Royalmont Academy moving to Mason Heights

Private Catholic grade school to lease and eventually buy the building from Mason City Schools.

Mason Heights Elementary School has closed, but the building will continue to serve as a school.

Royalmont Academy, a private Catholic school in Mason, signed a lease-purchase agreement Tuesday with Mason City Schools. The academy will lease the Mason Heights building for the next two years, after which it will purchase the school for $1 million.

“We’re very fortunate to be entering into this agreement with such great folks, already in our community,” said Mason Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline. “We are thrilled that Mason Heights will continue to be used as an educational home to children.”

The district on Saturday will hold a community celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. at the school, located at 200 Northcrest Drive, to honor Mason Heights’ 45-year history with Mason City Schools.

To also celebrate its future, Kist-Kline invited Royalmont Academy students, staff and their families to join the festivities.

“On behalf of the board of directors at Royalmont, and all of our staff, families and students, I’d like to thank you for your willingness to work with us,” said Tony Ferraro, Royalmont Academy executive director. “This project truly fits our vision of the continued growth and expansion of our program of formation at Royalmont.”

Royalmont, a 16-year-old school serving southwest Ohio, is currently located in a facility right next door to Western Row Elementary School. About 200 students attend the school. With their school motto — “Semper Altius,” which means “always higher” — the school will likely be a good fit for Mason Heights.

In February of this year, the Board of Education approved the closure of Mason Heights as part of a plan to consolidate its buildings from six to five for the 2012-13 school year. The building, built in 1967, has 59 classrooms and additional educational spaces including an annex, gymnasium, cafeteria and library. The district will educate preschool, kindergarten and two-thirds of its second-graders at the Mason Early Childhood Center, while third-grade students and the remaining one-third of second-graders will attend Western Row beginning next school year.

Proceeds from the lease and sale will be used to maintain current Mason City Schools facilities. Ohio law states that money from the sale of facilities cannot be used for operating expenses.

Kist-Kline said that not only does the agreement meet the district’s commitment to community taxpayers by saving $50,000 per year in money budgeted to maintain the building and generate $1 million when it’s sold, but it also “ensures that we keep our word and remain good neighbors.”

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