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Abby K-12 considers multi-use addition

Members of the Abbotsford School Board’s facilities committee spent about two hours Tuesday afternoon tinkering with floor options for a proposed multipurpose auditorium that would partially be paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA is normally associated with responding to hurricanes and other natural disasters, but it also provides 75 percent matching grants for school districts and other entities willing to build auditoriums and gyms that can double as a storm shelter during an emergency.

The Spencer School District recently approved a structure that is similar to the one being considered in Abbotsford. Under the proposal presented Tuesday, a circular addition with a domed roof would be built onto the existing K-12 campus just south of the south gym.

According to a rough layout developed by Jordan Buss of JBAD Solutions, the auditorium would have enough room for a stage and up to 394 retractable bleacher seats that could be rolled back for sporting events or practices. The nearly 40,000 square foot addition would also include a couple of multi-purpose rooms that could potentially be used as future classrooms if the district’s student population continue to increase.

Superintendent Sherry Baker said she believes as many as four new classrooms could be fit inside the proposed addition, depending on how space is arranged.

When Baker first introduced the grant idea to the board in October, she said “a place for the arts” is the “only missing ingredient” for a district that already has two full-sized gyms, a pool and a relatively new elementary addition.

However, board members also wanted to explore ways the proposed addition could be used for smaller-scale athletic events, such as middle school basketball or dual wrestling meets.

Buss was able to overlay scaled images of a basketball court and wrestling mats to show committee members how the space could be used in several different ways because of the telescopic seating.

Based on feedback from the committee, Buss also rotated the layout of the circular structure by 90 degrees and rearranged the doors and walls. He said he was going to turn the plans over to an architect by the end this week so the proposal can be presented to FEMA by the Jan. 31 application deadline.

It’s unclear at this point how much the district would have to pay toward the project if the FEMA grant were approved, but Baker said more than $1 million in grant money may be available depending on what the “eligible costs” are.

If approved and fully funded, Buss said construction could start as early as the spring of 2021.