The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) gave conditional approval Thursday for expected building projects in FY17, with 15 districts in line for $950 million worth of construction, while its parent agency set guidelines for a program giving schools up to $15,000 apiece to test for lead in water fixtures and replace them if needed.

Commission planning chief William Ramsey said that figure could eventually surpass $1 billion, as more districts could be added to the list during quarterly updates to the project list.

According to Ramsey, the districts plan 26 new buildings and eight renovations, with an average project cost of $63.4 million and an average state share of costs of 37.8 percent. Four districts have already secured their local share of funding.

The commission also approved funding through its STEM program for Tri-Star STEM Compact School in Mercer County for a $16.6 million project with a 50 percent state share.

The OSFC also approved two updates to templates for its project agreements to reflect recent changes in law. One addresses the use of lease-purchase agreements for districts to secure their local share of project funding. The other addresses changes recently enacted in HB180 (Maag) to bar local governments, including school districts, from requiring that local residents be hired for project work. 

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) voted to set program guidelines for the lead abatement grant program, funded in HB390 (Schaffer-Retherford) at $12 million.

OFCC program services chief Jeff Westhoven said traditional schools, charter schools and chartered private schools housed in buildings constructed before 1990 will be able to secure funding, which can also cover eligible work already performance since Jan. 1 of this year. Schools would have nine months to complete the work if funded. 

Westhoven said the agency is developing an application process now and will host an online webinar for interested schools once it’s complete. The commission also voted to delegate authority to approve the grants to OFCC Executive Director David Williamson.