December 2019 CommUNITY Connection
Mason Comets Give Back to Community
Our schools are big, but the impact our students, staff & families have is even bigger. It’s the season of giving, but the spirit of giving is in our community every day of the year. We can't wait to see what a difference our Comets will make in 2020!  #MasonCares

MCS Takes Final Step to Place Levy on March Ballot
During its December 10 meeting, the Mason City Schools Board of Education approved the second — and final — resolution necessary to place an operating levy on the March ballot.

It has been 15 years since Mason voters passed an operating levy. 

“We have very carefully controlled costs, listened to taxpayers about what is most important to them, and gone to great lengths to ensure that this levy would have as little financial impact on our community as possible,” said Matt Steele, Board President. “Careful planning and difficult choices have allowed us to maintain excellence without new levy dollars since 2005. But we have reached the point where we cannot maintain the quality that our community and families expect from our high-performing schools without making this very important request to our voters.”

Board members unanimously passed the resolution to place a 9.96-mill phased-in operating levy before voters on March 17, 2020. In January 2021, 4.71 mills will go into effect, followed by 5.25 mills in 2022. 

Read more information on the March Levy.
130 MCS Families have Brighter Holiday Thanks to Mason Cares, Joshua's Place
Over 100 Mason City Schools families (286 children) had a brighter holiday thanks to a new district program, Mason Cares, facilitated by local nonprofit  Joshua's Place . Mason City Schools staff, teams, and community members purchased over $30,000 in gifts, gift cards and wrapping supplies for Comet families in need.

"The goal of Mason Cares is to come alongside the school district counselors to help provide holiday gifts to their students in need while supporting the families. We then found sponsors in the community for each of those families," explained Joshua's Place Programs Director Susan Simendinger. "We did not wrap the gifts, but supplied wrapping paper and tape to the guardians. In this way, the parents/guardians could fully participate in the excitement of being able to give holiday gifts to their children. When families arrived the day of pickup, they were treated to some festive snacks and were able to select some extra plush toys and gift wrapping supplies. All of this being done in anonymity and making sure to preserve the family's dignity. Joshua’s Place facilitated the sponsorship of 286 children and 130 families with Mason Cares. Volunteers stepped up to collect funds and gifts, confirmed that families’ needs with accuracy, and bagged gifts and needs by household."

Read more on Mason Cares .
Mason Elementary Continues Tradition of Annual Senior Citizen Holiday Luncheon
After Western Row Elementary closed , school leaders and educators knew one important tradition would live on - the annual Senior Citizen's Holiday Luncheon!
 
On December 19, nearly 100 area senior citizens celebrated the holidays with Mason City Schools students.
 
Mason Elementary School Principal Javaris Powell welcomed honored guests. “Our school’s motto is ‘Kindness Starts with Me.’ Many thanks to you for giving us the ability to practice our school’s motto today, and for the kindness you have shown by being supporters of our community’s children.”
 
Read more on ME's tradition.

Join the CommUNITY Read: Atomic Habits
WHO: Anyone and everyone is invited to join us in our #CommUNITYread - Read alone, grab a friend or a group of friends, colleagues or family

WHAT: Join in a fun, low-pressure #CommUNITY read of Atomic Habits by James Clear

WHEN: Read at your own pace. We encourage local meetups, social media chats (we'll post weekly discussion questions here) and ongoing organic conversation

WHERE: Facebook, Twitter, local meetups, or pop-up discussions. There's nothing formal here - just jump in, read, reflect, and connect. Interested in receiving reflection questions & possible meetup opportunities? Sign up at http://bit.do/AtomicHabitsMason

WHY: ATOMIC HABITS provides a practical step-by-step approach for building desired habits. Whether your goals center on relationships, health, finances, productivity, or other important lifestyle habits, this is the #commUNITYread for you. Let's be intentional about building positive habits personally and as a community!
Action Needed: Ask Legislators to Amend "EdChoice"
Mason City School District funding is at risk and we need your help. Recent changes to Ohio’s EdChoice program would cost Mason about $1.4 million next school year.
 
