meets the needs of the high school students who use it.
Baker said the new auditorium would have had 1,250 seats compared to 800 in the current auditorium, but the new classrooms were what differentiated the performing arts center from just an auditorium.
“An auditorium is a room where the event takes place,” Baker said. “A performing arts center takes everything into consideration, your classrooms, your workshops, all rolled into one. You have the auditorium and you have everything that goes into the auditorium, it’s a performing arts center. It’s more than just a room.
Separate classrooms and storage areas for orchestra, choir and theater programs will be constructed at the rear of the auditorium, giving each class direct access to the auditorium stage.
He said a performing arts center, located in the heart of the 80-acre campus, has been part of plans to build the land since they were drawn up in 2006. It’s one of the last two missing elements of that overall plan. from campus, the other being a baseball diamond on the northeast corner of the lot.
Baker had said the district would raise between $2 million and $4 million in private donations to complete the installation, which he said would likely cost between $20 million and $22 million.
The first donation was announced in 2020 when the family of John O. (Pat) and Carolyn Phelps said they would donate $750,000 to the project in exchange for the facility’s naming rights.