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By Miriam Raftery

April 9, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Multiple sources have advised ECM that Wednesday night’s meeting of the Grossmont Union High School Board will include a discussion on theater options to meet the needs of students--and, perhaps, the broader East County community.  Options are set to be raised under the Board President’s report, item VI(b) on the agenda. 

The discussion is expected to center around whether a new events center should be built at Grossmont High School as well as whether the district should consider partnering with the City of El Cajon to reopen the East County Performing Arts Center.

Councilman Gary Kendrick has advised ECM that Board President Jim Kelley thinks teaming up with El Cajon to restore the long-closed performing arts center is a “good idea.”  Some prominent community leaders are also reportedly in favor of such a partnership.  But there are key hurdles to making it happen.

Already there is controversy over use of bond monies for the performing arts center built at Helix and other PACs proposed on additional campuses. 

Board member Priscilla Schreiber has indicated that if the district were to invest in fixing up the run-down ECPAC, one possibility would be to also built an adjacent multi-use facility that could be used by the district’s high schools as well as by others in the community as a conference center and more. She likened the concept to the Jacob Center.

The partnership could be a means of reviving the theater and creating a vibrant arts and community hub that would help boost revenues for El Cajon while saving the school district money on future construction projects. 

Any such proposal could face resistance, however, from schools in the district seeking to have performing arts centers on their own campuses, though it would be costly to build such facilities and costs would be beyond the scope of previously approved bond measures.  The idea could also reignite debate over why the district is investing in projects not mandated by Props H and U when the district has not built the long-promised Alpine High School approved by voters.

The concept of partnering with the GUHSD was raised last year during meetings of Save ECPAC, a citizens’ committee. Committee members generally reacted favorably to the idea of forging a partnership with the school district, provided ample scheduling time could be left for community groups and professional arts, music and theatrical productions to be held for the public benefit.

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