Xenia schools to get extra $20 million for school renovation, construction

Xenia was already building a new middle school, but the new state funding will expand options at the high school

Xenia Community Schools will receive nearly $38 million from the state to complete the new Warner Middle School and fund a major renovation and expansion for Xenia High School.

That $37,869,769, matched by just over $44 million in local funds, is part of more than $307 million in state funding announced Thursday for five school construction projects across the state.

The money comes from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission through its Classroom Facilities Assistance Program. Xenia previously applied to be part of a different OFCC funding path, the Expedited Local Partnership Program, which allows the district to pay for construction using local funds, such as the bond issue passed in 2021, while earning credit with the state for future projects.

According to Xenia schools officials, by switching to CFAP, the district will receive nearly $20 million more in co-funding from the state for both projects, rather than the $18 million it would have received in the future through ELPP.

The district’s original request through ELPP did not include plans for the high school. According to an OFCC spokesperson, inflation factors and scope added in the transition between funding paths also caused the overall project costs to go up, along with the state share of 46%.

“This is a game changer,” Superintendent Gabe Lofton said. “If this didn’t come through, at some point we would have to go back to voters for an additional bond issue for the high school. We don’t have to do that now.”

Warner Middle School is being completely rebuilt, with construction expected to be underway by the fall semester. The high school, which opened in 1977, requires several infrastructure upgrades to the roof, HVAC and security systems, plumbing, and other needs, according to district officials.

The expansion could include a brand-new STEM wing, as the district has needs for new physics, chemistry, and biology labs, Lofton said. But ultimately, plans for the high school will be developed with community and teacher input.

Under this new model, Lofton said, the district is getting “two schools for the price of one.”

“We are obviously elated about this additional funding from the state, and I do not think the impact this will have on Xenia students can be overstated,” Lofton said. “I am proud to say that we were able to capitalize on our solid financial position as a district to take advantage of this opportunity when it presented itself.”

The middle and high schools are the last of Xenia’s school buildings to be upgraded as part of a facilities plan developed in 2008. Originally, the district focused on five elementary schools, which opened in 2012 after voters approved a bond issue to pay for them.

Xenia High School was built after the 1974 tornado destroyed the previous building. It needs significant infrastructure work after 45 years, the district said.

“While the district initially tabled the conversation about a complete renovation at the high school due to the more pressing need at Warner, based on feedback from the community at the time, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the high school was also in real need,” Lofton said.

The district’s application must receive final approval from the Ohio Office of Budget and Management’s Controlling Board in August, after which the district will set a timeline for the project.

“Looking ahead, we will follow the model currently in use for Warner Middle School that provides multiple opportunities for input from our entire community,” said Lofton. “We will ensure that our parents, students, and teachers are engaged in the planning process, and that we continue to be a good steward of the limited resources available in order to provide the best possible learning environment for our students.”

Among the other projects to be named for state funding this week was the West Carrollton school district, which will get $124 million to build a new elementary school, plus a new combined middle and high school for grades 7 to 12 and career tech students.

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