School staff discusses fundraising
By Angie Landsverk
The Weyauwega-Fremont School District is researching what it will cost to get a grand piano for its new high school auditorium.
Construction of the 400-seat auditorium will begin this September and be completed a year later.
“The auditorium will be a reality quite soon,” District Administrator Scott Bleck said. “Our auditorium should deserve a grand piano when it’s done, up and running.”
He made the comment during the school board’s June 12 meeting, as part of a discussion on the topic.
A member of the district’s staff approached Drew Niehans to find out what needs to be done to make it happen.
Niehans, the district’s business manager, began playing piano when he was about 6 years old.
He contacted two dealers – one in Appleton and another in Madison.
Niehans said a seven-foot grand piano is the minimum size that should be placed in a 400-seat auditorium.
A Steinway grand piano or a Yamaha grand piano would be options for the district.
Steinway & Sons also designs other lines of grand pianos – the Boston and the Essex.
Each Steinway piano is individually made.
“If you want a Steinway, you go to New York,” Niehans said.
He said the district will first need to determine what size grand piano it wants to get before fundraising begins.
He wants to discuss fundraising ideas with the two Steinway dealers (Appleton and Madison)
A typical fundraiser for a grand piano involves people donating an amount equal to or toward the cost of a key on a piano.
“I don’t think anyone realistically thinks we can fundraise for $40,000 to $50,000 in a one-year period,” Niehans said.
He estimated the cost range for a grand piano of being between $35,000 and $70,000.
Having a grand piano in the district means students of local piano teachers would be able to play on it.
Niehans also noted there is a piano tuner in Waupaca, who is certified to tune Steinways.
Board member Sandy Smith said she will bring the idea of fundraising for a grand piano to the attention of the district’s alumni as well.
The addition of a 400-seat auditorium is part of the district’s building and improvement program, approved by district residents last November in a referendum question.
HVAC work in the high school is underway.
The project will also include the construction of classrooms for science, a new entrance to the school, remodeling in various parts of the high school and the addition of a multi-purpose gym/fitness area.
The school board will soon try a new meeting schedule.
Instead of having a Committee of the Whole meeting on the second Monday of the month and then the regular board meeting on the fourth Monday of the month, the board will hold both meetings on the same night – on the fourth Monday of the month.
The regular board meeting will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the Committee of the Whole meeting.
The board recently voted to begin its meetings at 6 p.m., rather than 6:30 p.m.
Discussion takes place at committee meetings.
The board does not take action at those meeting. That takes place during its regular board meetings.
The June 12 meeting was a Committee of the Whole meeting.
That means the items discussed during that meeting will go before the board for action when its holds its regular meeting on Monday, June 26.
The Committee of the Whole meeting following that meeting will include discussion items for the board’s regular July meeting.
Since it is a board policy to hold the regular meetings on the fourth Monday of the month, a policy change is not necessary regarding the Committee of the Whole meetings.
It was board member Kurt Duxbury who recently brought up the idea of having both meetings on the same night.
After the board decided to begin its meetings at 6 p.m., board member Debi Bartel said it was worth discussing the idea further.
She suggested the board try it, and others agreed.
“My life is driven by efficiency all the time,” Duxbury said last month.