The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) reviewed its work for FY10 Thursday and awarded another $345 million in school construction projects to get a start on FY11. The commission is providing just under $200 million of that amount, with the rest coming from local matching sources. 

OSFC Executive Director Richard Murray said a significant portion of state funding will come from the $4.1 billion tobacco securitization initiated by Gov. Ted Strickland and approved by the Ohio General Assembly in 2008.

“This agency is committed to working with these districts by provide quality learning environments that enhance our children’s future,” Murray said in a statement following the monthly meeting. “These school construction projects will have a significant economic impact on local communities as today’s commission action translates into as many as 3,520 job opportunities for Ohio workers.”

Under the Green Schools Initiative adopted by the commission in 2007, all of the building designs will employ the energy-efficient and environmentally-conscious LEEDrating system developed by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council.

“Schools built to this standard have been proven to make a tremendous positive impact on student health, test scores, teacher retention, school operational costs and the environment,” the commission said.

The funding awards must still receive Controlling Board approval. Districts must also produce local matching funds within a one-year window before state funding can be released.

In related business, OSFC approved nearly $80 million for construction contracts in 23 school districts.

Members also reviewed total OSFC spending for the past 13 years, noting the rise to $1.05 billion in FY09, falling slightly to $1.006 billion in FY10.

In other business, the director also touched on the flap involving several school districts in Scioto County, which have filed a complaint with the Ohio Inspector General’s Office against OSFC for allegedly pressuring schools to accept union-friendly project labor agreements. 

“I made no such attempt to influence them or pressure them,” Murray said of specific allegations by New Boston School District.

In a separate statement Thursday, Inspector General Thomas Charles said the complaint against OSFC has yet to be resolved.

“We felt it had merit, we did open a case, and it’s ongoing,” he said.