XENIA — After several months of talking about the future inside Xenia schools, a visioning committee has moved on to bricks and mortar.
The committee — which consists of business partners, students, parents and other stakeholders — meets monthly in one of the district buildings and takes part in robust discussions aimed at preparing the district for the future.
“We started that whole visioning committee to engage the community around what the 21st century should look like within Xenia Community Schools,” Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton said. The two-pronged approach began with discussions around the teaching and learning aspect of the schools. The committee came up with core principals help shape the teaching process moving forward.
Committee members more recently brainstormed ideas on how to address the condition of Warner Middle School and Xenia High School and began developing a master facilities plan. The condition of both buildings is well-documented and the district three times tried to pass a bond issue that, when coupled with an offer from the state to pay for nearly half of the project, would have allowed the construction of a middle school/high school complex with shared central space.
That money went away, but the issues are still there and Lofton hopes the committee will come up with a plan that will address both buildings in some way through new construction and/or renovation. The district can again apply for state funding that would cover nearly half of a potential project.
Lofton said voters will be asked for money one way or another. If the committee and school board members decide a bond issue is necessary, district residents could be asked to pass a levy as early as the fall. If a levy is presented and fails, the district will continue to allocate up to $2 million annually from the general fund for what Lofton called reasonable and necessary upgrades and maintenance to the buildings.
That will speed up the depletion of general fund dollars.
“If we don’t get a bond issue passed, it does accelerate the path for new money that we might have to go back to the voters to ask for,” Lofton said.
He is confident the committee will come up with an acceptable plan.
“I’ve been really pleased with the work around the visioning committee,” Lofton said.
The committee meets again 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at the board of education offices.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.