XENIA — After seeing first-hand the physical condition of Warner Middle School, Xenia resident Rod Degenkolb is forming a focus group to a find a win/win solution for the schools.
Degenkolb — who recently toured the school — pitched the idea at the Xenia Community School Board meeting Sept. 11, and asked for board support for his project.
“We are all concerned about the building itself there,” Degenkolb said. “I left there very surprised at the needs. Virtually every system in that building needs some work.”
The building, along with Xenia High School, would have been replaced had voters approved a bond issue that would have paid for the construction, with about 40 percent coming from the state. That bond issue failed three times, the final time in August. The state money is currently no longer available to Xenia but that could change in the future. And while Degenkolb was against the bond issue for various reasons, he isn’t against some type of project fixing at least Warner, if not the high school as well.
That’s why he is forming the forum.
“This focus group is about the buildings,” he said. “I hope to be well-prepared and encourage people who wish to be involved to quickly educate themselves as much as possible. I hope to take pictures at Warner and post them on Facebook to raise awareness. Also, I hope to set up a tour of the high school and central.”
Degenkolb is forming this task force around four facets: pure motives, synergy, limitations and open-mindedness. He said the motives must be to improve the school’s functionality and the students skill set. Everyone will be welcomed, involved and respected he said. In addition to limiting the focus on the buildings, members must attend at least two consecutive meetings and must limit discussions to facts. The final limitation is the time factor. He asked for a findings “deadline” from the board so the group can come up with recommendations. He also called for transparency and wants a list of maintenance needs (more than $10,000) in all the schools, while adding that everyone must accept that nobody will get 100 percent of what they want.
The end result, he hopes, will be a project the entire community supports.
“My goal is to come up with the best plan (singular) for middle school,” he said via email. “But if that involves making the high school into the middle school and build a new high school, so be it. Or fix Warner. Or add on to Central – the forum will decide.”
School officials seemed receptive to the idea during the meeting. Board member Jennifer Marietta made a motion to support the focus group and it was set for a vote. However board member Cheryl Marcus said she had concerns about voting right away as board policy is that audience comments are referred to the superintendent, who will look into the matter and then make a recommendation at the next meeting.
Board President Pam Callahan said motions can be made for any purpose during a meeting, however she, along with Marcus and board member Bill Spahr voted to table Marietta’s motion.
Degenkolb said he was OK with that decision because he wanted to board to be unified. But did say he hopes the board doesn’t wait too long.
“We must get moving forward,” he said. “After the vote we need to be ready to move.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.