In December, the Mason City School Board approved a resolution to keep our district in the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission’s Expedited Local Partnership program. This resolution confirmed the district’s intention to use Expedited Local Partnership Credit, and to share how Mason anticipates using those funds.
“When we were growing by hundreds of students each year, our board adopted a just-in-time philosophy for adding new schools just when they were needed. Now, as enrollment stabilizes, we are trying to apply the same principle - so that we match enrollment to school capacity in a fiscally responsible way,” explained Courtney Allen, School Board President.
Learn more about the plan’s scope and financing.
Mason City Schools Enrollment
In 2010-11, Mason educated 11,013 students. Today, the district educates 10,697 students. Some of the things the district uses to project enrollment trends include examining residential economic development and closely monitoring birth rates.
In August 2015, Mason projected enrollment decreases at its elementary schools, and aligned staffing accordingly. The district also projected increases at Mason High School, and consequently adjusted staffing. In response to an unexpected increase of 112 more English Language Learners this school year, the district added 4.5 long-term substitute teachers to support those students, their educators, and their classmates.
This year - for the first time in five years - Mason City Schools actually had a small increase in enrollment. As of February 1, 2016, Mason educates 41 more students than in 2014-15. This increase is more significant because the district anticipated 149 fewer students.
“This is an interesting time in Mason City Schools. We closely monitor our enrollment trends and have seen a predictable decline over the past 5 years. However this year we were surprised by a small increase, which when compared to our forecasts for continued decline, represented some challenges for us,” explained Ronda Johnson, Treasurer.
The fact that enrollment did not decrease in the same way that it has for several years caused class sizes to be higher than projected - and higher than preferred. Mason will use today’s actual enrollment (rather than recent projections of declining enrollment) when developing 2016-17 staffing - which should alleviate some of the pressure.
Where We Were
Following the 2010 levy loss, the Mason City Schools Board and administration committed to a series of cost reductions that included reducing personnel across the district, while prioritizing the classroom. During the 2013-14 school year, the district fulfilled its cost-savings plan commitments by reducing 158 employees over three years, while enrollment remained virtually flat.
Where We’re Headed
Today, there are no more planned cost reductions. That being said, the district remains committed to innovation and fiscal stewardship, and will continually evaluate ways to ensure each student has great learning opportunities. It is fiscally responsible to ensure that the district is staffing its schools for the students who are being educated that year.
As we look toward the future, our schools must:
promote academic excellence and innovation;
be safe, technology-ready, and high-quality;
- operate in a highly efficient manner.