Work on a $34 million renovation at Dubuque Senior High School has proceeded on schedule so far, as Dubuque Community Schools leaders take steps to continue moving it forward.
School board members this week voted to send out for bids theatrical lighting work as part of improvements planned for the Senior auditorium. Meanwhile, other aspects of the project that kicked off in June are on or ahead of schedule so far, district leaders said.
“As far as I know, they’re telling us that they’re on schedule and just waiting for materials to show up,” said Mark Fassbinder, the district’s manager of buildings and grounds, ahead of the school board’s meeting.
The theater lighting work focuses on updating stage lights and is expected to cost about $125,000. Bids for the work are due to the district in August. Other planned auditorium work includes a new event entrance and a theater support addition, as well as new seating, catwalks and sound and video capability.
“The finishes, the seats, everything is going to be new in there inside the shell that exists, so this is just in line with that,” Fassbinder said.
So far at Senior, crews have concentrated on work on the west side of the school where the theater support addition will be constructed so the loading dock is available for the start of the school year. Crews also have removed the old entrance to Nora Gymnasium and are preparing to start work on a performance P.E. and wrestling room addition.
As work progresses, the district is working with local residents who seek to find a new home for the murals in the auditorium, rather than seeing them covered or taken down, Fassbinder said.
Jeff Mozena, of Dubuque, is taking the lead on that effort. He noted that the pieces were created by artist and Dubuque native Cyril P. Ferring in the 1930s. About 10 years ago, Mozena’s mother provided funding to help restore the artwork.
“We’re working to try to get it removed, at which point, it would be stored until we can find a place for it to again grace the community,” Mozena said.
He said he is working on finding a place where the murals could be stored but noted that district officials and the contractor have been cooperative in trying to save the paintings if possible.
Fassbinder said that if Mozena cannot find a space for the murals, officials will digitally record them so construction in the auditorium can continue.