Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Mason schools: We need more yet

Enquirer Contributor

        MASON — Fifteen to 20 classrooms more will be needed to house students in the Mason schools in the year before a proposed new high school would open.

        Superintendent Kevin Bright said school officials are already looking at how to handle the continued student growth in the 2001-02 school year.

        “We're going to experience pain,” Mr. Bright said. “It's not the first time we've had to do this. If growth keeps up, we're going to be short classrooms in about two years.”

        If voters approve a $71.9 million bond issue Tuesday, a high school and recreation center will be built jointly by the schools and city of Mason on 73 acres along Mason-Montgomery Road, near Mason High School. The high school won't open until August 2002, with the recreation center following six to nine months later.

        Seventh- and eighth-graders would move to the existing high school, first- through third-graders would be as signed to either Western Row or Mason Heights depending on where they lived, and students in grades four through six would attend classes at the intermediate/middle school complex. Preschool and kindergarten children would remain at the Mason Early Childhood Center.

        Projections call for the district to continue growing by 600 to 700 students each year for the next several years, Mr. Bright said. In the past three years, the district has averaged 600 new students each year, with 709 new students enrolling from October 1998 to October 1999, bringing enrollment to 6,109 students.

        “We've already begun pur suing options for the transition year,” Mr. Bright said. “Nothing is firm yet.”

        Among options being looked at are renting portable modular classrooms and renting space from nearby churches, Mr. Bright said.

        “Putting modular classrooms in is not something this community has wanted to do in the past. You have to put down concrete slabs, put in ramps, railings and hook up utilities.”

        Along with planning for classrooms, the district is also looking at financial needs, Mr. Bright said. Projections call for the district to remain solvent through June 2002.

        The district likely will ask voters to approve an operating levy of 4.5 to 6.5 mills sometime next year. A 4.5-mill levy would raise about $3,249,000 annually, and a 6.5-mill levy would raise $4,693,000 if it were put on the ballot next week, said Warren County Auditor Nick Nelson.

        That figure would likely rise by the time it were to be put on the ballot because properties are being reappraised this year in Warren County, and values probably will increase.


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