House Bill 166 took effect last month, reducing the two-year requirement of ORC 3313.411 to one year. ORC 3313.411 now requires a school district with school facilities that have been unused for one year to offer to lease or sell those facilities to community schools, STEM schools, or college-preparatory boarding schools located within the district's geographical territory.
The lease/sale mandated by this provision can be confusing, so here's a brief refresher on the process:
First, the statute applies only to facilities that have been used by a district for school operations since July 1, 1998. Buildings constructed or property acquired within the last 21 years are exempt from coverage.
Second, the facility must have been “unused” for one year. The statute defines “unused school facility” rather broadly as “any real property that has been used by a school district for school operations, including but not limited to, academic instruction or administration … but has not been used in that capacity for one year.”
If your district has an “unused school facility” that meets the above criteria, you must offer to sell or lease the facility to any community schools, college-prep boarding schools, or STEM schools within the district's geographical territory.
High-performing community schools within the district's geographical territory receive top priority under the statute.
- If only one high-performing community school submits notice of its intention to purchase the facility, then the district shall sell it to the school for its appraised fair market value. However, if multiple high-performing community schools express an interest in purchasing the facility, then the district must hold an auction.
- If no high-performing community school expresses an interest in purchasing the property, the district must then consider offers from start-up community schools, college-prep boarding schools, and STEM schools within the district.
- If only a single school in this category expresses an interest in purchasing the facility, then the district must sell it to that school for its appraised fair market value. If multiple schools in this category express interest in purchasing the facility, then the district must hold an auction.
The procedure for leases follows the same hierarchical priority structure. However, in instances where multiple qualifying schools desire to lease the property, the school district must hold a lottery rather than an auction.
Karrie Kalail, Esq.