The number of performing arts groups and churches paying to use Franklin’s middle and high school buildings is growing, but the school district needs more time to figure out what kind of a profit it can expect from rental fees.
For the past year, performing arts director Doug Corliss has been touting Franklin’s buildings, particularly the high school’s 918-seat performing arts center, to renters including local churches and national dance companies. When Corliss was hired a year ago, the goal was for him to persuade enough of these groups to rent building space so that the cash-strapped school district could bring in about $120,000 by the end of this year.
Corliss is projecting that, with the bookings he has through the end of December, Franklin will take in about $130,000 in rental fees.
But the rental money Corliss raises isn’t all profit for Franklin, which, because of property tax caps, isn’t bringing in enough tax money for building improvement and maintenance projects and to replace buses as often as needed.
The rental fees need to be able to cover all of Franklin’s performing arts expenses, including Corliss’ $58,674 annual salary, utilities, and maintenance and repairs. Corliss said he probably won’t know the total cost for those expenses until next year.
With more groups using the performing arts center and other buildings, repairs, equipment upgrades and replacements will be needed more frequently. Corliss said he doesn’t expect repair and upkeep totals to be too expensive — possibly $2,000 to $6,000 per year — but he likely won’t know the combined amount of those expenses, his salary and other costs until next spring.
Corliss said he’s confident he can bring in at least $200,000 in rental fees for Franklin next year, which would put him on track for meeting the school district’s $200,000 to $250,000 rental fee goal for 2015.
“As long as the economy kind of stays where it is or gets better, I don’t think we’ll have a challenge of staying between $200,000 and $250,000 annually,” Corliss said.
Administrators plan to meet at the end of the month to begin reviewing how they can use any of the excess rental money, though they won’t know how much they can spend until they determine the final performing arts expenses, executive director of finance Jeff Mercer said.