Bond at Work: MPS’s Harvey Education Center Groundbreaking is August 29

HEC Groundbreaking

MASON, MI – The first major project funded by the Mason Public Schools’ $69.7 million bond is underway, and the entire Mason community is invited to celebrate. Groundbreaking for the Harvey Education Center will be held on August 29, 2018 beginning at 5 pm, with the formal groundbreaking ceremony taking place at 5:30 pm.

“Mason is a wonderful community with a strong tradition of academic excellence,” says Ron Drzewicki, Superintendent of Mason Public Schools. “Thanks to the community’s support of this bond, we will continue that tradition and build a stronger, smarter, safer school district, beginning with the Harvey Education Center.”

The Harvey Education Center groundbreaking event marks the beginning of an exciting new era for Mason Public Schools. It is the first major project resulting from the successful passage of the $69.7 million bond proposal – the largest in District history. New additions will create an age-appropriate learning environment for Mason’s pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. Renovations will include critical upgrades to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in the building.

The groundbreaking event is free and open to the entire Mason community. Many local sponsors are generously supporting this event, including A&W, Jasen Filipiak, Mason Optimist Club, Mason Rail Time Adventures and Sheridan Realty & Auction Co. To celebrate the momentous occasion, the event will feature bounce houses, a fun house, carnival rides, delicious food and more. The Harvey Education Center is located at 400 S. Cedar Street, Mason, MI 48854.

The November 2017 bond proposal provides funds for facilities improvements, technology upgrades and safety enhancements across the District. Each of these capital improvement projects is designed to improve the education provided by Mason Public Schools. This includes making the spaces in the schools better suited for teaching and learning, updating technology infrastructure to maximize connectivity and access, and securing the schools for the safety of students and staff. Projects began in 2018 and will continue through 2026.

For updates on the bond project progress, visit http://bondprojects.masonk12.net/.

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Phase 1 New Buses have Arrived

MPS Buses

This week, Mason Public Schools received 5 new buses that were purchased using dollars from Phase 1 of the Capital Improvement Project. These buses are International gasoline buses. Each of these new buses will have a new camera installed before they begin their routes. The district is currently working on the routing plans and bus assignments. Students should check their bus cards when they receive it in the mail to see which bus and route they will be on before school begins.

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Mason Public Schools and the City of Mason Collaborate on Shared Office Space

Mason Public Schools (MPS) and the City of Mason have demonstrated true regional cooperation by entering into a partnership to share resources and office space. MPS has recently moved its administrative staff into offices within Mason City Hall on 201 West Ash Street. This partnership is unique to the mid-Michigan area. City and school district administration are excited about the opportunities and possibilities this arrangement will create.

City Hall was built for more employees than the City anticipates having in the next 10-15 years.  Better utilization of City Hall will maximize space and reduce overhead cost, while ensuring more tax dollars serve the residents of Mason and the students of Mason Public Schools. Collaborating with joint office space demonstrates a commitment from both parties to use tax payer dollars efficiently and create a positive environment in Mason. Both organizations are now able to share resources including conference rooms, parking lots, utilities, etc. Parents and community members will have easy access to school administration and city services with both organizations located under one roof.

The partnership makes fiscal and operational sense for both organizations. By relocating MPS administration, it allows for renovations and new construction to begin at the Harvey Education Center (HEC). Additionally, it will allow the HEC to better serve Mason students as an early childhood and kindergarten building when construction is complete.

“After passing the bond last fall, the Board of Education decided it made sense to move the administrative offices out of the Harvey Education Center to make room for additional programming for Mason’s youngest students. Mason City Manager, Deb Stuart and Mason City Council worked hard to come up with a plan to make this collaboration work for both organizations. The City of Mason staff has been a great partner to us and we look forward to finding other ways to maximize our resources,” said Ronald Drzewicki, Ed.S., Superintendent, Mason Public Schools.

The City of Mason and MPS agreed to a 10-year lease for MPS to be located within City Hall.

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HEC Design now in final stages

The Harvey Education Center design is now in the final stages.  The HEC design team will be pulled together for one last meeting to provide input on finishes.  The committee will look at product types such as rubber, vinyl, linoleum, etc. as options for a resilient surface in the classrooms. We will also look at color selections for wall and trim paint, carpet options, rubber base colors and laminate colors.  The schedule is to have bid documents out by July 6th and due to the district on August 1st.  Ground breaking is scheduled for mid to late August.

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AV Upgrades will begin this summer

The district is carefully reviewing classroom AV equipment for future installation.  As a district, we want to match the new classroom technology to our instructional goals and objectives.  We plan for the HEC, high school and  middle school classrooms to be upgraded in the summer of 2019.  North Aurelius and Alaiedon in the summer of 2020 and Steele in Phase 2.

Over the summer, technology improvements ($770,000+) will include replacing switch infrastructure in each building which is currently up to 14 years old. Wireless connectivity will be significantly improved across the district.  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 addition, the computer labs at the elementary schools and middle schools will be re-purposed, the business classes at the high school will be upgraded, and some PA systems will be improved.

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Soil Borings will begin at Harvey Education Center

Development work will be underway at the Harvey Education Center this week. In order to test the soil surrounding the building prior to the development work beginning, soil borings will be done. This is an important step in learning about the makeup of the soil surrounding the building so the architects and engineers can put together a plan for site development. #strongersmartersafer

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Bond Projects: Phase 1 Overview

MPS Bond Phase 1 Design Process

Phase 1 of the Capital Improvement Project is fully underway with various committees forming, meeting and making final recommendations to the Capital Improvement Committee. Based on the initial plans for Phase 1, the timeline will be as follows:

May 2018 – Bond Sale Complete

August 2018 – Harvey Education Center Groundbreaking

December 2018 – Construction Bidding Process Begins for North Aurelius Elementary & Alaiedon Elementary

Spring 2019 – North Aurelius Elementary & Alaiedon Elementary Groundbreaking

August 2019 – Harvey Education Center Complete

August 2020 – North Aurelius Elementary & Alaiedon Elementary Complete

Specific information about groundbreakings and building completion will be shared with the community as plans are finalized.

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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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