Warner Middle School levy passes

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Xenia will be getting a new middle school.

By 194 votes, residents in the school district unofficially approved a 2.3-mill property tax levy will raise $36.2 million to allow the district to replace the aging Warner Middle School building. It will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $6.71 per month according to district officials.

The unofficial results released by the Greene County Board of Elections show 2,142 voted for the levy and 1,948 voted against. Voters in the district also approved the renewal of a permanent improvement levy, 2,483-1,615.

The 1.3-mill PI levy, which raises $450,000 annually costs the owner of a $100,000 home $13.16 per year and is not a new tax.

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 Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton made its recommendation to the XCS Board of Education to replace WMS.

The district has tried several times to pass tax levy for Warner, most recently in November 2020. It failed by 358 votes. It also tried to pass a levy to build a combined high school-middle school complex near U.S. 35 and U.S. 42. 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.

The new facility will be designed to meet the needs of students now and in the future in terms of infrastructure, security, and more, according to district officials.

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.

The renewal levy has helped the district pay for many projects.

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.