Superintendents thrilled with levy passages

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Don’t be shocked if you see some area superintendents doing cartwheels through their buildings this week.

Voters in the Beavercreek, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek, and Xenia school districts unofficially passed crucial property tax levies Tuesday, providing funding for day-to-day operations and a new middle school.

In Xenia, the fifth time was the charm as voters finally gave the OK for a new Warner Middle School. The district had been trying to pass some type of middle school levy since November 2016, when it went for a combined HS/MS complex. The levies failed four times prior to Tuesday.

The 2.3-mill property tax will raise $36.2 million to allow the district to replace the aging building. It will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $6.71 per month according to county records.

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.

“I am heartened by the trust that our community has shown through this vote to support a much-needed new facility for our middle school students,” said Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton. “This has been a long process, but I truly feel that we listened to our community throughout the planning, and that was evident in the outcome.”

The next step for the Warner project will be to begin the planning process for what the new facility will look like.

“As established members of this community, board members understand what it means to families to provide a safe and welcoming environment for our students to learn,” said Tamara Bartley, president of the XCS Board of Education. “Replacing the facility built in 1962 with a modern learning environment capable of preparing our students to succeed in high school and beyond is a critical step in preparing for the future of Xenia students.”

The approval of the permanent improvement levy will provide funding for the next five years to support projects on the district’s master facilities plan, providing critical maintenance and upgrades to existing facilities.

“With both issues approved, this puts the district in a very strong position moving forward,” Lofton said. “Up to this point, we have had many discussions about what is needed to keep students ‘safe, warm, and dry’ at Warner Middle School. But now that the voters have spoken in support of a new facility, I am excited that we can actively plan to create a safe, modern learning environment for our middle school students that will prepare them well for a bright future.”

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 of the new Warner if and when it’s the district’s turn.

In Bellbrook, voters approved a 7-year, 4.9-mill levy that will raise $3.22 million annually to help fund the district’s day-to-day operations, such as staffing, utilities, transportation, and supplies.

It will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $171.50 annually.

The district had tried to pass a similar measure three times. The levy, which unofficially passed 3,315-2,923, will provide long-term financial stability for the district, according to officials.

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the volunteers who dedicated countless hours to ensure that our community was informed about the facts facing our schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Doug Cozad. “We are grateful to the voters who passed this levy despite all of the obstacles and uncertainties we have been facing as a result of the pandemic, and to the community for supporting our efforts to strive every day to provide quality educational experiences for our students.”

With the passage of the levy, K-5 STEM, two full-time librarians, and 31 supplementals for clubs and activities will be reinstated, the district said in a release. The district has and will continue to operate a lean budget, be financially prudent, and keep expenses to a minimum while looking for ways to seek efficiencies.

“We are very pleased with the success of the levy and the lifeline it provides for our schools and community,” said David Carpenter, board president. “We will continue to work on keeping the community informed and appreciate the support and trust demonstrated by the passage of this levy.”

In Beavercreek, voters approved an 8.7-mill levy that will raise $18.5 million annually to fund about 18 percent of the district’s day-to-day operations. It will cost the owner of a $100,000 house $266.44 per year.

Myriad cuts would have taken place had the levy failed, officials said.

“We are extremely thankful for the overwhelming support from our community with the passage of our levy,” Superintendent Paul Otten said. “This revenue will support the outstanding programs and services in our district and will allow us to continue advancing the educational opportunities for our students. We are committed to remaining fiscally responsible and transparent with all district funds.”

Unofficial results show 9,865 votes in favor of the levy and 3,445 against it.

The board of elections will conduct it’s official count and certification at 4 p.m. May 18. According to Llyn McCoy, the board director, there are 142 absentee ballots and up to 155 provisional ballots yet to be counted.

McCoy said she doesn’t expect any of the outcomes to change once they are counted.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.