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Patrick Henry High could get a new auditorium after all, even though it wasn’t originally planned under the $2.1 billion facilities bond that is paying for renovations and new construction across San Diego Unified schools.

That’s good news for Henry High, where parents and students lobbied hard for a new facility to replace the “cafetorium” that doubles as a lunch hall and an auditorium. But there’s also good news for other taxpayers eyeing the money: School district officials say it won’t cut into other funds, as they had predicted.

How is that possible? Stuart Markey, who oversees the school construction bond, says they’re saving money on other Henry High projects to pay for the $6.3 million project. Things that are less important to the community — such as aluminum bleachers — will be scaled back to cover the added auditorium costs out of the $36 million that San Diego Unified planned to spend at Henry, Markey said.

“We listen very carefully to what the site wants and what the community wants and what’s right for the students,” Markey said, adding that the existing cafetorium “has been a shame.”

Adding the auditorium isn’t expected to delay other projects because it will occur at the same time as other school repairs in 2015. Another high school, Morse, also lacks an auditorium but Markey said the Morse community isn’t pushing for it.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the plan next Tuesday.

— EMILY ALPERT

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