When the house lights go up in the Newton High School auditorium next fall, they’ll be almost as bright as the stars on the stage.
The Newton Community School District Board of Education approved a proposal Monday night to upgrade the auditorium’s house lighting, the first lighting upgrade since the facility was built in 1980, according to NCSD Maintenance Supervisor Jack Suttek.
“You have to figure, this place has been out of sight, out of mind for us since it was built in 1980,” Suttek said. “It’s kind of a showpiece for us.”
The project will come at a cost of $41,076, with the winning bid submitted by Van Maanen Electric of Newton.
Two other companies also submitted bids, including BulbGuy Lighting of Des Moines, at $43,690, and C3 Electric, at $51,060. The project will convert the existing lights in the auditorium to LED lighting to help reduce electrical costs. Van Maanen will retrofit LED lights into 51 recessed fixtures, as well as replacing 12 existing pendant lights. On Monday, Suttek said the contractor has a history of working with the district in the past.
“Van Maanen has done work for us in the past, they’ve been great in the past,” Suttek said.
Upgrading to LED lighting fixtures also means the district will see a savings on its electrical bill, with district administrators estimating the lights will pay for themselves in approximately 10 years, as well as reducing their electrical bill by 10 percent.
Board members have been shining a light on the high school’s auditorium recently, voting last year to revamp the aging sound system, some of the first upgrades completed at the auditorium since it was constructed in 1980. Even if board members had opted not to upgrade the lights at auditorium Suttek estimated the district was looking at spending at least $10,000 to replace lighting fixtures that were no longer working in the auditorium.
“We’d have to throw $10,000 at it, just to bring it back,” Suttek said.
The project’s biggest single cost — the need to set up scaffolding to reach the overhead lights in the auditorium make it prohibitive for district employees to take on the project themselves, Suttek said.
“The guys putting the scaffolding up, that’s $4,000 of the bid,” Suttek said.
The upgrades will be covered by the district’s SAVE funds, a move that NCSD Superintendent Bob Callaghan said will also provide a financial boost for the district. The energy savings associated with the lighting upgrades will lessen costs covered by the district’s general fund, Callaghan said in an interview last week.
“This really fits in with our whole package to reduce fixed costs for energy consumption,” Callaghan said. “The biggest difference is that we’ll use categorical funds, which will provide a savings to the general fund.”
Funding for the project will come from the district’s fiscal year 2019 budget, with work estimated to begin over the summer. Board member Donna Cook said she’s excited to see the upgrading lighting go in, as a regular attendee at the district’s theatrical productions Cook said non-working house lighting makes it hard to enjoy the show.
“It’s really hard even watching something,” Cook said.
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