Xenia schools prepping for bond issue


By Scott Halasz - shalasz@aimmediamidwest.com



Lofton

Lofton


XENIA — Xenia voters will be asked to approve the building of a new middle school in Xenia.

Members of the board of education Monday passed a series of resolutions and agreements that will ultimately allow the district to place a bond issue on the November ballot. If approved, the district will raise around $36 million to build the new building and should eventually recoup 46 percent of that from the state.

The district tried three previous times to pass a bond issue to receive state assistance, but it failed each time, causing the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) to pull back its share of the overall cost.

“That disqualified us in terms of where our spot was,” Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton said.

However, Xenia is able to move forward by participating in the OFCC’s 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.

“Right now it’s all locally funded,” Lofton said.

But eventually Xenia will move up the list and receive around $16 million back from the state. It could be two years or it could be five years, Lofton said, adding that the state doesn’t disclose a district’s place in line. When the money is reimbursed, the district could use it for renovations at the high school or pay down the bonds issued for the middle school, which would lower property taxes, Lofton said.

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.

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 visioning committee created by Lofton after the most recent bond issue failed, Warner has become the top priority.

Also, in 2018 — with the assistance of SHP Leading Design — a capital improvement plan that included an assessment of the eight school buildings was created to determine how the district can keep them up to date.

Lofton
https://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2020/06/web1_Dr-Gabriel-Lofton-headshot-1.jpgLofton

By Scott Halasz

shalasz@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.