Mason school officials pick $42.2 million building plans

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Mason school officials pick $42.2 million building plans

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Mason school officials held a series of public meetings last month to determine resident’s ideas for a $42.2 million change in school buildings’ grade alignments, renovations and additions in the coming years. Tuesday Mason school officials announced their plans.

Big changes are coming to Mason Schools as officials announced final plans Tuesday for $42.2 million construction, renovation and grade re-alignments for Warren County’s largest school system.

After a series of town hall meetings last month, Mason school officials said they listened to residents’ suggestions in formulating the new infrastructure plan, which has been designed to be done without a tax hike.

The plan released “includes a modest addition to the Mason Early Childhood Center, some renovations inside Mason Intermediate School and a total renovation of Mason Middle School,” school officials said in a released statement.

The plan uses mostly funds from Ohio’s past tobacco litigation settlement combined with other state funding.

“Under the plan that community members liked best, in 2019-2020 Western Row Elementary will close and the district’s preschool through second graders will attend the Mason Early Childhood Center.”

“The third through sixth graders will attend Mason Intermediate School; seventh and eighth graders will attend Mason Middle School and ninth through 12th graders will attend Mason High School,” officials said.

Gail Kist-Kline, superintendent of the 10,000-student district, said, “originally, our transition plans called for putting seventh grade and a portion of eighth grade at Western Row Elementary while the construction was taking place at Mason Middle School.”

“However, some parents and staff came up with what we now think is a better plan. Having third graders attend Western Row and keeping fourth graders at Western Row in 2018-2019 (since the fourth graders would have been there in 2017-2018 as third graders) just seemed a more natural transition that better matches the building to these students’ smaller bodies, and won’t require the same level of investment as would have been needed if we were to bring older students there for one year,” said Kist-Kline.

District and school officials recognize that the need to split eighth grade in 2018-2019 will cause some anxiety for students and their families. The split is required because there isn’t enough space at Mason High School or Mason Intermediate School to keep the grade level together during the transition year, they said.

“We are working now on what the schedule will look like for 2018-2019, and will strive to ensure that the one-year split of eighth grade is equitable,” said Tonya McCall, Mason Middle School Principal.

“Change is never easy, but we are lucky to know at the end of all of this our students will be coming to a great, newly remodeled school designed with their specific needs in mind.”

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