Flagler Auditorium needs funding to bring it back to the state-of-the-art facility it once was.
Lisa McDevitt and Jacob Oliva sat side by side at the head of the table at the school board joint workshop with the Flagler Auditorium Governing Board. School board members and the rest of the governing board occupied every available spot around the table.
McDevitt briefly went over the role of the auditorium and the services they provide, services that go beyond providing entertainment.
“The biggest mission is to invest in arts and education,” McDevitt said. “We are pretty much hands-on with all of the students. We use it as a classroom five times a day, and we provide scholarships and grants.”
The 1,100-seat auditorium was built on the campus of Flagler Palm Coast High School 25 years ago with a public bond referendum. Now, with no expectations of a second referendum or even an approved tax increase, the two groups opened discussions on ways to pay for improvements and upgrades to return the auditorium to the state-of-the-art facility it once was.
“I see a big demand for growth for the arts programs within the school district,” McDevitt said.
She was referring to the FPC band program, that has doubled in participants in the past few years and is expected to continue to grow, and the Flagler Youth Orchestra, whose numbers are also swelling.
“This is a unique facility and a teaching opportunity for students of all ages,” she said.
“I don’t think people realize how many hours of your time you spend to make the auditorium work.” Jacob Oliva Flagler Schools superintendent
The needs ranged from staffing (according to the auditorium website there are five on the payroll, including janitorial) and expanding the lobby and restrooms to lighting and parking. The staff relies heavily on its 125 volunteers, which include the governing board.
“Updating equipment is my first priority,” McDevitt said. “Lighting is at the top of that list.”
Governing Board President Richard Hamilton expressed concern about what he did not see in the school district’s strategic planning - reference to the auditorium or arts in education.
Colleen Conklin, school board chairman, assured the governing board that the district does support the arts.
“No one wants to change your mission,” Conklin said. “This is about opening dialogue. By our actions we are a district that supports the arts.”
Both groups agreed a committee comprised of governing board and school board members needs to be formed to identify and prioritize auditorium needs, and explore funding avenues.
“We will have to look at some capital dollars,” Oliva said. “This isn’t going to be fixed overnight. Long-term…five years out, and planning for five years from now starts today.”