‘Cafetorium,’ competition gym added to school plans in Wright City

John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 6/24/22

The Wright City R-II School Board has approved a plan for the district’s new high school that will include a new performing arts gymnasium and a “cafetorium” — a combination …

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‘Cafetorium,’ competition gym added to school plans in Wright City

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The Wright City R-II School Board has approved a plan for the district’s new high school that will include a new performing arts gymnasium and a “cafetorium” — a combination cafeteria and auditorium space.

The board voted 7-0 last week to approve the base bids and four consolidated alternate bids for construction at the school. The base bid estimates total over $43 million and include phase one of the new high school, new high school site work, four storm shelter classrooms at East Elementary, renovation of the existing high school and renovation of existing administration building. The projected cost also includes escalation and contingency funds that provide a cushion for unexpected spending needs. The consolidated alternates total over $13.8 million and include a completed football stadium, completed competition gym, completed baseball and softball fields and a completed cafetorium.

The board also considered a full performing arts auditorium, which had a similar cost to the competition gymnasium.

School district Superintendent Chris Berger said the administration supported the decision to utilize a cafetorium.

“Of course, it does not make everybody happy,” Berger said. “We wish we had the resources for it all. But the most practical choice for us in terms of recommendation is the cafetorium, and it’s not really close for us.”

Multiple board members said that information shared at last week’s meeting, informing them that the school band was not planning to use the performing arts auditorium, impacted their decision.

“(The band) will not use the performing arts center for very much at all,” Berger said. “And they won’t use the cafetorium. They’ll use the gymnasium. Of course, what they’re very excited about is the (outdoor) turf. That is the priority. That is their priority for marching band. That’s what they want. They’re very excited about that.”

The school currently would hold a band performance with a temporary stage at the gym or at West Elementary on a stage, district staff confirmed.

Board member Heidi Halleman noted the cafetorium will be a large upgrade for the district.

“If we spend $700,000 on upgrading our cafeteria, we are a thousand steps ahead of where we’re at right now. … It’s way beyond anything that we currently have,” Halleman said.

There are 87 athletes that will use the performance gym, with 50 performance nights. Without the band using the performing arts auditorium, there would be 45 students using the performing arts center with 10 performance nights, district officials said.

“From a utilitarian perspective, what I’m hearing is that a performance gym is going to get more use than a performing arts center,” board President Austin Jones said. “If I’m going to spend $7 million on one or the other, I’m going to get more use out of the performance gym than I am the performing arts auditorium.”

Berger stressed at previous board meetings the performing arts auditorium can be constructed in the future and will be put in the district’s master plan. He said if the board did not build a new competition gymnasium, the district would have needed to transport athletes from the new high school to the current high school’s gymnasium.

Wright City High School, New school, Construction

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