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Xenia community discussing options after school bond defeats

Dozens of people in the Xenia community are meeting once a month to talk about much-needed improvements to school buildings after a series of defeated tax proposals.

PHOTO GALLERY: Xenia’s aging school buildings

Seventy-three business owners, parents and others are part of Xenia schools’ Visioning Committee, which met for the first time in August. The committee discussed SHP Leading Design’s assessment of the district’s eight school buildings, which estimated the cost to improve the facilities at $73 million over 10 years, according to a district news release.

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SHP Leading Design has been hired by the district on an $18,000 contract to assess the district’s buildings and help create a master facilities plan, which is required by the state before going back to voters with another levy request, according to the district.

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“The goal of the committee is to identify the values and vision of the community related to teaching, learning and facilities,” said Superintendent Gabe Lofton. “At the end of the day, we’re developing a plan for 21st century education within Xenia Community Schools.”

Lofton said there was an outpouring of interest from the community when the district put out the call for people to join the committee.

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“It really illustrates that people want to be involved and move the district forward,” he said.

SHP’s assessment indicates upgrades are needed for enhanced security at the entrances and exits, as well as roof repairs, electrical and mechanical system repairs, parking lot resurfacing and HVAC upgrades, according to the district.

Lofton said in a prepared statement that “SHP’s assessment affirms the need for … a master facilities plan with the hopes of getting back in line to receive state funding to offset the cost of these building improvements.”

The buildings in the most dire need of repairs are the high school and Warner Middle School. Voters have defeated three bond issues that would have funded a new school and campus to replace both of the aging buildings.

Stephanie Stephan, local attorney and parent of two Xenia students, said she joined the committee in part because she wants to contribute to the district’s vision going forward.

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“A lot of different voices in the community were heard at the first meeting,” Stephan said. “If you are dissatisfied with the community and the school, you need to be part of the solution.”

Stephan said her children will be in the district for the next several years and she wants the best educational opportunities and facilities for them and their classmates.

“We need to make sure the facilities are moving forward to advance the students. We need to continually improve our schools and change with the times,” she said.

The Visioning Committee meets next on Sept. 27 at the central office, 819 Colorado Drive.

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