The South-Western City School District's bond issue on the March 6 ballot will be its second attempt to obtain funding to participate in a state assistance program.

The South-Western City School District's bond issue on the March 6 ballot will be its second attempt to obtain funding to participate in a state assistance program.

The 38-year, $148-million bond issue, at 2.9 mills, is designed to raise money to qualify the district for participation in an Ohio School Facilities Commission project.

Districts participating in OSFC have to pay half the construction costs; OSFC pays the other half.

Not all districts succeed in attempts to raise the money needed for OSFC projects. Fifty-four school districts (including SWCS) currently have qualified for the program but failed to raise the needed money.

Since the OSFC program began in 1997, 210 projects have been completed and 103 projects are in progress, OSFC documents say. The state has 718 school districts, according to the Ohio School Boards Association.

The SWCS project would build 13 new elementary schools, replace Franklin Heights High School and make minor renovations to Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods elementary schools.

Voters rejected Issue 81, a combined levy and bond issue, in November 2008. The bond issue would have had a lifetime of 28 years and raised $262 million, or 53 percent, of a total $468 million project to revamp school facilities throughout the district.

The total project cost has since been scaled back to $207.3 million.

The number of lapsed districts can be considered a rather small percentage, said OSFC chief of media relations Rick Savors. The number has increased in recent years.

"Obviously, the economy has had some effect," he said.

Districts that recently passed operating levies, for example, might have difficulty passing a bond issue, he said.

The number of CFAP programs awarded yearly depends on the number of districts offered funds and how many of them pass their local levies.

The number of districts offered funds "varies because of the size of the projects and the amount of appropriations given to us by the Ohio General Assembly," Savors said.

The OSFC was appropriated $525 million for fiscal year 2011-12. Since the program's inception in 1997, 860 new and renovated buildings have opened across the state, Savors said.

OSFC offers a number of programs. SWCS seeks to participate in the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program.

In 2009, 14 CFAP programs were awarded to Ohio school districts. In 2010, only two programs were awarded. The percentage of the local district's contribution depends on several factors including the value of real estate in the district.

Two CFAP programs are in progress in Franklin County. In 2002, Columbus City Schools was awarded a $1,337,758,703 program that was 30-percent state funded. In 2008, Whitehall City Schools was awarded a $78,144,967 program that was 61-percent state-funded.