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Xenia schools considers putting bond issue back on the ballot

Voters rejected a 3.9-mill levy on Tuesday.

A 3.9-mill levy that would have been used to help build a new facility for middle and high school students in Xenia failed, but voters might see the issue on the ballot again in the spring, according to the superintendent.

The school district will need to file the appropriate forms in January to get the issue on the ballot in May.

“We would have to pass our local share within 13 months (to take advantage of state money),” said Xenia Community Schools Superintendent Denny Morrison. “We have until next August to pass something, which means if we’re back on the ballot again, our next opportunity we would have would be in May. We need to put a plan together and go back to the board of education for their approval, and hopefully move forward.”

The school district needs the levy to raise the required local match funds to build a new single school building to be constructed at Ohio 42 and Ledbetter Road for Warner Elementary School and Xenia High School — a $62 million project, according to state documents. The state would cover 46 percent, $28.5 million, of the cost.

Morrison believes voters could approve the levy the second time around. He noted that it took three attempts to pass a similar ballot measure for Xenia’s five elementary schools

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If the levy was approved, it would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home $136.50 per year.

The school district considered replacing the schools after a state-required evaluation of the existing buildings rated them both as “borderline,” and estimated the district would spend 70 percent of the replacement cost to fully renovate them.

“The assessment cited we have a lack of fire suppression systems,” Morrision said. “We have leaking roofs. We have water damaged ceilings. We have rusted and collapsed pipes with failing shut-off valves. We have aging and unreliable heating systems. We have numerous issues with ADA compliance. We have inadequate wiring and electrical systems. Classrooms are too small or poorly configured.”

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission estimated repairs and renovations would total more than two-thirds the cost of building a new facility.

Warner Middle School’s main boiler has stopped working. Now two backup boilers are being used, said Jim Slyger, the school district facilities manager.

“These are so old they’re outdated,” he said. “In today’s market you would have smaller boilers that would be operational for the school.”

Xenia was one of 12 school districts approved for funding last July, Morrison said.

The district has been keeping the schools clean and fixing day-to-day problems, but major repairs have been delayed.

“We don’t want to throw money out the window if we know we have new buildings coming,” Morrison said. “At the same time if we’re not able to raise the local share and the state money goes away, then what we would start doing is spending additional dollars to fix the major issues that we have in our buildings … We want to put kids in safe environment. We want to put kids in a good environment for learning.”

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