By Daniel Downs
I agree with the many of our city leaders that Xenia needs new schools, but not now. The fact is Ohio Schools Facilities Commission funding will still exist for school districts needing capital to build new schools. What will no longer be available is the huge pool dirty money ripped off from tobacco companies whose products clearly state that if you consume their products you might get cancer or some other related disease. I realize many people don’t care where or how the money was obtained by the state. However, when you build upon fraud and injustice, the oozing toxins of injustice eventually spread.
I also agree Xenia needs good teachers and school facilities so that students will be prepared for good paying jobs, but I have to wonder how many residents work at good paying jobs located in Xenia. Jobs paying less than $35,000 a year are not good paying jobs they are less than average. Almost two-thirds of Xenia residents have below average incomes, and a third are at or below poverty level. These people cannot afford more taxes, inflation, economic recession, or anything else that raises their cost of living.
If Issue 20 passes, Xenia taxpayers will be paying off a $79 million levy for 28 years. The author of a letter published in the Xenia Daily Gazette by the title “Give intelligent voters real facts in Xenia” noted that the high school is only 32 years old. Will administrators then decide that Xenia needs another new one in 30 years?
Besides feeling bullied by the fanatical school levy cheer leaders, the same author observed that the schools have not been properly maintained. But, how could the administrators show how badly the school district buildings need replaced if they had kept them in good repair? Just look at the school budget. It is very low, which suggests that school administrators planned for their deterioration and obsolescence. Additional proof of this is present by one of the Xenia’s well-paid official cheerleaders, who wrote that the permanent improvement levy of $400,000 a year has not been enough to keep Xenia’s 10 school buildings in good repair. Gee, I thought it was an addition to the then maintenance budget and not meant to be the only funding source for maintaining good and healthy school buildings for the benefit of all of Xenia’s children.
A more important concern is whether the $79 million will result in better education. Ohio law requires the building of small schools—like many small neighborhood schools—while at the same time permitting large schools that the law acknowledges are ineffective learning environments. Although many Xenia High School’s 900+ students demonstrate exceptional achievement levels, students in other schools like Warner are not doing so well. Maybe it’s because those schools have too many students to be effective. Surely, people do not believe children from middle- and low-income home are learning somehow deficient (dumb)? As proven by education research, small schools are key to student achievement. The plan to combine schools into even larger units will not produce better prepared students.
The Xenia School Facilities Plan (Issue 20) is about getting money and not what is best for Xenia’s kids or the future of the community. Xenia taxpayers and parents of school children should demand the best educational environment their tax dollars can buy. That is another reason why Xenia should not vote for Issue 20.
My research of the Xenia School Facilities Plan includes:
Future of Xenia Under One Roof?
Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan: What I Learned at the Forum
Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan: Why Small Schools Are Best
Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan: It’s All About the Money