State budget cuts impact Mason High School funding

By Micaela Colonna
Mason Times staff writer

Listen to an audio report.

The 2008 recession and state funding cuts have meant losses in almost all areas of Mason Public Schools. This has meant some trimming and searches for new revenue in many departments including academic, athletic, arts and personnel. Custodial groups have taken hourly wage cuts to prevent privatization, administrative and faculty positions were eliminated and district-funded sports have become self-funded. Shelbi Frayer, executive director of business and finance at Mason Public Schools, said the changes are a result of the decrease in state funding.

Mason tennis team

The Mason Varsity Tennis team practices indoors on a rainy school afternoon. They have experienced the impact of a decreased budget in the form of equipment cuts.

“We wouldn’t have to make such drastic changes such as losing HR if we didn’t have a cut in funding,” said Frayer. “We would definitely have a lot more programming for students, buses, etc. You learn to be more frugal and live without.”

With the assistance of teachers, Principal Lance Delbridge of Mason High School allocates funds allotted by the Mason Board of Education. Frayer said the focus is primarily on academics. If extracurricular activities such as sports want to expand, they have to do it on their own, as the district does not plan to add money to these budgets.

Greg Lattig, district athletic director of Mason High School, said 500 students at the high school play sports. He said the athletics department has had budget cuts of more than $100,000 over the past five years.

“We’ve cut coaching staff, lower-level programs, programs at the middle school, and some things have become self-funded,” said Lattig. “We’ve significantly reduced our equipment budget and eliminated two-way transportation.”
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New summer program to help students transition to high school

By Brian Bobal
Mason Times staff writer

Teaches Dean Thompson (left) and Jeremy Mills (right) discuss the Bridge Program at the April 21 school board meeting.

Teaches Dean Thompson (left) and Jeremy Mills (right) discuss the Bridge Program at the April 21 school board meeting.

This summer, a new academic program will start under the umbrella of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support called the Bridge Program. The program will help ease the transition for some students as they leave middle school and move up to high school.

Mason Public School Superintendent Mark Dillingham brought up the concept for the program.

“An outcome that I really wanted from the Bridge Program is for identified students to have a familiar face that they know, and can relate to at both the middle school and high school, while still being in 8th grade,” said Dillingham. “Also, I wanted these students to become familiar with the expectations of their new high school learning environment, and what better way than to spend a few weeks at the high school getting the lay of the land before school starts for their freshman year.” Continue reading

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Mason grocery store with sparkling ambience

Inside Kean’s grocery store in downtown Mason, lies is a jewelry shop filled with many unique pieces of homemade jewelry for all occasions. <Listen to the story>

It all started when Margaret Ross was eight years old. Even though she described herself as being a tomboy at a young age, she found her passion making jewelry, and is still doing it over 20 years later.

Photo of Margaret Ross

It wasn’t until four years ago however, that Margaret decided to market her business in the downtown Mason area, located right in the back of a family owned business known as Kean’s, a local store that has been in business for 85 years.

Putting her business in the back of Kean’s is what attracts a lot of Margaret’s customers into the store. Margaret says she often times jokes that she is like shopping for the milk and eggs when you’re at the grocery store, since her shop is located in the back.

Photo of Margaret Ross (1)

You wont find Margaret Ross’s jewelry at just any retail store, because all of the jewelry sold in her shop is personally handmade. As a musical artist in the local area, Sarah Geyer said she was right away attracted to the jewelry shop, expressing admiration to the background of how this jewelry is made.

Photo of Margaret Ross (2)

Even though Margaret lives in DeWitt, she still enjoys having her store in downtown Mason.

She even describes why her jewelry stop adds a little uniqueness to the downtown area.

 

 

 

 

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Arrests are down, police approval is up in Mason

By Brian Bobal
Mason Times staff writer

photo (66)Over the past decade, arrests have gone down in Mason.

Arrests for driving under the influence are down from 41 to 17 in 2004 and 2013 respectively. Arrests involving drug offenses are down to four in 2013 compared to 30 in 2004. Finally, in 2013, arrests for retail fraud totalled 12. This is down 18 counts from 2004 when total arrests were 30.

Chief John Stressman attributes this to a few things.

“One is we have a retention issue and we’ve been short staffed. I don’t think we’ve been at full strength for the last two years,” said Stressman, who has been chief since 2004. “There is a lot of movement between police departments. Officers go from one place to the other looking for something better, or a better fit for them.” Continue reading

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High school students redeem selves with lunch credit recovery

By Beth Waldon
Mason Times staff writer

Mason High School has recently added a Multi-Tiered System of Supports to help improve students’ academic performance.

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Trustee Laura Cheney questions the teacher consultants.

Matthew Stuard, district administrator for academic success, said at the April 21 board meeting that school improvement committees were formed in September.

