Andrea Forero | Staff Writer
Natasha Jha | Staff Writer
Meredith Turner | Staff Writer
Summer 2017 will kick off with a district remodel to help the growth of Mason students and to provide flexibility for the coming years.
The remodel will begin with the district’s elementary schools, followed by Mason Middle School. Students will be moved to other district buildings while the project is in progress. Mason City Schools (MCS) is working towards making the district a better place to learn by creating safe, technology-ready, innovative learning spaces and fixing structural components such as the AC system, pipe works, and roofing.
MCS took part in a district funding program which will help fund the project. The funds came from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, funded by state tobacco settlement funds. MCS is required to begin using the money from the funds before this coming spring or else they will lose the state funding.
Public Information Officer Tracey Carson said the building renovations have been part of a facility plan for many years and that the district is finally ready to move forward with the plan.
“This wasn’t new,” Carson said. “We had a facility plan since the early 2000s. We were part of this program all along, but in 2012, we started having community discussions about what was the best plan about moving forward. The middle school will be a total renovation. Things like our HVAC system, which is the heating and air conditioning, need [to be] completely replaced.”
Although renovations will require temporarily moving to another building, Principal Tonya McCall embraces the opportunity to make improvements that will benefit everyone.
“I would love to figure out how we can enlarge the cafeteria, so that we can have three lunches instead of four lunches,” McCall said. “We know that it’s going to be inconvenient for folks, for hopefully one year, as we transition to something new. Now that we’re moving and have an actual timeline of when (the renovation) is going to take place, we’re even more excited about the possibilities.”
Seventh grade science teacher Elizabeth Mills said she wants to include renewable features as part of the school rebuild.
“Of course it would be amazing to have some type of solar panels or some type of renewable energy,” Mills said. “I know it’s a huge undertaking and probably not going to happen in the next two years, but I do think it would be nice to start small, possibly using rain barrels in court yard areas then to water flower beds, garden spaces and our grass areas. As a science teacher I feel that using reusable resources and green ideas are crucial at this time and age.”
McCall said that these renovations will help the school do things that were impossible before, such as having spaces that allow students and teachers to collaborate and learn together.
“Where are spaces that we can have larger numbers of students at one time so we can have some more flexible groupings?” McCall said. “If two teachers want to work on something together, they can take their kids to this space to be able to do it. It’s not just about having a nice looking classroom; it’s what will that new space allow us to do that we can’t currently do.”
Carson said the renovation will ensure a better future for the Mason students.
“(We) are going to ensure that we have great spaces for our students to go to school in the next 50 years,” Carson said.