Former YMCA could house STEM/STEAM school

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — A tuition-free school focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) could be coming to Xenia as early as the 2021-22 academic year.

Xenia City Council Thursday introduced a resolution authorizing the sale of the former YMCA building on East Church Street to Former Y Xenia, LLC, a holding entity representing Community STEAM Academy for $52,500. The city took ownership of the approximately 42,000-square-foot building when the REACH Center opened on Progress Drive and the YMCA moved into that building.

The academy will feature three grades (likely fourth, sixth, and ninth) at the start, according to Dr. Jeremy Ervin, founder and chief administrative officer, and three will be added each year until it houses K-12.

“Community Steam Academy Xenia has been a passion of mine for many years,” said Ervin, a former Cedarville University educator. “Having an opportunity to bring a project-based, student-centered linking with community service, entrepreneur, and college and career readiness has been a passion of mine for a long time. Having an opportunity to become a community school and STEM/STEAM designated allows for another option for the parents of children to offer them kindergarten through 12th grade.”

According to the school’s brochure, the majority of the students will be coming from within a 30-mile radius, which contains eight counties and 47 school districts, which currently represents more than 170,000 students based on 2019-20 National Center for Education Statistics.

The school would be the first K-12 STEM/STEAM school in Ohio and the first of its kind in Greene County.

Once it has established a K-12 student body, Ervin anticipates CSA will occupy an additional building for fourth through 12th grade. The former Y building would house K-3 and be the central location for the school’s dynamic movement/physical education programs. Students in fourth through 12th would be bused to that building.

The brochure said a possible secondary location is the former Eavey Exchange Warehouse on West Third Street.

City Manager Brent Merriman said selling the building to the group fits with previous council directives.

“In our strategic discussions with council, you have made it clear to us and have directed us that we should be advancing the cause of education in our community in order to promote the quality of life that brings, as well as encouraging the betterment of our youth, while improving the competitiveness that we present to prospective employers,” Merriman said.

Merriman added that the school would help grow the city’s tax base and give Xenia a community asset which would draw consumer traffic downtown. The city’s staff report indicates that CSA also has the potential of establishing a high-quality educational option for Xenia families, and elevating Xenia as a regional educational destination.

The closest current option is Dayton Regional STEM, a 6-12 school about 20 minutes away.

A second reading and vote on the resolution is expected at the Aug. 27 meeting, at which time an economic development loan agreement for $50,000 would be executed between the city and Former Y Xenia. The agreement guarantees the repayment of the $50,000 to the city either through income taxes generated by the school or cash payments if the plans don’t come to fruition.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.