Ciresi, Marcell bipartisan bill to allow intermediate units to own facilities for instructional use passes the House

HARRISBURG, July 9 – Bipartisan legislation (H.B. 1526) introduced by state Reps. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, and Kristin Marcell, R-Bucks, which would allow Intermediate Units to own facilities for instructional space passed the state House today.

IUs are regional educational service agencies created by the legislature in 1970. IUs provide high-quality programs to K-12 public school districts and non-public/private schools. Intermediate units also serve as liaisons between school districts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Pennsylvania’s 29 intermediate units provide special education, professional development, and technical assistance services to school districts, charter schools and private schools. Every year, more than 175,000 students and 50,000 educators receive services and training from IUs, meeting a variety of needs for students and school districts.

Currently, IUs are only permitted to own office space and warehouse facilities, a limitation that prohibits them from owning facilities used for instructional space; a limitation that does not apply to school districts, area career and technical schools, or charter schools. Many IUs operate classrooms and other instructional spaces as providers of important special education, pre-school programs and other educational services. All these instructional facilities must be leased, burdening IUs with rental costs that sometimes greatly exceed what it would cost the IU to purchase and own the facility themselves.

“As a former school board member, I know that leasing office and warehouse space both inflates costs for IUs and creates inadequate learning conditions by preventing IUs from providing facilities that are tailored for the needs of the students they serve,” Ciresi said. “This legislation would ensure that the money would be far better used in providing our children with a top-notch education.”

“I am pleased to see this bipartisan legislation that would allow IUs across the Commonwealth to own instructional facilities -- just as area career and technical schools and charter schools do -- moving forward,” said Marcell. “It is a fiscally responsible step that will strengthen our educational infrastructure and support the dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to educate our children.”

Both Ciresi and Marcell served on school boards prior to serving in the PA House. Ciresi was a member of the Spring-Ford Area school board for 12 years, which included three years as president and three years as vice-president. Marcell was a member of the Council Rock school board from 2018-23, which included one year as vice-president.

The legislation is now on its way to the state Senate for consideration.