Proposed Ohio law could boost funding for school air conditioning

Many schools that lack air conditioning closed for whole or partial days in early September’s heat.

A bill introduced Thursday in the Ohio legislature could direct more funding toward air conditioning for Ohio schools, after many schools closed for whole or partial days in August and September because of high temperatures.

State Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) introduced House Bill 738 to require the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and the Ohio Department of Education to study the status of school buildings regarding air conditioning, accessibility, and school safety.

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Last month, Antani asked ODE to provide an estimate, within 30 days, of the cost to add air conditioning to those school buildings in Ohio that did not already have it. His office said he introduced the bill after being told that neither OFCC nor ODE had that information.

“Our schoolchildren deserve an adequate learning environment, and we must prioritize creating good conditions to make our school buildings safe, accessible, and conducive to learning,” Antani said Thursday.

The bill would require at least 25 percent of all state money given to the OFCC to be allocated so that eligible schools meet an acceptable standard for air conditioning, accessibility, and school safety.

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Antani said in a news release that disability accessibility and school safety are “basic necessities” in schools as well as air conditioning, and all school buildings should have those features, regardless of building age.

Some local school districts are fully air conditioned, but Troy, West Carrollton, Fairborn, Oakwood and Valley View are among the many districts that have partial or no air conditioning in their schools.

When temperatures soared above 90 degrees in early September, several of those districts, along with Greenon, Tipp City, Sidney and others released students at noon or closed for entire school days.

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Antani’s bill is being introduced late in the two-year legislative session, which ends in December. Any bills not adopted by the House and Senate and signed by the governor by the end of the year die and must be re-introduced the following year in order to be considered. The Ohio House isn’t scheduled to hold legislative sessions and committee hearings until after Election Day on Nov. 6.

Democrat Zach Dickerson, Antani’s opponent on the November ballot, suggested last month that Antani should have addressed the issue sometime during his four years in office.

Staff Writer Laura Bischoff contributed to this story.

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