Friday, May 21, 1999

Mason studies school options


Community works on expansion

BY MIRIAM SMITH
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Residents who huddled in small groups Wednesday night had a daunting task: Pick a multimillion-dollar building plan to fit about 5,000 more Mason students in the next six years.

        By the time they finished, the majority of groups polled said the best option was to build a high school for 2,400 students and an elementary for 1,200 students. The existing high school would house about 1,500 seventh- and eighth-graders.

        About 350 parents, students and teachers gave their input Wednesday in the second of two community discussion sessions on the district's building options.

        The groups' input and individual surveys will be tallied, and a steering committee will use them to develop a proposal to be presented to the board of education in June or July.

        The board is expected to vote on a plan in late summer or early fall, and voters likely will face a bond issue in November. The cost to residents and time needed to build more schools have not been determined.

        School and planning officials unveiled three options Wednesday. They are:

        • Build a high school for grades 9-12 and use the current high school for about 1,500 students in grades 7-8. A second phase calls for a new elementary school for pre-kindergarten through third grade and expanding the high school. Estimated cost: $78 million to $81 million.

        • Reconfigure existing facilities and build two schools for grades 4-6. A second phase would involve a new elementary for grades 3-5, for 1,200 students. The second phase also includes an addition at the high school to increase capacity to about 2,500 students. Estimated cost: $63 million to $67 million.

        • Reconfigure all grade levels and construct a high school for grades 8-12 with a capacity of 1,800 students. The current high school also would be used for students in grades 8-12. A new intermediate school for grades 3-5 and a new middle school for grades 6-8 also would be built. At that point, the high school would change to grades 9-12.Estimated cost: $73 million to $76 million.

        Some residents Wednesday said they think building a second high school may disrupt the sense of community in Mason.

        “You've got all your friends, you're splitting them up when they're all together,” said Jason Lamping, 14, an eighth-grader at Mason Middle School.

        Resident Linda Waymoth said a second high school might divide the community along economic lines and create rivalries within the district.

        Dan Mueller, a high school science teacher, said a larger high school likely would increase opportunities for students. “I think creating a sense of community for students is important,” Mr. Mueller said.

       



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