Mason Public Schools Completes Bond Sale Under Budget and Receives Strong Bond Rating

A plus graphic

Standard & Poor’s (S & P) Global Ratings raises district’s rating from ‘A’ to ‘A+’

MASON, MI – Last week, Mason Public Schools successfully completed the sale of Bonds necessary to complete Phase1 of the district’s Capital Improvement Project, as well as received an upgraded rating from Standard & Poor’s (S & P) Global Ratings for building and site bonds.

On Monday, April 16, the district successfully completed the Bond sale of the $34 million budgeted for Phase 1 of the district’s Capital Improvement Project. The district received strong competition for the Bonds, receiving seven bids total. The lowest bidder was UBS Financial Services, which provided a True Interest Cost (TIC) bid of 3.37%. The initial interest estimate submitted in the Bond application to the Department of Treasury was 4.22%. As a result, the actual debt service, which includes principal and interest, for the 2018 Bonds will be less than budgeted. The average millage levied to pay off the debt over the life of the bonds will be reduced, resulting in a savings for taxpayers.

Earlier this month, Standard & Poor’s (S & P) Global Ratings released its Bond rating for the district. S & P has upgraded the school’s Bond rating from an A to an A+. S & P takes many factors into consideration to rate a school district for Bond sales. For Mason, the A+ rating from S & P reflects the district’s positive operating performance, stable enrollment and growth of available reserves from 7.2% in fiscal 2014 to 12.7% in fiscal 2017.

“Phase 1 of the Capital Improvement Project has gotten off to a strong start with the announcement of a favorable bond rating as well as a lower-than-budgeted interest rate,” said Ronald Drzewicki, Ed.S., Superintendent of Mason Public Schools. “The district has been conservative and ambitious with the initial steps and timelines for the project. With this official kick-off, we can now move forward to design and construction all while keeping the end goal in mind – student success.”

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Mason Public Schools Auctions Surplus Items

looking down school hallway

Mason Public Schools has partnered with Sheridan Realty & Auction Co. to auction items owned by the district.

MASON, MI – The auction is currently open and will end at 1PM on April 5, 2018. The items, which currently are being housed in the district-owned pole barn are available for the community to purchase through the auction. The pole barn will be sold through a bid process which is currently underway.

After the successful passing of the $69.7 million bond proposal in November 2017, the district has been working on site and building plans as part of the Capital Improvements that will take place. The Harvey Education Center, which will be renovated to house Mason Public Schools Child Development Services and kindergarten programs beginning in fall 2019, is the first to undergo design and construction. The pole barn and contents are located adjacent to the Harvey Education Center and need to be removed to continue with the Capital Improvement plans.

To bid on the auction items, visit https://www.sheridanauctionservice.com/project/details/31053/.

If you have any questions about the auction, please contact Doug Sheridan, Sheridan Realty & Auction Co. at doug@sheridanauctionservice.com or 517.676.9800.

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Mason Public Schools’ Board Approves Over $770,000 in Bids for Technology Infrastructure Improvements

Student using computer at school media center

Capital improvements to network, wireless and cabling systems will begin in late Spring following the approval of a $69.7M bond proposal in November 2017

MASON, MI – At the Mason Public Schools Board of Education meeting on Monday evening, the Board approved bids for technology infrastructure improvements with installation to begin in late Spring. The Board of Education approved contracts totaling $773,193.06. The technology contracts will be with Delta Network Services in the amount of $588,384.06 for network, wireless and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) improvements, Universal Cabling System in the amount of $48,184.00 for fiber optic cabling and Datacom Group in the amount of $136,625.00 for low voltage cabling.

Technology improvements will include replacing switch infrastructure in each building, some if which is 14 years old. Wireless Internet access will be significantly improved by increasing access points from 112 to 370. Backup batteries will be installed in each building to provide at least one hour of power to phones in case of a power outage.
In Fall 2017, the Dart Foundation and Mason Public Schools Foundation awarded Mason Public Schools $840,000 in grant dollars to purchase more than 3,200 Chromebooks for classroom use. So far, the district has purchased and distributed 1,700 Chromebooks and will be purchasing the remaining Chromebooks over Summer 2018. That will bring the current count of Chromebooks available for student use to 2,580 total.

Additionally, the district has applied for reimbursement of technology infrastructure expenses through the federal E-rate reimbursement program. This program allows eligible schools to identify needs and submit requests for competitive bids to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The specific reimbursement figures are not currently available, but could be 60% of the total infrastructure cost. Access to this program is not guaranteed each year due to potential federal budget constraints.

Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki said, “It is important for Mason Public Schools to continue to be good financial stewards of community resources. This opportunity for reimbursement from the federal government may not be available in the future, so it was important for us to meet all E-rate deadlines to be eligible for rebates.”

Specific details regarding the improvements to district technology infrastructure are available on the Mason Public Schools website.

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Mason Public Schools Forms Capital Improvement Committee

kids getting out of school for the day

Monthly Meetings Scheduled to Share Plans With the Community

MASON, MI – Mason Public Schools has formed a Capital Improvement Committee (CIC) to oversee the details of the capital improvement project underway after the passage of the $69.7 million bond proposal in November 2017. The first meeting was held February 19, 2018.

