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The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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 A state program to fund the construction and renovation of school buildings will be expanded to assist more districts  with other improvements if a bill sponsored by two area legislators becomes law.

 Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and Representative Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) say their bill will allow school districts that haven’t funded projects through the Ohio School Facilities Commission to qualify for funding for technology and security upgrades.

 The senator’s office said he introduced a bill last Tuesday.  Rep. Arndt said he would file a companion bill in his chamber.

The state, in the late 1990s, began allocating billions of dollars to a construction and renovation program, forming the OSFC to establish a state-wide ranking of school districts that included districts’ property valuations and other criteria to determine how much state funding would go to districts and how much of a local share would be required.

 Low-ranked districts, Rep. Arndt said, have waited many years for funds representing a small percentage of a project’s total cost.  

“We are concerned that some school districts in Ohio, including many in our region of Ohio, will never consider the current facilities funding program  to be the right choice for them,” he said “This new bill gives them an opportunity to qualify sooner for needs that can really help students.”

 Under the bill, a second option would be available for districts, allowing them to opt out of the traditional new building and renovation program – the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program – and select a new program for funding technological needs or security upgrades.

 The intent, says Sen. Gardner, is to provide quicker funding for schools and not require them to provide a high percentage share of local funding to be eligible.

 If passed, the bill would:

 • Require the OSFC to establish the program, including eligibility for districts that haven’t received funds under the current program.

 • Require local school boards to have an affirmative vote of at least four members to participate in the program.

 Arndt and Gardner said their proposal wouldn’t impact the facilities assistance program but financial assistance to districts would be issued quicker than under the current program.

Funding amounts and year of eligibility for school systems in the construction program would not be altered.

 In September 2012, the OSFC was merged with the State Architect’s Office to form the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.  The OSFC continues to work within the new consolidated agency and focuses on planning issues related to K-12 construction.

 

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