Fayette County High School’s fine arts program is getting a big boost with the addition of an auditorium following a unanimous vote at Monday night’s board of education meeting.
Parents, staff, and students have spoken at many meetings asking for help, and they finally got their answer.
“Fayette County High School is the flagship high school of Fayette County and yet we’re the only high school that doesn’t have an auditorium attached to the school,” said Debbie Lute, an FCHS parent. “It’s vitally important for the fine arts department.”
Currently, students trek across the street to the Sams Auditorium at the old Fayette County High School building.
“It takes way from the teachers,” said Tom Illingworth, who has worked at the school for 15 years, noting that it takes students 10-12 minutes to walk to Sams and 10-12 minutes to walk back. “It only gives teachers 30 minutes to teach.”
The auditorium will be built in what is now the senior parking lot area of the school and will connect to the main building via an existing stairwell.
“I wholeheartedly, as a board member, am going to vote yes,” said Board Member Diane Basham. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Staff prepared three options at varying prices, but the choice was clear to Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow.
“I’d like to recommend to the board that we go all all in.”
The guaranteed maximum price for the project, to include all aspects like engineering and architecture, comes in at $8.4 million. The auditorium will also include an added-on band room in appreciation of the rapidly growing fine arts program at the school. In particular, this would open up current band space to the orchestra program.
“When I look at facility projects, I look at where we are today, but I also look at where we want to be in the future. When we look at the future, I know that we couldn’t come back in and add that band room back on for anywhere close to a million dollars,” Barrow said. “We will never be able to build it as inexpensively as we can today.”
Facilities Director Mike Satterfield said his crew could start as early as next week with completion by the end of next summer, if not sooner.
“My hope is that when we build this auditorium, that we can do something really neat at Fayette County High School and add the programs that will make it a destination,” said Board Chair Dr. Barry Marchman of the appeal it could have to new residents. “They will want to go to Fayette County High School.”