Xenia Daily Gazette
XENIA – The Xenia Community School District is in the process of updating its Master Facility Plan to address building needs for middle and high school students, and the district is actively seeking community input into the plan.
The schools will host a community forum 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 5 at Cox Elementary School to share information about the existing buildings, review several possible plan options and get feedback.
“In order to help shape the plans and direction for the district’s middle and high school facilities in ways that best meet the needs of our students and the community, it is important that we get input from our parents, community leaders and residents,” said Superintendent Denny Morrison. “Their involvement in this process is critical.”
Over the last several months, the school district has been working with the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) and Dayton-based Ruetschle Architects to develop options for consideration to address building needs at both Warner Middle School and Xenia High School. Options range from extensive renovations and additions for both buildings to building new school facilities on one campus or two separate locations. The district has hosted two community forums already — one in February and one in March — with approximately 40 people attending each session and sharing their feedback. Phone interviews with various community leaders have also been conducted and an online survey is planned for later this spring.
The process of updating the district’s facility plan was triggered by XCS receiving notice that the district likely would be eligible for state matching funds in 2016 through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) – the state umbrella agency over the OSFC. To be eligible, XCS must submit its updated plan in mid-April with conditional approval from the OFCC expected in May.
Depending on the master plan option selected, the state’s share of funding for the project is expected to be $26.5-$32 million. XCS would only be eligible to receive the state funds if the remaining portion of the overall project was provided by the local community through a bond issue. The district would have approximately one year to pass such an issue with the first opportunity being the November 2016 election.
In 2009, district voters approved a bond issue for XCS to build five new elementary schools with the state contributing about half of the overall cost. Construction of the elementary schools was completed in 2013, and is considered “segment one” of the OFCC project. Updating the facility plan for the middle and high school allows XCS the opportunity to be considered for “segment two” funding.
As part of the process, the OSFC conducted assessments of each building. Its reports are available to the public at www.xenia.k12.oh.us.
According to the state’s assessment, Warner Middle School, 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 notes that the overall facility is not equipped with an automated fire suppression system. The OSFC’s report lists the total renovation costs for Warner Middle School at $18.1 million.
Xenia High School was built in 1976, and the state’s assessment lists the total renovation costs for that building at $28.3 million. The report indicates that the building’s heating and electrical systems, as well as the roof, need to be replaced. Like Warner, the high school also lacks sufficient handicapped access, and fire alarm, and fire suppression systems. The classroom spaces at both buildings are also too small by current standards, and a complete replacement of the technology systems in each building would be needed to meet the Ohio School Design Manual requirements.
“A significant opportunity is being presented to us with the potential to have the state contribute millions of dollars to help address these school buildings,” Morrison said. “Without the state funds, 100 percent of the responsibility of repairing, renovating, updating or replacing the schools falls on our community.”
Updating and submitting the facility plan to the OFCC is one of the first key steps, Morrison added. But, it is hardly the last opportunity the public will have to provide input. The district will continue to regularly communicate progress with parents, staff, residents and other stakeholders – and their input will be requested to help further refine and enhance the plans regarding locally funded initiatives, specific design components and more.
Content provided by Xenia Community Schools.