Xenia schools will ask for levy to replace Warner Middle School in May

Xenia Community Schools will ask for levy to replace Warner Middle School in May 2021. FILE
Xenia Community Schools will ask for levy to replace Warner Middle School in May 2021. FILE

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

The Xenia school district is asking residents to vote on two property tax issues in the May 4 election — renewal of an existing 1.3-mill school facilities levy, plus a new 2.3-mill bond issue to pay for the replacement of Warner Middle School.

The bond issue is similar to the 2.6-mill measure that voters narrowly rejected in November. Because of the recent revaluation of county property values, the millage is slightly lower this time, but funds generated would be the same ($36 million).

If voters approve, the money would be used to demolish Warner Middle School and build a replacement school adjacent to the current property. The 37-year bond is projected to average 2.3 mills, generate $1.78 million annually, and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated $80.50 per year.

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Xenia’s Board of Education voted unanimously Jan. 14 to put the bond issue on the May 4 ballot.

“The incredibly close vote this past November makes the decision to ask the voters to reconsider this straight-forward plan to replace Warner Middle School a relatively simple one,” said Gabe Lofton, superintendent of Xenia Community Schools, in a statement. “The need for a new facility has not gone away, and our students deserve the opportunity to learn and grow in a facility that will meet their needs for years to come.”

In 2009, Xenia voters approved a bond issue that paid for five new elementary schools. But in 2016-17, when the district asked voters for another bond to build a new middle school-high school complex, they were rejected three times.

Lofton previously told this newspaper that the 2020-21 requests are only to replace the nearly 60-year-old middle school because a two-year community input process identified that as the district’s biggest need.

“It is our hope that we can address any lingering concerns that voters may have about replacing Warner, while also making sure that families understand that the (permanent improvement) funds are what allow us to maintain and continue to improve all district facilities,” Lofton added. “It is our responsibility to create the best environment for students to grow and learn, and maintaining the pace of our facilities plan hinges on voters renewing those funds.

Xenia school district officials said the 1.3-mill permanent improvement levy has been funding capital improvement projects across the district for more than two decades. Previous projects funded by permanent improvement dollars include the restoration of Benner Field House and the complete renovation of the Bob Hope Auditorium at Xenia High School, scheduled to open this February.

The permanent improvement levy generates about $450,000 annually and was last approved by voters in 2016. As a renewal of an existing tax, it would not raise tax rates if passed.

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