Sunday, September 21, 2003

Mason schools to seek bond issue

District to ask voters for money to finance construction

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Despite opening a new $72 million high school just over a year ago, Mason schools will soon be overflowing with younger students. School officials are turning to residents - and their pocketbooks - for help.

Voters in this booming Warren County school district can expect to see a bond issue in March to help pay for the construction of more schools as new elementary students flood the district's schools.

Nearly 700 new students - greater than the size of the entire Lockland district and more than half the size of Deer Park and Reading school systems - enrolled in Mason this year, say school officials.

Mason officials are holding two public forums next month - Oct. 2 and Oct. 27, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Mason High School - to get ideas from residents about the needs for the district, which now enrolls 8,669, to accommodate the continued growth.

"It is important that people come out and give us their input," said Mason Superintendent Kevin Bright. "Their input will guide decisions on what the next new building in our district will look like. The district continues to have burgeoning growth - seven or more consecutive years of 650-student-a-year growth - and our elementary schools are crowded."

District enrollment projections have more than 11,200 students at Mason in five years and 12,400 in a decade.

School officials have not determined the size of the bond issue, which must be approved by the board of education by Dec. 18 to qualify for the March ballot. Officials said the bond would likely not involve any increase in current property taxes, but instead ask voters to renew some school tax millage they are already paying.

The last new elementary facility built in the district was built in 1998, giving Mason four facilities that are either partially or entirely devoted to elementary aged students.

Tom Miller, a co-chair for the Mason Steering Committee, said the community forums "offer residents the chance to steer the direction the school system takes."


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