XENIA — It’s official.
Voters in the Xenia Community School District will be asked in November to approve a property tax levy to fund a new building to replace outdated Warner Middle School. At Monday’s special school board meeting, board members voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution to place a 2.6-mill bond issue on the general election ballot.
Board member Dr. Paul Dillaplain voted no, not because he isn’t in favor of a new building but because he does not approve of the method and procedure being used to inform the community of the dire need.
If approved, the bond issue will raise $36.215 million dollars and will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated $91 annually. The school should eventually recoup 46 percent of the cost from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and it’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.
The district tried three previous times to pass a bond issue to receive state assistance, but it failed each time, causing the OFCC to pull back its share of the overall cost.
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.
During Monday’s meeting, Director of Business Operations Bryan Shirey said that only two of the building’s original boilers are operational and $25,000 was recently spent to re-tube one of them. The second had seven or eight tubes replaced to get it through the winter, he added.
Shirey said the building is maxed out electrically and can not be expanded without running new power lines. The carpet in the clinic has asbestos under it, so removal would include abatement. Most of the furnishings, Shirey said, are from the 1970s, which includes single-pane windows.
Physical space is also an issue. 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.
If the levy fails, Shirey said everything would “really need an overhaul” for that building and the board would have to decide how much of the “carry over” of funds should be dedicated just to make Warner “decent.”
Board member Cheryl Marcus said families love the newer elementary schools and they’re wanting something better for Warner now.
“It’s our obligation,” she said.
Board member Dr. Pam Callahan used Centerville City Schools as an example of how bad things are financially. The district is cutting 18.5 teaching positions, according to media reports, as a way to make up a reduction in state funding.
Xenia has not announced any plans to cut positions.
“Even if Centerville needs help right now, maybe the folks in Xenia will say, ‘wow they really won’t ask this if it wasn’t important. Xenia must have done well with money. They’re not going to cut anybody,’ ” Callahan said.
Dillaplain said the November election will be “an event we have never experienced.”
He said the previous methods can be used, but the effectiveness of any older techniques “must be evaluated.”
“What’s the value of campaign literature or door hangers,” he asked, adding that they have only the distance between the “front door and trash can.”
Dillaplain also said if it fails and they try again, it loses interest from volunteers and financial supporters.
A committee to support the levy has formed, with co-chairs Marsha Bayless, a former Xenia teacher and mayor; and district parents and community activists Brian and Stephanie Stephan.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.