One of the projects on FISD’s proposed $691 million bond proposition is a 1,250-seat fine arts auditorium that would include flex space for instruction and offices. The project, if the bond is approved by voters Nov. 6, could cost up to $43 million.
But FISD officials have expressed the desire to find a partner to split the cost of the facility rather than spending the entire $43 million. The largest concern officials have voiced is finding the right partner.
Cory McClendon, FISD chief student services officer, said the district would want to use the facility 150 days out of the year. The right partner would need to understand FISD’s needs with the facility, he said.
“The thing that we have to look at is through the student lens first just to make sure our students are being served at the capacity that they need to,” McClendon said.
At FISD board of trustees meetings in August, Todd Fouche, deputy superintendent of business and operations, said the district has met with developer Craig Hall and city officials to discuss potential partnerships. No decision has been made, but Fouche said discussions would continue.
Regardless of what discussions the district has now, McClendon said no decision could be made until after the November election.
Nearly 22,000 FISD students are involved in fine arts programs.
Many schools have a stage built into the cafeteria for small productions, McClendon said. Each high school has an auditorium that seats up to 600 people, and middle schools will use these auditoriums for performances.
“When you think about the different performances and things that we have going on, it’s a well-sought-after space,” McClendon said.
Auditorium space becomes even more coveted when FISD schools host UIL or Texas Music Educators Association events and competitions, McClendon said. These events disrupt instructional time because the entire fine arts wing of a school is taken up for rehearsal and waiting space, he said.
A separate, larger fine arts auditorium could be used to host those types of events, freeing up each school’s auditorium for other fine arts programs, McClendon said.
“What that does is it pulls [events] out of the school so that our orchestra could continue to practice, our theater could continue to practice, our choir is not displaced,” he said. “It lets all of those [groups] that aren’t actually competing continue with instruction.”
McClendon also said a new auditorium would allow the district to host larger events. Large performances—some of which involve multiple schools—have been held at local venues outside of FISD schools, such as The Star in Frisco and local churches.
Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, a Frisco architectural and engineering firm, in conjunction with New York-based consulting firm Webb Management Services, conducted a feasibility study for the city of Frisco to determine the need for a performing arts center.
According to the study, 14 performing arts groups have 667 days of demand for performance facilities in Frisco. Local groups often leave the city for rehearsal and performance space, according to the study.
The committee that proposed the bond package to FISD recommended allowing outside groups 155 days out of the year to use the district’s fine arts auditorium.
Nicole Luna contributed to this story.