Board President, Kurt Creamer, appointed Christopher Mumby (Committee Chair), Liz Evans and Steve Duane to the CIC. The CIC will meet monthly with the superintendent, chief financial officer, facility director, architect, construction manager, technology director and owner’s representative to discuss the progress of the Mason Public Schools bond projects and to prepare information for the full Board of Education.

At the first meeting, the CIC received updates on the Harvey Education Center (HEC) schematic design, high school weight room renovation, technology infrastructure and equipment, the removal of the pole barn at the HEC and the disposal of excess district equipment. The high school weight room renovation will include new weight and exercise equipment, a fresh coat of paint, new flooring and a new drinking fountain. Surplus equipment is being gathered from across the district and Sheridan Realty and Auction Co. will host an online auction to sell old and excess equipment.

The CIC will meet on the fourth Thursday of each month, and the public is welcome to attend all meetings to stay informed on the progress of the bond proposal projects. “Community members are encouraged to attend the monthly CIC meetings. The information shared and discussed will be important as we move through the project,” stated MPS Superintendent, Ron Drzewicki.
As more details are finalized, information will be shared on the Mason Public Schools website. The next CIC meeting is on Thursday, March 22, at 6 pm.

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City of Mason and Mason Public Schools Recognize YesMason!

March 6, 2018 declared YesMason! Day

MASON, MI – The passing of the Mason Public Schools Bond proposal will build stronger, smarter, safer Mason Public Schools. The City of Mason and the Mason School Board both believe in strong schools and know that outstanding schools build outstanding communities. At a joint recognition ceremony on February 12, The City declared March 6, 2018 YesMason! Day.

Ensuring that the community fully understands the components of any bond proposal is a large undertaking. Reaching those who do not have students in schools can often be the most challenging part of any bond campaign. The YesMason! team spent countless volunteer hours developing materials, attending events to share information and promoting community forums to their neighbors. In addition, nearly every weekend, and some weekdays, groups went door-to-door explaining the needs of Mason Public Schools and how the bond proposal will bring needed improvements that support student learning.

Kurt Creamer, Mason Public Schools Board President shared, “Our volunteers really made the difference in the campaign to support a stronger, smarter, safer Mason Public Schools. We felt it was necessary to recognize the YesMason! team for the countless hours they put in to support our children and our community.”

The proclamation stated “This group of highly dedicated and skilled community members pulled together to form an advocacy committee to promote the passage of the Mason Public Schools’ $69.7 million bond proposal on November 7, 2017, organizing a variety of activities designed to inform voters about the bond election and advocating for bond passage, including door-to-door campaigning, event planning, yard signs, and direct mail to promote a positive message about the proposal.”

On November 7, 2017, Mason residents passed a $69.7 million bond proposal to build a stronger, smarter, safer Mason Public Schools. The proposal includes significant improvements to safety and security, technology, site circulation, HVAC and mechanical and facility upgrades at all of the district’s buildings as well as the purchase of new buses.

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Proposal Moves Mason Public Schools Administration to City Hall

Shared resources, reduced costs a benefit to all

MASON, MI – The City of Mason has proposed an exciting opportunity to Mason Public Schools (MPS) to house the district’s administrative offices at Mason City Hall. This comes as MPS begins the design process of the first phase of the Capital Improvement Project after the successful passage of the November 2017 bond proposal.

Putting the municipalities together – school district and city government – could potentially create some shared services benefiting the entire community. Deb Stuart, Mason City Manager, states, “Sharing our space with our local school district administration has benefits. As a community, we are more connected and we hope to find ways to share resources. In addition, fully utilizing City Hall reduces overall costs to taxpayers and the residents of Mason.”

This move makes sense for the district as space is limited at the Harvey Education Center (HEC), which is in the first phase of renovation. The opportunity to move the MPS administration to Mason City Hall would improve the design of the building and maximize value. The move would further enhance HEC as an Early Childhood/Kindergarten facility by:

  • Improving the flow of traffic through the building for 3-6 year olds
  • Increasing safety and security by improving vehicle traffic flow, including pick up and drop off
  • Reducing visitors to the building
  • Increasing ease of parent and staff access to building programs
  • Increasing green space, play space and parking at the HEC
  • Improving programming options and shared resources
  • Minimizing the building footprint

Melissa Netzel, HEC Design Team Chair, states, “We are looking to create an exceptional learning environment at the Harvey Education Center. From both a safety and programming flow, moving administration out of the building was the best solution for our students.”

More importantly, the proposed design at the Harvey Education Center makes a purposeful connection between early childhood education and Kindergarten. Studies show that students who attend high quality early childhood programs have a higher likelihood of success. Focusing on an early childhood and Kindergarten learning environment will help students be prepared for first grade. Creating this shared educational space improves programming options and resources.

