Auditorium, school upgrade almost done

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Details are being finished on the inside of the new auditorium and the outside is almost done as well. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

The new 766-seat auditorium is considered a state-of-the-art facility.



4.5 percent over budget is said to be typical for a project of this scale

By Ted Pennekamp


The new auditorium at the high school will soon be completed, which will wrap up the entire school facilities upgrade project for the three schools of the Prairie du Chien Area School District.

“The auditorium is 99 percent complete,” said District Administrator Robert Smudde. “We hope it will be ready to go the week of Nov. 10 so it will be in time for the school musical.”

The 766 seats of the auditorium have been installed and the final details are being worked on. As of now, Smudde said, the auditorium is being called the Prairie du Chien Area Performing Arts Center, but the name is subject to change.

The gathering and ticket area is done, and the auditorium has a separate entrance from the main entrance to the high school. The auditorium is 45 feet high (four stories) because of all of the catwalks and rigging needed for performances. There is also an orchestra pit in front of the stage. An auditorium director is expected to be hired at a later date.

Because of the increased space as a result of the entire facilities upgrade project, one new person has been hired for the custodial staff.

Also, now that the auditorium is nearly done, the cost of the entire facilities upgrade project is now known.

“The community approved $18.9 million for the building project, of which we are approximately $850,000 over the $18.9 million,” said Smudde. “Some of the reasons for this are poor soil that needed to be fixed at Bluff View for about $150,000, a change in lighting to LEDs at the high school for $170,000, and additional data access for both Internet and wireless in both new and old construction for approximately $90,000.

“As you can see, some of the overages were unavoidable and some were choice by the district,” Smudde continued. “We feel that the improvements made will help our buildings stand the test of time. The overages are approximately 4.5 percent of the original budget, which is typical of a project of this size. 

“We are looking to have our fall musical coupled with the FallFire Art Show be our first event in the new auditorium, and looking to have events at each site within the next month.”

The entire facilities upgrade project includes numerous upgrades at the high school, Bluff View and B.A. Kennedy. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on April 19, 2017, at the high school. The addition on the east side of the high school is 31,170 square feet and houses the new gymnasium and a greenhouse. The gym has 20 baskets. The new 27,960-square-foot auditorium is on the west side of the high school. The library and some rest rooms were upgraded at B.A. Kennedy. The new band room, technical education room and science room have been completed at Bluff View. The Bluff View gym is now larger. A storage building was added behind Bluff View and the parking lot has been upgraded. There is air conditioning now in all three schools.

The architect for the facilities upgrade project is HSR Associates of La Crosse. The general contractor is Olympic Builders of Holmen.


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