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Clayton Performing Arts Center to get upgrades

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Jeylin White

jwhite@news-daily.com

It was just last year that school officials celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Clayton County Public Schools Performing Arts Center. And now, after 21 years of serving as a venue for the talent and creativity of school children, the facility -- known to many as simply, "The PAC" -- is in line for a makeover.

It is currently closed, in preparation for the expected renovations, according to School System Spokesman Charles White.

Clayton County Board of Education members are studying several bids for the remodeling work. According to an Executive Summary document board members were given, 10 construction companies have submitted bids for the project. They include: Barton Malow, Carroll Daniel Construction Co., Copper and Company, Doster Construction, Hensler and Beavers, Hogan Construction Group, Inc., McKnight Construction, Nix-Flower Construction, Inc., Ricks Contractors, Inc., and Swofford Construction, Inc.

During a recent school board meeting, Cephus Jackson, the school district's chief operations officer, presented the list of companies under consideration -- and with Superintendent Edmond Heatley's recommendation -- suggested that the board move forward with Ricks Contractors, Inc., which had the lowest bid, estimated at $3.6 million.

White, however, said later that the board is not expected to take action on the selection until its July 11 meeting.

"Right now, we do not know how much the renovations to the PAC facility will be," he added. "We won't know until the next board meeting ... We already have an idea of the scope of work expected for the PAC facility."

The Interior work, he said, will include: Small additions at the front of the existing lobby area, on each side of the entry; additional office space and upgrades to existing space; the refurbishing of existing restrooms and the backstage area with new fixtures and finishes; the replacement of the orchestra pit, stage curtains, stage lights, and sound system; construction of ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) accessible toilets in the public area, to bring restrooms up to code; and replacing a 20-year-old air-handling unit.

Exterior changes, White said, "will include, but are not limited to, reroofing of the facility, and replacement of the existing storefront, and entry-door system, including ADA automatic door openers."

"The 21-year-old building was due for some upgrades," added Kay Sledge, who is the director of fine arts for the school system. "This is the first time the facility has been [substantially] renovated. With technology vastly improving, we need to upgrade our lighting and sound systems. The orchestra pit was posing some safety concerns and was also long overdue for an upgrade."

According to Sledge, the renovations are expected to be completed by next spring.

But, she added that she was not certain of the specific date when the facility will be in full operation. In the meantime, Sledge said, school performances will be held at various venues in the community, and at schools.

"I'm hoping, maybe, some community organizations will volunteer the venues, such as churches," she said. "We're willing to partner with our community in as many ways as possible."