TWINSBURG – The high school auditorium will receive new lights in the near future.

The Twinsburg Board of Education voted 3-2 to approve a $41,745 contract with Vincent Lighting Systems in Solon for a new lighting system in the auditorium. The funds will come from the district’s permanent improvements budget.

The resolution on the contract had been tabled at the school board’s May 6 meeting. At that meeting, Board member Robert Felber said during that meeting that, unlike the operating fund, which recently was cut by the state due to budgetary shortfalls caused by the pandemic, the permanent improvement fund was not impacted.

At the May 6 meeting, Superintendent Kathryn Powers said that the lighting upgrades were part of a curriculum addition for a musical theater production course.

"This initial conversation started when the board reviewed our recommendation for the music production course at Twinsburg High School, and that's part of the Academy at Twinsburg High School," Powers said.

The capstone project under this new course would be a musical, Powers said.

Another reason for the lighting upgrades, Powers said, was the age of the current lighting system, coupled with the fact that because of the pandemic, the district was able to secure a good price for the new system.

"The high school is now over 20 years old, and the lighting in the high school auditorium for the most part is still original," Powers said, adding she was excited to hear the pricing that Chad [Welker, the district’s business manager] was able to secure for this project."

However, Board member Adrienne Gordon, who voted no, along with Board member Angela DeFabio, questioned making the expenditure when the district could be facing more cuts in the near future. In addition, Gordon added during the May 20 meeting, it was highly unlikely the school district will even be able to use the auditorium because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This afternoon, the CDC guidelines came up for reopening in the fall," Gordon said. "It explicitly says in the CDC guidelines for the fall no communal shared spaces should be used. As much as my family is personally invested in that auditorium, being a family that's dedicated to the drama club [and] community theater, this is a personal sacrifice. But I honestly think that the conservative thing to do right now is to save those dollars."

Gordon said the school board should use the money for things like sanitation stations and ventilation improvements.

Felber said during the May 20 meeting that the district has committed to provide the programming and should support it. In addition, he said he felt the guidelines from the state were not as clear-cut.

"I do not believe we've had very clear guidelines based on the superintendent's letter to the state superintendent," Felber said. "There are so many, many open questions about how our facilities will be used in the future. I think it's prudent to continue to invest in our students future no different than we've done with Chromebooks and buses and such. This is a small amount of a of a needed improvement."

Welker said he believed that the district was "getting about a 20% discount or more by by doing the project now."

"That would be due to the entertainment industry definitely struggling due to COVID-19," Welker said. "We also do estimate when we are operating the LED lights, that will save about 85 percent on LED costs, which is a little over $3,000 to $4,000 a year."

April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com