XENIA — A 2.6-mill property tax levy to raise money for a new Warner Middle School is currently failing.
According to most-updated numbers, 7,533 voters said no, while 6,828 voted in favor of Issue 24. Greene County still has 4,354 outstanding absentee ballots and there are still some precincts yet to be counted.
If it passes, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay around $7.58 a month, generating $36 million for construction, according to the voteforxenia.com website.
XCS tried several times in the past to pass a bond issue that would enable the district to build a new high school/middle school complex near Ledbetter Road and U.S. 42. After the last failure, Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton convened a visioning committee to explore facility options.
After many meetings and deliberations, the committee recommended replacing Warner.
According to the state’s assessment done several years ago, WMS, originally built in 1962, has several main systems — including heating, electrical, fire alarm, and plumbing — that are in need of replacement, while significant repairs are necessary for the roof and ventilation system. Other issues with the more-than 50-year-old structure include a non-compliant security system, a lack of central air conditioning, and inadequate and non-compliant handicapped access. The report also noted that the overall facility is not equipped with an automated fire suppression system.
Warner houses 1,100 students daily and is no longer able to meet the needs of those students, according to district officials. Projections also show that the population of middle school-age students in the Xenia district will increase in the coming years.
The XCS long-range facilities plan — which was revamped in 2017 to take a look at the district’s physical assets — places WMS at the top of the list of needs. Based on those assessments, as well as feedback from the community, Warner has become the top priority.
“As a district, we have a very real responsibility to maintain current facilities and upgrade or replace where maintenance is no longer the most reasonable, cost-effective choice,” Lofton said after the district passed the final resolution placing the issue on the ballot. “This resolution is an extension of the work done by the visioning committee over the past two years, and moves us one small but important step forward in the process.”
The district expects 46 percent of approved construction costs for a new middle school to be reimbursed by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission under its Expedited Local Partnership Program, which was created to allow a school district to expend local resources to proceed with new construction, additions, or repairs prior to it being eligible for state assistance.
As part of the ELPP agreement, the district will also enact a half-mill levy for maintenance on the new building, similar to what is already in place for the elementary schools.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.