Xenia approves bond issue to pay for new middle school

Xenia Community Schools asked voters to approve a bond issuance to replace Warner Middle School in May 2021. FILE
Xenia Community Schools asked voters to approve a bond issuance to replace Warner Middle School in May 2021. FILE

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Renewal levy for facility maintenance also passes

For the second time in a dozen years, Xenia voters have approved a bond issue to pay for new school construction. The new $36.2 million bond issue will pay for replacement of the 1960s-era Warner Middle School.

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According to unofficial results from the Greene County Board of Elections, the bond issue went from trailing early in the evening, to a dead heat at 9 p.m., to eventual voter approval, by a 52.4% to 47.6% ratio.

That was one of two school levies that Xenia voters were deciding on in this election. The other — a five-year renewal of a 1.3-mill school facilities levy — passed easily, with 61% of the vote.

Funds from the 37-year bond issuance will pay to demolish the existing Warner Middle School and build a replacement on adjacent land. Superintendent Gabe Lofton said the current building is substandard in “nearly every critical system” — electrical, air conditioning, safety, accessibility and more.

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Residents will pay property tax averaging 2.3 mills over 37 years according to the Greene County Auditor, to pay off the $36 million principal of the bonds, plus interest. That would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated $80.50 per year.

This ballot issue is similar to the request Xenia voters narrowly rejected in November, 51% to 49%.

Lofton said the school district spent more than two years engaging the community on the best approach to updating or replacing the middle school. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission recommended replacing Warner, because estimated renovation costs were more than two-thirds the amount of new construction.

While the bond issuance will pay for the middle school project, if the district is eventually approved for its $15 million to $20 million OFCC state share, that money could be used to pay off the bond debt or pay for renovations of Xenia High School.

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Back in 2009, Xenia voters approved a bond issue that paid for five new elementary schools. But since then, they had said no to repeated bond requests. In 2016-17, they rejected bonds for a new middle school-high school complex three times.

Meanwhile, the smaller 1.3-mill permanent improvement levy has been funding capital improvement projects across the district for decades. Previous projects funded by that levy include the restoration of Benner Field House in 2019, the renovation of the Bob Hope Auditorium at Xenia High School, plus smaller projects, like a parking lot repair and a district-wide LED lighting project, Lofton said.