Dean Thompson, a math teacher at Mason High School and Jeremy Mills, an English teacher at Mason High School, who are also teacher consultants, attended the April 21 school board meeting with Stuard to present their progress and goals as they move forward with student improvement.

Some ways Mason High School has initiated student improvement is through:

  • a students of the month breakfast, where students are recognized for their outstanding performance,

  • the Bulldog Brilliance Help Lab, where members of the National Honors Society assist students who need additional help with school work,

  • a ACT test prep crash course, which prepares students for the ACT

,Stuard said that the Bulldog Brilliance Help Lab was planned in accordance to the late bus system, so students who take the bus home can still stay after school for extra help.

Thompson added that students have the option to grab frozen drinks from the cafeteria during the study time, so they are given an incentive to attend the help lab.

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Common Core means excitement, anxiety in schools

By Beth Waldon
Mason Times staff writer

Students in Mason Public Schools will be assessed based on the Common Core in the spring of 2015.

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The Common Core has been adopted by most states in the U.S.
http://www.corestandards.org/standards-in-your-state/

The state of Michigan adopted the Common Core in 2010. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the Common Core standards are state standards that provide a consistent set of career and college-readiness expectations for students across the country. Since then, Mason Public schools “have prepared and are continuing to prepare students based on the Common Core standards,” said Executive Director of Curriculum Chris Kamenski.

According to Kamenski, Mason Public Schools partnered with East Lansing Public Schools in January and started a process of rewriting the mathematics program so that it is compatible with the Common Core.

“We’re taking everyday math and we’re cutting it apart to line up with the common core,” Kamenski said. Kamenski added that now, currency is taught in kindergarten, but at that age, students are too young to fully grasp the concept. “Kindergarteners can understand what a quarter is, but counting money is too difficult,” Kamenski said. The school system decided to follow the common core and postpone the currency lesson until the second grade.

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$2.1 million Ash Street project undergo renovations this May

By Graciella Oteto
Mason Times staff writer

Built in the 1800s, the buildings located at 124 and 140 E. Ash St. are some of the oldest buildings in Mason, undergoing renovations as soon as May.

The two buildings, which stand next to each other, are to have 10 single-bedroom apartments. One building will have residential on the second floor, and residential and office space on the third floor, another building will have two floors, plus both buildings will have an elevator. The buildings are also to have offices on the first floors.

Building to be renovated on E. Ash Street

Building to be renovated on E. Ash Street

“Took four years to get here, and in about 12 months the project is set to be finished,” said Bruce Johnston, Ingham County Housing Commission director. Because the population has grown in Mason, the apartments are certainly a great addition to downtown, providing access to downtown shops, Johnston added.

Johnston said this means that one of the most deteriorated buildings in Mason will become the largest renovation project in the downtown area.

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Prescription drug abuse: The new face of addiction

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

“It can happen to anyone. I’ve seen it a lot,” Aaron Emerson said. Unsuspecting teens are becoming addicted to prescription pills, and moving on to more dangerous drugs.

It’s in our medicine cabinets and prescribed by doctors. Prescription drugs, such as opioids, are available for helping people overcome pain and other medical issues, yet sometimes lead people down an addictive road.

Aaron Emerson, a 22-year-old Mason resident, was a sophomore in high school when he began experimenting with drugs. He had a bright future with friends by his side, and a loving family surrounding him.

Feeling the need to fill a hole in his life, Emerson said he smoked marijuana, took prescription painkillers, and eventually became addicted to heroin. Continue reading

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Mason’s population is growing and changing

By Amanda Cowherd
Mason Times staff writer

Mason’s population increased almost 23 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the census, and growth continues. By 2020, there will be 10,000 people living in Mason, compared to the 8,252 recorded in the last census, predicted Chamber of Commerce Director Douglas Klein.

Klein said that Dart Container Corporation’s acquisition of Solo Cup Company in 2012 has brought the largest influx of residents—especially to the western part of Mason. Dart built a large warehouse in the past six months and will finish building a new administration building by the end of the summer. Klein said Dart hired 300 employees for its Mason facilities.

Klein said the growing population is leading to an increased need for products and services.

Mason's population increased from 2000 to 2010, and the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce projected that it will continue to grow into 2020.

Mason’s population increased from 2000 to 2010, and the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce projected that it will continue to grow into 2020.

“We’ve had a lot of businesses pop up that we hadn’t had before,” Klein said.

On East Ash Street, buildings are being reconstructed and repurposed. Businesses will move in on the first floor, with apartments and meeting rooms above.

To cater to the aging boomers, massage therapists, physical therapists and chiropractors are coming to Mason. Beltone, a hearing aid center, is moving onto East Maple Street in downtown Mason to fulfill senior citizens’ demand.

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