Ronald Drzewicki, Mason Public Schools Superintendent, adds, “The possibility of a lease at city hall was discussed independently by the Mason Board of Education and City Council last fall. No terms were agreed to at that time. After our HEC design team began looking at available space for renovations with the current location of administration, the building footprint would be large, and there would be minimal green space, play space and parking. When the design team looked at options without administration, this made more sense as it provided a better learning environment for our students. We look forward to working with the City of Mason. This is a great opportunity for MPS to enhance the early learning environment for our students.”

The move of the Mason Public Schools Administrative offices to Mason City Hall is tentatively planned for the summer of 2018.

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Mason Public Schools Harvey Education Center Building Renovation Committee Begins Meeting and Putting Together a Plan

HEC Renovation Committee Member photo

After a successful Bond Proposal in November, the committee begins prioritizing and planning

MASON, MI – On November 7, 2017 the $69.7 million Mason Public Schools Bond Proposal was approved by the community. The bond proposal will support a stronger, smarter, safer Mason Public Schools through needed building renovations and expansions, as well as technology and safety improvements to all of the school buildings.

The district plans to sell the first series of bonds in the spring of 2018 and begin the first series of improvements beginning in late summer 2018. In order to best plan for the next eight years of improvements, committees made up of cross-functional experts are being assembled.

The first committee to meet and begin the planning process is the Harvey Education Center Building Design Team which met on December 5. The committee consists of members from the district with a background in early childhood education as well as construction and design experts. The committee is led by Chair, Melissa Netzel, Instructional Support teacher and includes the following representatives from the District: Ronald Drzewicki, Superintendent; Kevin Doty, Director of Operations; Shana Barnum, Principal of Alaiedon Elementary; Mike Prelesnik, Principal of North Aurelius Elementary; Lisa Harless, kindergarten teacher at Alaiedon Elementary; Shelby Brubaker, kindergarten teacher at North Aurelius; Amy McVaugh, kindergarten teacher at Steele Elementary; Erik Cargill, Interim Child Development Center Director; Amber Perkins, Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teacher at the Harvey Education Center and Suzie West, Great Start Readiness Preschool (GSRP) teacher at the Harvey Education Center.

Once the plans have been developed for the Harvey Education Center and more building design committees are created, we will share this information with our community. The schedule for Mason Public Schools Board of Education meetings as well as details about the bond, are available on the Mason Public Schools website.

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Mason Voters Pass $69.7 Million Bond Proposal in November 2017 Election

Students walking into school building

Building a Stronger, Smarter, Safer Mason Public Schools

MASON, MI – Thanks to residents, voters and the “Yes Mason!” committee, Mason Public Schools will have the funding to make major facilities improvements; technology and learning environment upgrades; and safety and security updates to all schools beginning Spring 2018 and extending through 2026.

The November 2017 bond proposal was a revised version of the May 2016 proposal that did not pass. The District formed a School Study Committee (SSC) to conduct research among the community. The SSC met 17 times over 10 months (a total of 1,170 hours combined) and consisted of 30 staff, school board and community members. The result was revised proposal on the November 2017 ballot that better met the expectations of the community while continuing to meet the immediate needs of the school.

The November 2017 election saw a voter turnout increase of 4% and “Yes” vote increase of 42% from May 2016, demonstrating the community’s enthusiasm for the revised bond proposal.

“The Mason community has given the students in our district an incredible opportunity by supporting this bond proposal,” says Ron Drzewicki, Mason Public Schools Superintendent. “It’s our responsibility and pleasure to keep everyone informed of the impact their investment is making, both in terms of the physical changes to the buildings and the educational outcomes of our students.”

Building Stronger Schools

With the approval of this bond proposal, Mason Public Schools will receive the funding to:

  • Make critical upgrades to the mechanical electrical and plumbing systems in all schools
  • Upgrade and expand outdated, undersized and makeshift learning spaces
  • Add multi-purpose rooms that separate P.E. and large group instruction from the elementary cafeterias
  • Improve accessibility for all students at all schools

Building Smarter Schools

With the approval of this bond proposal, Mason Public Schools will receive the funding to:

  • Update technology infrastructure to maximize connectivity, access and learning
  • Upgrade and renovate classrooms to support all teaching and learning styles
  • Create an age-appropriate leaning environment for pre-K/kindergarten students

Building Safer Schools

With the approval of this bond proposal, Mason Public Schools will receive the funding to:

  • Replace the aging school bus fleet
  • Improve the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic
  • Implement secure building entry throughout the District.

The bond will be issued in three phases, with the first spanning 2018-2021. Phase 1 will include:

  • Bus purchases in Summer 2018
  • High school and middle school furniture and equipment updates
  • Technology, device and infrastructure upgrades in late Spring 2018
  • Construction on the Harvey Education Center, Alaideon Elementary and North Aurelius Elementary beginning Spring 2019 – Fall 2020.

Phase 2 (beginning in 2021) and Phase 3 (beginning in 2023) bring similar projects to the other schools throughout the District.

Mason residents can stay current on capital improvement/bond proposal projects by visiting the “Newsroom” section of bondprojects.masonk12.net.

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