As the day begins at North Aurelius Elementary, first through fifth grade students enter and make their way to their classrooms. Seemingly unknown to them, extensive construction of their school ensues just around the corner.
“Right now, one part of the school is closed down, with a fire wall and all of the construction is going on,” North Aurelius Elementary Principal Michael Prelesnik said. “And then the rest of the school, we’re kind of crammed into the other spaces and we’re making it work.”
In November 2017, Mason residents approved a proposal designating more than $69 million for Mason Public Schools. Around $12 million was allocated to North Aurelius Elementary for renovations, according to Mason Public Schools Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki.
Construction at North Aurelius Elementary began in June 2019, Prelesnik said. Improvements have been completed in sections so classes can remain in session. So far, the main hallway has been renovated with new flooring, lighting, ceilings, classroom cabinets, bathrooms and lockers.
Currently, construction of a more secure front entrance, gymnasium and parking area is taking place and will conclude this spring. Prelesnik said the school has had issues with overcrowding and he looks forward to the additional space.
Despite the construction, staff and students continue as usual with accommodations such as two portable classrooms outside the building, a gymnasium that doubles as a cafeteria, and teachers of non-core subjects, such as music, use carts.
Physical Education teacher Dain Ryckman said he’s looking forward to the new gymnasium.
“It’s going to be leaps and bounds above for lots of things at the school as far as assemblies and things like that,” Ryckman said. “And then the community will be able to use it, I’m sure.”
Ryckman said he has to end class between 11:25 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day for the current gymnasium to be set up as a cafeteria. He also said the new room, which will be double the size of the current one, will allow for more fast-paced games, such as tag, which cannot be played safely in the current space.
After the current section is finished, construction will begin on the library, the hallway leading to it and any other final improvements.
When renovations complete, Drzewicki said, students, staff and parents will be able to use additional classroom space, improved lighting and technology features, better WiFi access, voice enhancement systems, a new gymnasium, greater parking space for parents and traffic flow, a secure entry vestibule and improved playground equipment.
“One major benefit is our HVAC systems. We will now have air conditioning building wide there, which we did not have before,” Drzewicki said. “…It’ll provide a much more comfortable learning environment from a climate control perspective.”
Construction will be finished before the 2020-21 school year begins, Drzewicki said.
“It’s going to be beautiful for the kids,” Prelesnik said.