Mahoning Valley Lawmakers Seek State Funding Reform For School Buildings
Introduce bill to cut taxes, costs of funding school construction
October 28, 2014
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COLUMBUS— State lawmakers Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Rep. Ron Gerberry (D-Austintown) today introduced companion legislation to reduce school building costs for local school districts and taxpayers. The legislation would require the state to pay set percentages of school construction costs while decreasing the cost of local school improvement levies by 12.5 percent for local property taxpayers— changes the lawmakers say will increase the fairness of school construction funding.

“I’m happy to join Senator Schiavoni in introducing legislation that will decrease local costs for school construction projects in districts like Boardman, Poland and Canfield,” said Rep. Gerberry. “This modification would be a great benefit to those districts. Senator Schiavoni and I will do everything possible to move this legislation forward expeditiously.”

Specifically, the bill would cap local matching funds at 75 percent of total school improvement costs through the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (CFAP) and set a fifty-fifty cost share between the state and local districts for construction under the Exceptional Needs Program (ENP), a funding model that prioritizes single building replacement based on student health and safety. The current funding system is based on an assessed property valuation per student.

The bill would also reduce the increased cost of local levies for some schools by reinstating the 12.5 percent state cost sharing for local school improvement levies that was eliminated in the last state budget.

“The state needs to make a greater investment into public education now and into the future,” said Senator Schiavoni. “This legislation will take some of the burden off local taxpayers while ensuring that our young people have more opportunities to succeed."

The legislation does not change the priority list of districts in line for funding, and it could mean schools would face looser requirements in usingthe ENP for school construction funding. In the past, schools could not use the program if local levies had failed or if they first did not seek funding through the CFAP.

Rep. Gerberry’s legislation, House Bill 650, and Sen. Schiavoni’s version, Senate Bill 376, now await committee assignments for further consideration.

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