BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — The Panther Pride Foundation is increasing efforts to fund the capital campaign for the Performing Arts Center at Maumee High School.
The foundation supports academics, arts, athletics and other activities at Maumee City Schools that improve the student experience.
The Performing Arts Center was opened in 2005 and paid for by private donations and money from the district’s sale of Rolf Park. Nearly 20 years later, it is in need of some updating.
“There was $42,000 that was set aside and used for the carpeting and painting of the surfaces in the Performing Arts Center. It really refreshed that space. There was wear and tear, so it gave it a cleaner look,” said Erin Hyndman, the foundation’s director of development and alumni relations. “The new capital campaign – that is more geared toward wiring, lighting, all of the electronic components and things that have not been changed since 2004, 2005.”
The updates, Hyndman said, are essential for the future function of the space. There will be updates to lighting – with the goal of making it more energy efficient and long lasting, reducing the overall cost in future years. Updates to electronics and wiring can be expensive, so the foundation is hoping to raise $225,000.
With a successful campaign, the district will not have to pull from permanent improvement funds later on.
“If we don’t make these updates now, eventually we will be forced to. It will pull from permanent improvement money the district has and take away from something else that’s on the agenda,” Hyndman said.
Maumee City Schools interim Superintendent Steve Lee said the school has two separate funds – permanent improvement money and operating money. Funds from those cannot be used interchangeably.
The district receives approximately $900,000 for permanent improvements each year. To meet the standards for permanent improvement projects, the capital improvements must have a lifespan of at least five years. An internal committee annually establishes what those capital improvements might be and how funds should be allocated – from redoing roofing and parking lots to purchasing new Chromebooks – and a master list is formed.
“When the Panther Pride Foundation is able to take on a project such as what they’re doing with the Performing Arts Center, that frees up funds for us to be able to continue to accomplish our permanent improvement list,” Lee said.
Keeping funds available for other pertinent projects is important in the district, when updates are always necessary to allow the district to continue to grow and support the students, Hyndman said.
Over the years, every building in the Maumee district has required updates to keep up with the times or continue to support the staff and students.
When Union School was first opened in 1870, the number of students was nowhere close to the more than 2,000 students enrolled now. The building cost $40,000 to construct and originally housed Maumee’s high school.
Renovations and updates, including partitions in the gymnasium to support the growing student body, were required over the past 150 years.
In 1939, the high schoolers were moved to a new building on Gibbs Street, which is now Gateway Middle School. It cost $34,959 to construct.
Then, in 1961, the current high school was opened after a construction cost of nearly $2 million.
Over the years, a new wing and front office space were added to the school. In newspaper articles from the 1980s, the district discussed the need for new lighting and updates to glass blocks, flooring and more.
For longtime Maumee resident, 1974 graduate and former MCS Superintendent Greg Smith, the constant updates show the care that the district puts into each building. From Otto Beebe, the custodian at the time of the Maumee High School opening in 1961, to Larry Burda, the current Buildings and Grounds supervisor, Smith said he’s noticed the attention to detail staff and administrators have given to all the buildings.
“That’s one of the things Maumee should be proud of. They’ve always had a lot of pride in the buildings, and they’ve taken the time to do what they need to do to keep them clean and updated,” Smith said.
The resources to put so much time and money into the schools would also not be possible without the constant support of Maumee residents. For the past several decades, Smith has witnessed the support Maumee residents have offered the district.
“I was always struck by the support of the community for the schools when I was growing up,” Smith said.
As far back as the late 1800s, Maumee has had to prioritize funds to make improvements every year and by reaching out to businesses and residents, the foundation is hoping to raise enough money to assist in some of those improvements.
“If we can make the funds available to keep the PAC up to date, then I think that’s better than taking away from the other projects that need to be done in the schools,” Hyndman said.
One-time or monthly donations to the Panther Pride Foundation can be made at www.maumee.k12.oh.us/pantherpridefoundation. Donations specifically for the Performing Arts Center can be made by clicking on the Performing Arts Center tab on the website or by reaching out to Erin Hyndman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (419) 893-8778, ext. 20260. More information on how to get involved with the foundation can also be found on the website.