On November 29 the Ohio House of Representatives approved HB 148 which wold require the School Facilities Commission to give districts priority project funding if they’ve recently transferred, merged or consolidated operations.
The OSFC bill would incentivize merged districts to seek construction program money from the state to build new and innovative classrooms as well as partner with universities that offer College Credit Plus, joint sponsor Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) said. The measure advanced with a 74-15 vote.
Under the bill, the commission would determine the state share of project funding based on the lowest percentage of the merged districts. It would also allow OSFC to reduce the share by up to 25% for efficient project features and by another 10% if the new building is on the same land as a state higher education institution.
“If you’re going to consolidate, it doesn’t make sense not to have new buildings, better buildings more efficiency,” Rep. Patterson said. However, districts that are consolidating because of declining enrollment can rarely afford or find community support in the form of a tax increase to construct new campuses.