3311.25 Merger of districts located primarily in same county with population of less than 100,000.

(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, two or more city, local, or exempted village school districts whose territory is primarily located within the same county may be merged as provided in this section, if the county has a population of less than one hundred thousand, as determined by the most recent federal decennial census.

(B) A petition may be filed with the board of elections proposing that two or more school districts whose territory is primarily located within a county meeting the qualifications of division (A) of this section form a commission to study the proposed merger of the school districts. The petition may be presented in separate petition papers. Each petition paper shall contain, in concise language, the purpose of the petition and the names of five electors of each school district proposed to be merged to serve as commissioners on the merger study commission. The petition shall be governed by the rules of section 3501.38 of the Revised Code.

A petition filed under this section shall contain signatures of electors of each school district proposed to be merged, numbering not less than ten per cent of the number of electors residing in that district who voted for the office of governor at the most recent general election for that office. The petition shall be filed with the board of elections of the county described by division (A) of this section. The board of elections of the county in which the petition is required to be filed shall ascertain the validity of all signatures on the petition and may require the assistance of boards of elections of other counties if any of the school districts proposed to be merged are located partially in a county other than the one in which the petition is required to be filed.

(C)

(1) If the board of elections of the county in which the petition is required to be filed determines that the petition is sufficient, the board shall submit the following question for the approval or rejection of the electors of each school district proposed to be merged at the next general election occurring at least ninety days after the date the petition is filed: "Shall a commission be established to study the proposed merger of any or all of the school districts in this county and, if a merger is considered desirable, to draw up a statement of conditions for that proposed merger?" The ballot shall include, for each of the school districts proposed to be merged, the names of the five electors identified in the petition, who shall constitute the commissioners on behalf of that district.

(2) If any of the school districts for which merger is proposed are located partially in a county other than the one in which the petition is required to be filed, the board of elections of the county in which the petition is required to be filed shall, if the petition is found to be sufficient, certify the sufficiency of that petition and the statement of the issue to be voted on to the boards of elections of those other counties. The boards of those other counties shall submit the question of merging and the names of candidates to be elected to the commission for the approval or rejection of electors in the portions of the school districts proposed to be merged that are located within their respective counties. Upon the holding of the election, those boards shall certify the results to the board of elections of the county in which the petition is required to be filed.

(D) A petition shall not be deemed insufficient for all school districts proposed to be merged if it contains the signatures of less than ten per cent of the electors who voted for the office of governor at the most recent general election for that office in a particular school district. If the petition contains a sufficient number of signatures and is otherwise determined by the board of elections to be sufficient for at least two school districts proposed to be merged, the board shall submit the question of the proposed merger for the approval or rejection of voters under division (C) of this section in each of the districts for which the petition was determined to be sufficient. The board shall not submit the question of the proposed merger for the approval or rejection of voters under division (C) of this section for any school district for which a petition contains an insufficient number of signatures or for which the board otherwise determines the petition to be insufficient.

(E)

(1) If the question of forming a merger study commission as provided in division (C) of this section is approved by a majority of those voting on it in at least two school districts, the commission shall be established and the five candidates from each school district in which the question was approved shall be elected to the commission to study the proposed merger and to formulate any conditions of any proposed merger if a merger is considered desirable after study by the commission. Any school district that disapproved of the question of forming a merger study commission by a majority of those voting on it shall not be included in, and its proposed candidates shall not be elected to, the commission.

(2) The first meeting of the commission shall be held in the regular meeting place of the board of county commissioners of the county in which the petition is required to be filed, at nine a.m. on the tenth day after the certification of the election by the last of the respective boards of elections to make such certification, unless that day is a Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday, in which case the first meeting shall be held on the next day thereafter that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday. The president of the school board of the school district with the largest population of the districts that approved the question of forming a merger study commission under division (C) of this section shall serve as temporary chairperson until permanent officers are elected. The commission shall immediately elect its own permanent officers and shall proceed to meet as often as necessary to study the proposed merger, determine whether a proposed merger is desirable, and formulate any conditions for any proposed merger. All meetings of the commission shall be subject to the requirements of section 121.22 of the Revised Code.

(3) The conditions for a proposed merger may provide for the election of school board members for the new school district and any other conditions that a majority of the members of the commission from each school district find necessary. The conditions for the proposed merger also may provide that the merger, if approved, shall not become effective until the date on which any required changes in state law necessary for the school district merger to occur become effective.

(4) As soon as the commission determines that a merger is not desirable or finalizes the conditions for a proposed merger, the commission shall report this fact, and the name of each school district proposed for merger in which the majority of the district's commissioners have agreed to the conditions for merger, to the board of elections of each of the counties in which the school districts proposed for merger are located.

The question shall be submitted to the voters in each school district in which the majority of the district's commissioners have agreed to the conditions for merger at the next general election occurring after the commission is elected. The question shall not be submitted to the voters in any school district in which a majority of that district's commissioners have not agreed to the conditions for merger. The board of elections shall not submit the conditions for merger to the voters in any district if the conditions for merger include the merging of any district in which the majority of that district's commissioners have not agreed to the conditions for merger.

The boards of elections shall submit the conditions of proposed merger for the approval or rejection of the electors in the portions of the school districts proposed to be merged within their respective counties. Upon the holding of that election, the boards of elections shall certify the results to the board of elections of the county in which the petition is required to be filed.

Regardless of whether the commission succeeds in reaching agreement, the commission shall cease to exist on the ninetieth day prior to the next general election after the commission is elected.

(F) If the conditions of merger agreed upon by the merger commission are disapproved by a majority of those voting on them in any school district proposed to be merged, the merger shall not occur, unless the conditions of merger provide for a merger to occur without the inclusion of that district and the conditions of merger are otherwise met. No district in which the conditions of merger are disapproved by a majority of those voting on them shall be included in any merger resulting from that election. If the conditions of merger are approved by a majority of those voting on them in each school district proposed to be merged, or if the conditions of merger provide for a merger to occur without the inclusion of one or more districts in which the conditions of merger are disapproved by a majority of those voting on them, the merger shall be effective on the date specified in the conditions of the merger, unless the conditions of merger specify changes required to be made in state law for the merger to occur, in which case the merger shall be effective on the date on which those changes to state law become effective.

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.29, HB 48, §1, eff. 7/2/2010.

Effective Date: 06-28-2002