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After delaying a decision on covering the high school auditorium stage floor with a new flooring material, the Chadron Public School District Monday again determined that waiting is the best course of action.

However, staff was given the blessing of the board and administration to paint the tile floor black.

“A stage floor is supposed to be dark,” said Wendy Mahr, the district’s vocal music instructor.

The current blue tiles reflect a lot of light and do not look professional; that can be remedied with $130, she said.

Mahr plans to have the stage painted prior to this weekend’s performances of “Shrek: The Musical.” Omaha Performing Arts staff are expected to review the show this weekend because Claire Margetts was selected as one of six actresses from across the state as a national finalist in the organization’s Nebraska High School Theater Academy. The state academy is a pre-cursor event to the Broadway League’s National High School Musical Theatre Awards. Two students from Nebraska – one boy, one girl – can be selected to attend a week of coaching with New Your University Tisch School of Arts faculty, and Broadway professionals. The week also serves as a rehearsal for The Jimmy Awards Showcase.

While the paint will be a visual improvement, it is a short-term fix, Mahr said. The tile is unsafe for actors as it is slippery.

“It’s the only place I’ve ever been with a tile floor,” she said.

Last month, the board declined to spend $8,000 on either of two options presented to them because they would not improve the safety of the stage floor. Safety, however, isn’t the only concern, Mahr explained. The next major auditorium improvement project calls for upgrading the lighting and sound system, and with it some of the electrical infrastructure. There are 13 working lights out of about 40, she said, as well as old fuse boxes that cannot support operating certain types of equipment at the same time.

As technology advances, it will be likely the school district should look at installing equipment underneath the stage, Mahr continued. That will lessen the amount of equipment in the sound booth, but requires careful consideration of what the next moves with the stage floor.

“I want us to invest in things that are a little more thoughtful,” she said.

The auditorium sees a lot of use by both the school and community and changes need to make sense from structural and safety standpoints but also must be effective and long-lasting, Mahr continued.

John Morford, of Morford’s Decoration, agreed that the options presented to the board for the stage floor last month would not have solved the safety issues, nor would they have allowed for the future installation of access panels for upgraded electrical and set improvements.

“I think there are a lot of options, but I think they need to be researched,” he said.

The board agreed with that sentiment, agreeing that the short-term solution of black paint will suffice until the district can find a proposal that satisfies the demands of the auditorium well into the future.

“If we’re going to do this let’s do it right,” said board member Boone Huffman.

In other business, the board approved converting the half-time early childhood special education position to a full-time position due to the current caseload. The district currently has 41 special education students in early childhood special ed, with two more being tested, said Special Ed Director Libby Uhing.

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