What is EdChoice and how is Mason impacted?
The EdChoice Scholarship provides a voucher for students whose public school is considered an “underperforming school” by the state. Based on numerous legislative changes in recent years, the definitions of “underperforming” that have been used to identify schools for the 2020-2021 school year are not reflective of the high quality educational experience offered to students. Those definitions use data from the Ohio School Report Card from 2013-2014, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. 
 
Mason earned an “A” on this year’s report card and has 100% of third graders passing the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee. Yet its Early Childhood Center (which educates students in grades PK-2) is deemed underperforming.
 
EdChoice now drains resources from high-performing public schools and diverts scarce education funding to private schools - regardless of a family’s income, or the quality of the school their child may attend. This “choice” removes accountability for public money from locally elected boards of education.
 
What is the amount of the EdChoice Scholarship?
$4,650 for students in grades K-8 and $6,000 for grades 9-12 for the 2020-2021 school year. Interestingly, while the state pulls this amount from the district’s local funding, the state only gives Mason $3,300 in funding per student each year. 
 
MCS Guest & Volunteer Process Changing
Safety is always top of mind in Mason City Schools. In an effort to create an environment that is both safe and inviting, beginning second semester there will be changes to the process for guests and volunteers after consultation with the City of Mason Campus Safety Team and Safe & Inviting Schools Council.  

Please review our new process
Growing a Culture of Learning in MCS
Mason City Schools teachers know that feedback is an essential process to learning.  "We receive feedback every day as we navigate through the journey of life. This feedback helps us to chart our course and clarify our direction," explains  Krissy Hufnagel , Learning Experience Supervisor.

In late November, teachers in Mason City Schools Personalized Learning Cohorts participated in feedback labs alongside Personalized Learning Expert,  Allison Zmuda .  The purpose of this time was to deepen teacher understanding of the practice of Personalized Learning. Teachers presented an idea to their peers, requesting specific feedback to grow the potential of that idea into a powerful learning experience for students. Not only did this day result in the creation of powerful learning moments for teachers and students alike, but it has spurred an ongoing ripple of learning in our classrooms. Teachers are now using the experience they had, to build the ability to give and receive feedback gracefully in their students. "We know that our students are moving into a world in which they will need to be strong communicators and collaborators, and by teaching them the necessity for feedback in learning, we are setting them up for a successful future," said Hufnagel.  

See more on our learning culture.
Looking for MCS District Science Fair Judges
The Mason City Schools Science Fair needs judges for 2020! The Thursday, January 30, 2020 event hosts over 70 middle school and high school students - all eager to interact with and learn from members of our community who are interested in science.
 
If you are interested in volunteering please fill out the survey link below. This quick survey will allow a better pairing of judges. A confirmation letter with directions will be sent by email. 

SCHEDULE FOR MASON CITY SCHOOLS SCIENCE FAIR
Where:  Mason High School
When: January 30
Time:  Please arrive by 3:30pm Judging will begin promptly at 3:45pm
Dress:  Business Casual

Please complete Science Fair Judge Form.
MHS Celebrates 1st Semester Perfect Attendance
MHS celebrated first semester perfect attendance with lunch and twelve students would receive a surprise $100 cash award provided by Greater Cincinnati Credit Union. There were 441 students that had perfect attendance.

Winners are Madeline Brutvan, Jonathan Colson, William Cooper, Justin Cox, Timothy Delaney, Jack Gerus, Maria Habra, Nicholas Lintzenich, Ishan Madan, Brendan Pitcher, Maria Stapleton, and Vanessa Stroud.

We would like to thank Greater Cincinnati Credit Union for lunch and this wonderful gift to our students.
# MasonMoment
Thanks  FOX19  for covering MHS students’ collaboration with Greater Cincinnati peers on a design thinking challenge to coach parents on appropriate Game Day support. See their story .
Team Orion won the best Research award at the First Lego League Regionals to advance to the next level.
ME's Choral Quest represented Mason City Schools at the University of Cincinnati
With Mason City Schools new school hours this year, we thought we'd share the schedule for a 2-hour delay, closing, and early dismissal. Stay warm!

Please read our  Winter Weather Guidelines
Listen  to Listen to our #YourStoryMatters podcast.

Your Story Matters brings Mason's rich culture to life through story. You'll hear stories from staff, students, and community members designed to celebrate diversity, passion, and purpose. Our stories weave our commUNITY together - let's listen and connect!