[r85] House supports legislation regarding the sale of public school buildings (1/28/2013)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Start Date: 1/28/2013 All Day
STATEHOUSE — State Rep. Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven) co-authored House Bill 1012 with Rep. Matt Lehman concerning the sale of public school buildings. The bill passed the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday with a unanimous vote. Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) joined Rep. Pond and Rep. Lehman in co-authoring the bill. 

HB 1012 will lessen the time a school corporation is required to wait to sell an abandoned school building. Under current law, school systems are required to make a vacant building available for sale or lease to a charter school for a period of 4 years. This bill will reduce that time to 2 years. 

“Lessening the amount of time the building must be on the market allows possible purchasers to develop a plan for the use of the building,” said Rep. Pond. “For example, St. Joseph School in Monroeville has seen a spike in enrollment in recent years. They decided to buy a vacant elementary school building from East Allen School Corporation, but discovered they were violating the law since the vacant building had not been listed with the Department of Education for the required four years.” 

A similar situation concerning the sale of public school buildings has been unraveling with the vacant Pleasant Township school building, near the airport and State Road 1 and I-469. The airport has shown an interest in purchasing the vacant building.

HB 1012 allows a school district to request a waiver from the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) from the requirement that the building must be made available to a charter school for a period of 4 years. The IDOE will then notify the charter school organization of the vacant building and within 30 days, if no charter has come forward with a credible objection, the school can dispose of the building in any lawful manner.

An amendment added to HB 1012 states that a charter school could not purchase a school building and then flip the property for a profit.

“We want to give our children the best possible learning experience,” said Rep. Pond. “Speeding up this process for school districts is crucial for the timeliness of their expansions.” 

HB 1012 will move to the Senate for further discussion and debate.

To stay up-to-date on bills as they move through the legislative process, visit www.in.gov/legislative.