Thursday, August 05, 1999

Mason plans for another 5,000 pupils in 6 years

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — They know the numbers: an estimated 5,000 new students are expected to enroll in the next six years.

        Mason school board members Wednesday outlined a plan to make room for all of them in the district, which last year was the fastest-growing in Greater Cincinnati in terms of new students.

        The plan calls for a high school for 2,400 students to be opened for the 2002-03 school year. The current high school would be used for 1,500-1,600 seventh- and eighth-graders. Costs and location have not been determined.

        School officials predict the district's enrollment could double by the 2004-05 academic year — to 10,317 students.

        The board plans to put an operating levy and bond issue on the spring ballot to build the high school and a pool.

        “We can't build a brand-new facility and not afford to open it,” board member Dave Lenert said. However, the board wants to delay the tax issues until the spring 2000 ballot.

        “We're just not ready,” Mr. Lenert said.

        A few of the estimated 60 residents at the meeting told board members they were concerned about the size of one large high school.

        But board members said the district is planning more extracurricular activities, a wider variety of sports and academic activities.

        Members said they do not plan to duplicate athletic facilities, such as fields and gyms, because of costs.

        The board was responding to recent recommendations made by the Mason Schools Facility Steering Committee — made up of residents, parents, educators, and business and community leaders.

        The high school is expected to be 548 students beyond its capacity in four years.

        In the past 10 years, enrollment has increased about 110 percent while the school district has built a middle school, elementary school and additions to the high school and two elementary schools.

        In four years, all of the district's facilities will be at or beyond capacity, officials have said.


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