Xenia trying for another Warner levy

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — The Xenia Community School District is once again asking voters to approve a bond issue to pay for a new middle school.

If passed in the May special election, the 2.3-mill property tax levy will raise $36.2 million to allow the district to replace the aging Warner Middle School building. If approved, it will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $6.71 per month according to district officials.

The district is also asking voters to approve the renewal of a 1.3-mill levy, which raises $450,000 annually, costing the owner of a $100,000 home $13.16 per year. This is not a tax increase.

“We are asking our community to consider two issues that are critical to our long-term facilities plan,” said Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton. “The permanent improvement levy supports critical maintenance and repair projects, while the bond issue to replace Warner Middle School is the most cost-effective way to address the issues with that facility.”

Warner is nearly 60-years-old and has myriad issues that require a significant investment to repair or replace. Built in 1962, the building is now over capacity, as it was built to hold 823 students and there are 951 students in the building this school year, district officials said.

WMS also has multiple infrastructure issues that carry a price tag rivaling the cost to replace the facility entirely. A visioning committee commissioned by Lofton made its recommendation to the XCS Board of Education to replace WMS.

“In addition, our students deserve the best, safest learning environment we can provide in order to prepare them for high school and beyond — and a new facility with that infrastructure built in is by far the best route to meeting those needs,” Lofton said.

Any facility would be designed to meet the needs of students now and in the future in terms of infrastructure, security, and more.

At a minimum, the new facility would meet current standards for school safety, including:

• Secure entrances — visitors would enter through a single double-door location, and must be buzzed into the building.

• Safe spaces by grade — grade-bands designed with restrooms to be self-contained and reduce the number of students in hallways.

• Door glass and angles — classroom doors are located and angled to create space that is invisible from the hallway.

• Lockdown system — a lockdown system allows for immediate signal of an intruder, can close and lock doorways between wings of a building, and notify local officials immediately.

• Camera upgrades — cameras to monitor busy hallways and remote entrances, deter vandalism, and provide school leaders with reliable information.

Xenia is on the waiting list for funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which would cover 40 percent or more of the total cost if and when it’s the district’s turn. Lofton said that if the levy fails, repairs and upgrades will still be needed at Warner and those would be done without any state funding.

That could potentially deplete the general fund, forcing the district to seek what could be a more expensive operating levy in the future.

The district most recently tried for a bond issue in November 2020. It failed by 358 votes.

The renewal levy is also important to the district, according to officials.

Over the past several years, these funds have supported popular projects that benefit students, such as the recent renovation of the Bob Hope Auditorium at Xenia High School, and the restoration of the historic Benner Field House.

These funds will continue to support the work of the district’s master facilities plan, and at least some of these projects would have to be put on hold indefinitely if the PI funds were no longer available, according to officials.

“We have been steadily checking off projects large and small from our facilities plan, but there are many planned projects that would have to be put on hold if those funds were no longer available,” Lofton said.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.