By Scott Halasz
XENIA —Xenia voters Tuesday unofficially turned down a 3.9-mill bond issue to construct a new high school and middle school complex.
Preliminary results show 8,593 voters said no, while 7,745 voted yes on the levy. Had it passed, Issue 21 would have generated $2.4 million annually for 37 years to pay for construction of a new high school and middle school complex where US Route 42 and US Route 35 meet.
“It’s disappointing,” Superintendent Denny Morrison said. “First things first, I believe that the City of Xenia and the residents do support Xenia schools. They value education and did what they thought was best. We need to go back now and look at the plan we put together and what direction the board of education wants to go.”
The total cost of the project is approximately $64 million and the Ohio School Facilities Commission had pledged nearly $29 million to help fund the project. That money goes away after 12 months.
“I’ll gather as much information as I can,” Morrison said. “We have the one year to try and get the $28.5 million, which means our next shot would be in May of 2017. We would have to put together a plan and the board would have to approve it.”
The bond issue and construction are necessary because the current buildings are old and need many repairs to bring them up to code and to hold the projected student population, which is growing yearly. The OSFC recommends replacement over renovation because the cost to renovate is at least 66 percent of the cost to construct new.
Evaluators identified several issues including lack of fire suppression systems, water-damaged ceilings, building infrastructure that cannot support modern educational technology, rusted and collapsed pipes with failing shut-off valves, unreliable heating systems, and numerous issues with ADA compliance.
Also, according to the state’s assessment, both buildings are too small to accommodate projected enrollment and would require an addition.
“I’m sad tonight but I can tell you right now we’ll be up tomorrow morning educating kids, doing the best we can,” Morrison said. “I just want to thank all the folks that worked so hard. We did a lot of good things. We had a lot of people supporting us and just knocked themselves out. I’m just so appreciative of everyone.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.