ESTIMATES of Local Spending
Districts across the country would receive billions of dollars to modernize, upgrade, repair and green America’s schools under legislation approved on May 6 by the House Education and Labor Committee. By a vote of 31 to 14, the Committee passed H.R. 2187, the 21st Century Green High Performing Public School Facilities Act, which would make critical investments to provide more students with modern, healthier, more environmentally-friendly classrooms. It would also support hundreds of thousands of new construction jobs and invest more than half a billion dollars for school facility improvements in the Gulf Coast, where many schools still face considerable damage caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“For too long, students and teachers have suffered in school buildings that are literally crumbling, posing direct threats to their safety, health and learning,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the Committee. “This legislation presents us with a vital opportunity to help boost student achievement, enhance teachers’ effectiveness, and create good jobs that transition us toward a clean energy economy – all at once.”For years, schools have been hundreds of billions of dollars short of what it would take to bring them into good condition. In 2009, the American Civil Society of Engineers gave U.S. schools a “D” on its national infrastructure report card. According to a recent report by the American Federation of Teachers, it would cost almost $255 billion to fully renovate and repair all the schools in the country. Congress recently endorsed this type of investment by enacting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allows school districts to use funds they receive under the state fiscal stabilization fund for school modernization, renovation and repair projects.
H.R. 2187 would authorize $6.4 billion for school renovation and modernization projects for fiscal year 2010, and would ensure that school districts quickly receive funds for projects that improve schools’ teaching and learning climates, health and safety, and energy efficiency. To further encourage energy efficiency and the use of renewable resources in schools, the legislation would require a percentage of funds be used for school improvement projects that meet widely recognized green building standards. It would require that 100 percent of the funds go toward green projects by 2015 – the final year of funding under the bill. The legislation would also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and help improve local economies. According to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute, the legislation would support 136,000 jobs. Recent studies also show that school quality has a direct, positive impact on residential property values and can improve a community’s ability to attract businesses and workers.
[Source: Committee Press Release]