New buildings would solve myriad issues

By Scott Halasz -

Submitted photo A rendering of what the proposed high school and middle school complex would look like.

Submitted photo A rendering of what the proposed high school and middle school complex would look like.

XENIA — Xenia residents are being asked May 2 to pass a 4.2 mil bond issue to construct new high school and middle school buildings.

The State of Ohio, through the Ohio Facility Construction Commission, is providing more than $28 million, around 40 percent of the total cost. If it’s approved, the bond issue will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $12.26 per month. The complex would be located at the northwest corner of U.S. 42 and U.S. 35 near Ledbetter Road. The 4.2 mills would cover construction and furnishings.

The current buildings, which have a combined age of more than 90 years, present multiple safety issues, are in need of repair and do not meet state guidelines, according to school and state officials. The Ohio School Facilities Commission toured the buildings and did an independent assessment and calculated that the cost of repairs was more than two-thirds of the cost to build new.

Some of the issues the state documented in its assessment include: water-damaged ceilings and leaking and failing plumbing; insufficient and outdated heating, ventilation, and electrical systems; lack of fire suppression systems — not compliant with building codes or state guidelines; obsolete and strained electrical systems; infrastructure that cannot support modern educational technology; and multiple issues with ADA accessibility.

The levy was defeated in November and whether it’s passed or not this time, some type of work will commence. The question residents face is: Do they want to pay around $12 a month to construct the new buildings or considerably more in the future for an operating levy.

“The taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the entire project or a variation of the project,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Christy Fielding.

Money to make the necessary repair and upgrades to the current buildings will be taken from the operating budget should the levy fail.

“We still have to repair, we still have to fix things,” Superintendent Denny Morrison said. “That money has to come from somewhere.”

Currently, 73.4 percent of the operating budget goes to classroom instruction. That will be “significantly impacted,” Fielding said, adding that it could lead to program cuts, staff cuts and/or pay freezes.

“We don’t want to do that,” Fielding said.

Morrison added that the district is in extremely solid financial shape. The last five years revenue has exceeded expenses, but the district will face deficit spending if the levy fails. If voters turn down the levy, not only will the district risk losing the $28 million, which goes away in August, but it will also be forced to come back to voters with an operating levy sooner than what is currently necessary.

“We want to move forward,” Morrison said.

That’s why school officials really want the new buildings. In addition to the aforementioned issues, there is a space issue. And repair and renovation would not include expansion to accommodate current and future enrollment.

“The classrooms right now are small,” Morrison said. “They’re poorly configured. We need more lab space. We need the kids up and doing things.”

Combined, the complex would provide 13.6 percent more space than the current buildings, Fielding said. There will be an auditorium shared by both schools. The spaces will be designed for current and future needs.

There will be dedicated space for students with multiple disabilities, larger classrooms for life-skills classes as well as restrooms that meet those needs. Science classes will have water, electric and gas hookups, and lab tables.

“The proper equipment to do experiments,” Fielding said.

Career tech pathway students will have spaces for their particular area of study as well.

Athletics will also benefit. The high school will have a competition gym and an auxiliary gym. The middle school will have one gym. Outside, according to a proposed rendering, there will be a baseball and softball competition and practice fields, along with a football practice field, two soccer practice fields and tennis courts.

Currently, the high school tennis team plays its home matches at the Greene County Fairgrounds. There would also a band practice field.

Each building would have its own entrance, drop off, staff and visitor parking lots. They would be connected by a central library and would share a cafeteria, athletic and performing arts center.

Submitted photo A rendering of what the proposed high school and middle school complex would look like. photo A rendering of what the proposed high school and middle school complex would look like.

By Scott Halasz

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.