Last month, the Mason City School District held two town halls to discuss the district’s Facilities Master Plan and district finances. The Master Facilities Plan includes a modest addition to the Mason Early Childhood Center, some renovations inside Mason Intermediate School, and a total renovation of Mason Middle School. Under the plan that community members liked best, in 2019-2020 Western Row Elementary will close; the district’s preschool through second graders will attend the Mason Early Childhood Center; third through sixth graders will attend Mason Intermediate School; seventh and eighth graders will attend Mason Middle School; and ninth through twelfth graders will attend Mason High School. Nearly $34 million of the $43 million plan is being paid for with tobacco settlement funds from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
During the town halls, community members were asked to share feedback about transition options and timing for the school year when Mason Middle School undergoes an overhaul. The district presented two options originally, but based on community feedback a third “Option C” emerged that better addressed concerns about managing the transition for students by ensuring that students attended schools in buildings that were better equipped for their body sizes, and keeping MMS students closer together to ensure equity in after-school and athletic opportunities. Mason Middle School students will relocate to Mason Intermediate School and Mason High School during 2018-2019 school year, while awaiting the multi-million-dollar reconstruction of their school. Third and fourth graders will attend classes at Western Row during the 2018-2019 school year.
“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,” explained Dr. Gail-Kist-Kline, Superintendent.
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 simply isn’t enough space at Mason High School or Mason Intermediate School to keep the grade level together during the transition year.
Mason Middle School leaders are committed to creating equitable program options for all eighth graders - whether they attend school in the MMS section of Mason Intermediate or the MMS section of Mason High School.
“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, MMS 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.”