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John Legend Theater in Springfield school nears completion

Work continues on the balcony area of the John Legend Theater at The Dome Monday. Bill Lackey/Staff
Work continues on the balcony area of the John Legend Theater at The Dome Monday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has closely followed progress of the renovation of the former South High School, including stories on the new Global Impact STEM Academy and Career ConnectED Center there and the John Legend Theater.

As Springfield City School District prepares to unveil the newly renovated John Legend Theater this fall, the district is determining how the space will best be shared with the community.

At a work session last week, the board was presented with information about the ongoing theater renovation and the use so far of various meeting spaces that Springfield Center of Innovation: The Dome.

Meeting rooms have been made available for free to community groups since the center opened last summer, but the district will begin charging for their use as well as for use of the theater once renovations are complete.

“We appreciate that the board wants to make the space available and affordable to community groups and other schools when it’s not being used by Springfield City Schools. We will work to find the right balance between the real costs of operating the theater and what various users can afford to pay,” Superintendent Bob Hill said.

The district is putting introductory prices together based on what similar school and community theater spaces charge, according to Kim Fish, director of communications and collective impact.

School groups in the district will get use of the venue for free, organizations presenting programs that align with the educational mission will be charged one set of pricing, and for-profit organizations will be a different price, Fish said.

The district will evaluate the costs and pricing after the first year and adjust as needed.

“I think we all see this as a local venue that currently does not exist in Springfield that will offer new and expanded opportunities for our students and community’s art, theatre and music groups,” board president Ed Leventhal said.

District graduate and Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy winning artist John Legend gave $500,000 for the project and other donors including Speedway, Security National Bank, the Turner Foundation, and the Springfield Foundation have brought the total funds raised to about $900,000.

The $2.5 million project is expected to be completed by Sept. 1.

A community open house to tour the completed space is planned that month, Fish said.

In other business, Wednesday, the school board approved the purchase of instructional materials for kindergarten through third grade summer school classes in order to provide better intervention for students who are not on track for the third grade reading guarantee.

The curriculum comes from Benchmark Education Company and costs about $62,000.