Viewpoint: Lottery proceeds paid for much needed meeting space at CATS
BY MARTIN PAGE
I would like to share some information about the new auditorium/meeting room at the Iredell-Statesville Schools Career Academy and Technical School (CATS) that is now being used by the school board for its meetings.
First, this auditorium/meeting room was paid for by lottery funds, not local taxpayer money.
This room was not designed and built as board meeting room at all but has has been in the buildout plan for a Career Academy and Technical School auditorium for many years. Finished in May of this year, this multipurpose facility is also designed for several other functions.
The room’s main function is as a 300-seat auditorium for CATS, large enough to allow for student functions and assemblies, including graduation ceremonies. In the past CATS has actually rented facilities for graduation.
The room was also designed to provide a larger area for the Culinary Arts Department to cater events as part of our student’s “Real World Work Experiences,” which CATS is so well known for. The room provides a comfortable food service area for well over 100 guests and is adjacent to our culinary department.
Since ISS’s Digital Media Program and studio are located at CATS, this facility also is the perfect place to be equipped to broadcast and live-stream events, again giving those students the opportunity for “Real World Experiences.”
Another educational plus for this room is it provides a large testing area for EOCs, AP exams, various certification exams, and other specific testing as well as for events featuring educational displays.
Other than being a very important educational area, this room also provides several additional opportunities for I-SS. With its excellent internet and media capabilities, this room is available to be a live face-to-face as well as a digital learning facility for system staff training, something I-SS desperately needed. Several departments have already hosted training sessions here.
Our Food Service and Nutrition and our Maintenance Departments also held their end-of-year luncheons in the new room rather than book large restaurant spaces as was customary in the past.
The room is also available for community events. Recently, the Town of Troutman held its public meeting for discussion of a possible southwest bypass in this facility.
This meeting room, the construction of which was encouraged by Iredell County commissioners, will also provide an important meeting space for economic development meetings. What better place to have economic development meetings than at the county educational system’s nationally recognized Career Academy and Technical School? The commissioners’ October retreat is already scheduled here.
Over the past years, the school board desired to find a better place for our meetings. The old room at ADR used for Committee of the Whole meetings had many issues. It was very small and had limited ability to live stream meetings. Heating and air conditioning were also issues on some nights.
The use of the county’s old courthouse for the formal board meetings was also problematic. Internet access was limited, and its audio and video equipment did not provide for live streaming. Scheduling at the courthouse for called meetings was also sometimes an issue. The board really appreciates the county allowing us the use of their facility, but we needed our own place.
When we realized the new room at CATS pretty much provided most everything we needed and more, it was a no-brainer to use it. Additional expenses only included a few new podiums, chairs, and microphones for the board members, all of which are available to be used by other groups using the facility.
Martin Page is chairman of the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education.