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The Ohio General Assembly Enacts Changes Affecting ESC Territory And Membership

House Bill 438, which goes into effect on September 28, 2018, makes two significant changes regarding (1) the annexation of educational service center (“ESC”) territory and (2) the appointment of additional governing board members.

With respect to the ESC territories, the act permits a local school district that previously severed its territory from an ESC, to sever its current ESC territory and annex it to an adjacent ESC territory. The intent of this annexation process is to allow local school districts to return “home” – i.e., to return to the ESC territory that the local school district previously annexed itself from.

A local school district initiates this severance and annexation process by adopting a resolution approved by a majority of all its members. The resolution is then subject to the approval of both the Ohio Department of Education (“ODE”) and by a referendum by petition of the local school district’s voters.

Specifically, the local school district must submit the resolution to ODE for approval. ODE will consider the impact of the proposed annexation on both the local school district and the ESC to which the local school district is proposed to be annexed – including the ability of that ESC to deliver services in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

In addition, the electors of the local school district may petition for a referendum vote on the resolution within 60 days. However, the question of whether to approve or disapprove the annexation resolution must be submitted to the electors if twenty percent of eligible electors sign a petition asking that the resolution be submitted to the general electorate.

If approved by ODE and the general electorate, the annexation will take effect one year later. If a local school district severs its territory from an ESC and annexes it to another, it cannot do so again for at least four years after the effective date of the prior annexation.

With respect to the appointment of governing board members, House Bill 438 permits the elected members of any governing board of an ESC to add appointed members. Under prior law, this provision only applied to joint ESCs. The number of appointed members may be any number up to one less than the number of elected members – so long as the total number of governing board members is an odd number.

The appointed members may be representatives of the client school districts of the ESC that are not otherwise represented on the governing board. The qualifications for the appointed members include the experience, knowledge, and skills that advance the mission and vision of the ESC.

The Final Bill Analysis of House Bill 438 can be found here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and Patrick Vrobel.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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