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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Community center auditorium may solve AME problem

The planned auditorium for the Anna Maria Island Community Center may be a solution to the need to eliminate some planned additions and amenities for the new Anna Maria Elementary School to meet the school board budget for the school.

Members of the School Advisory Committee heard a presentation from Center Executive Director Pierrette Kelly Nov. 22 in which she outlined the center's new auditorium.

Under its renovation plan, one wall of the gymnasium will be pushed back to create enough room for a performing center that could accommodate between 350 and 400 people for events, said Kelly.

The school district had planned to build a new, larger auditorium at AME along with a separate art and music building for $1.8 million, said AME Principal Kathy Hayes. Faced with cost-cutting measures, however, those plans need to be scrapped unless funds can be raised to cover the cost. The auditorium could be renovated instead, she suggested, and the school board has $500,000 in the AME budget for that project.

Hayes asked Kelly to make a presentation to the SAC in hopes that the Center auditorium might also be used by AME students and parents for events.

Since both groups are trying to raise money from the same donors, Kelly suggested the school use the Center auditorium.

"You'd still have your renovated auditorium, but you'd have a community venue at the center" for student plays, performances, practices, concerts and other activities.

"Great solution," said SAC member Don Schroder. "We could have social functions, major theater productions and other events produced at the center," he noted, without trying to find the money for a new auditorium and music center for the school.