COLUMBUS, Ohio — Schools in Ohio are gearing up for future construction projects, thanks to recent state funding totaling nearly $500 million for school construction projects.
A total of 26 districts in Ohio will be benefiting from school construction dollars. The state is also required to contribute local funding for school construction, which will nearly double the total construction dollars.
South-Western City School District received the most funding, totaling $124 million in state funding. The district will receive a total of $248 million for school construction, as local funds are expected to match state dollars for the projects.
Ohio school districts must raise their local share of the project within 13 months before the state funding can be released, according to the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC). Districts that fail to acquire their funding in that period are considered “lapsed,” but can still participate in OSFC programs once they obtain local funding.
The money will come at a crucial time, when facility upgrades and new construction are in high demand throughout school districts. However, the funding awards are still contingent upon the Ohio State Controlling Board approval.
“This is a critical step in ensuring that our children are in new or renovated facilities that help support academic achievement,” said Richard Hickman, OSFC executive director.
Energy Conservation Savings
OSFC will also receive funding for districts through the savings produced by a new program that was recently introduced in the state. In late June, OSFC gave approval for five Ohio school districts to participate in the Commission’s Energy Conservation program, designed to produce significant energy conservation savings for the districts.
The Commission’s Energy Conservation program, more commonly known as the HB 264 program will guide the five districts to nearly $860,000 in annual energy and operational savings through the planned improvements, according to OSFC.
“Reducing energy costs and consumption is a major goal for school districts,” said Hickman in a statement. “The $860,000 in annual savings generated through the HB 264 program will allow these five districts to upgrade their facilities and become more energy-efficient. Furthermore, the energy savings will cover the cost of the financing used to fund the projects.”
Districts involved in energy conservation include Clinton-Massie Local, Graham Local, Shaker Heights City, Tipp City Exempted Village and the Upper Arlington City District.
In addition, all school buildings currently being designed or built with OSFC funds will receive at least LEED Silver certification, with a goal of meeting LEED Gold, according to OSFC. Two Ohio schools have already achieved LEED Platinum status, the highest LEED certification level, as well as 18 school buildings achieving LEED Gold, and another 13 receiving LEED Silver certification.