House Bill 290, which became effective March 23, 2015, amended some of the language found in RC 3313.77 in regards to the “use of school premises for public meetings and entertainment.”
Any definition referring to a schoolhouse, schoolroom, school grounds or school property is now referred to as school premises. School premises is defined as all indoor and outdoor structures, facilities, land owned, rented, or leased by a school or district (RC 3313.77). Upon a request and payment of a reasonable fee, a school board must allow its school premises to be used when the premises is not being used for actual school purposes.
A district’s school premises may be used for the following reasons:
- To provide instruction in any branch of education, learning, or the arts.
- To have civic, religious, educational, social, recreational meetings and entertainments for any purpose to promote the welfare of the community if the meetings and entertainments are nonexclusive and open to the general public. The general public refers to members of the community including students during non-school hours and employees of a particular school or district when they are not working within the scope of their employment. Recreational meetings and entertainments are considered any indoor or outdoor games or physical activities that are either organized or unorganized and used for relaxation, pleasure, sport, diversion, or exercise.
- To use as a public library, a station for a public library, or a reading room.
- To use as a polling place to hold an election, register voters as well as to hold grange or similar meetings.
Each school board is required to adopt a policy allowing the general public to use its school premises. The policy must include the fees to be paid in order to use the school premises and what costs were used to determine the amount of the fees. After the board has adopted the policy, the policy must remain in effect until the board amends it. Upon request, a copy of the policy must be available to any district resident.