INDIANAPOLIS | School corporations could dispose of their vacant buildings quicker under legislation approved 98-0 by the Indiana House on Monday.
Current state law requires school corporations to maintain their empty buildings for four years before they're allowed to sell, so the building is available if a charter school wants to claim it for $1.
House Bill 1012 changes that waiting period to two years and permits the Department of Education to grant a waiver, under certain conditions, if the school corporation wants to sell even faster.
The measure also requires a charter school return to the school corporation a share of the profit from any subsequent sale of the building.
State Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, was voted down Thursday when he sought to cut the vacant school holding period to one year to reduce the maintenance costs of school corporations.
He nevertheless voted for the proposal because he believes it's an improvement over the current system.
"It makes a bad situation much better," Smith said.
The measure now advances to the Senate, which is expected Tuesday to approve a similar proposal, Senate Bill 135.
In Northwest Indiana there are currently 12 unused school buildings in Gary and two in Michigan City, according to the state education department.