Home Breaking News State rejects district’s request for fine arts center funding

State rejects district’s request for fine arts center funding


By John R. Schirmer

News-Leader staff

The Nashville School District’s application to construct a fine arts center using state partnership funds has been rejected, Superintendent Doug Graham told the school board Monday night.

The state said student population “is not growing to the point of justifying a new auditorium,” Graham said.

The district asked for partnership money to construct a $10-12 million facility which included an auditorium, classrooms, band room and choir room.

Under the partnership program, the state usually provides about 60 percent of the funding for the project, with the remaining 40 percent coming from the district.

Graham said the Sixth Street Auditorium, which dates back to about 1957, “is old and is a money pit. It’s not a good business decision to keep using it. We need a fine arts center on the high school campus.”

In response to a question, Graham said nobody from the state facilities division came to Nashville to inspect the old auditorium before the agency rejected the district’s application.

“I’m considering an appeal. I want to make our case for a new facility face to face. You can’t make a case for the old one,” Graham said.

“We can make a strong case” for the new building, according to Graham. The 1957 auditorium “has run its course. It’s off campus. We have to spend money just 

to keep it running. We’ve spent $25,000 on a new air conditioning system.”

The state “hasn’t seen how old and worn out it is. Kids in the Nashville School District deserve a better facility,” Graham said.

While the fine arts center application was rejected, the state gave preliminary approval to partnering with the district on a new roof at Nashville Primary School, Graham said. The project will cost between $750,000 and $800,000, with the state paying about 60 percent, according to Graham.

Preliminary approval is the first step in the partnership process, Graham said. He looks for the new roof to gain final approval “if funds are available. I feel good about the roofing project.”

Board members discussed other topics during a 30-minute regular meeting which followed the district’s 80-minute report to the public. Details of the report will be printed in the Sept. 30 News-Leader.

The board approved the district’s budget for 2020-21. The budget includes about $20.6 million in total balance and revenues, with expenditures of about $16.5 million. The projected operating balance on June 30, 2021 is about $4.1 million.

Board members approved a technology purchase of about $320,000 from White River Services and Solutions of Batesville.

The purchase includes 64 Promethean ActivPanel 75” 4K interactive displays for priary and elementary school classrooms.

It also includes 17 Samsung 75” 4K Smart TVs.

Accessories and licenses are also included in the purchase.

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