XENIA — Voters in the Xenia Community School District turned down a 37 year, 4.2 mill bond issue May 2.
According to unofficial results from the board of elections, 3,091 said no and 2,680 said yes to the levy that would have generated approximately $2.69 million annually to allow the district to construct a combined high school/middle school complex where US Route 35 and State Route 42 meet in the southern part of Xenia.
The levy was defeated 8,904 to 8,092 in November 2016.
“The City of Xenia is a generous city. The people I truly believe … value education,” Superintendent Denny Morrison said. “They just didn’t want to see their taxes raise. I fully understand. I have to admit I am saddened. We had a chance to do something truly special for the kids of Xenia. I want to thank everyone that worked so hard to get the bond issue passed. We had so much support. There were so many people involved. We really had a tremendous amount of support.”
Had it passed, it would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $12.26 per month to cover the city’s share of the project. The State of Ohio, through the Ohio Facility Construction Commission, had pledged more than $28 million — around 40 percent of the total cost — if the city can come up with its local share.
The state money goes away in August, leaving the district one last chance to pass the bond issue in the Aug. 8 special election.
Morrison said the board will need to decide within the next week if it will pursue another ballot issue. The deadline is May 10 to pass the final resolution necessary to be on the ballot.
The district sought the bond issue because the current buildings — Xenia High School and Warner Middle School — 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, making the district eligible for the state money.
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state documented in its assessment include: Water-damaged ceilings and leaking and failing plumbing; insufficient and outdated heating, ventilation, and electrical systems; lack of fire suppression systems — not compliant with building codes or state guidelines; obsolete and strained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.
Opponents of the levy have said they can’t afford a new tax and that the school district should just repair and renovate the current buildings.
School officials have said some type of work will be done, whether it’s via bond issue or through funds from the general operating fund.
“The taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the entire project or a variation of the project,” Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Christy Fielding previously said.