On January 30, 2019, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), and Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) introduced a landmark piece of legislation, the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 865), proposing to invest $100 billion in rebuilding America’s public schools.
How does the bill work?
The Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R.865) would fund $70 billion in grants and $30 billion in bonds to help address critical physical and digital infrastructure needs in schools across the country. According to economic projections, the bill would also create more than 1.9 million good-paying jobs (1). This Act proposes to:
- Create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond program targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff.
- Leverage federal, state, and local resources for an overall investment of $107 billion, creating over 1.9 million jobs, based on an Economic Policy Institute analysis that each $1 billion spent on construction creates 17,785 jobs.
- Develop a comprehensive national database on the condition of public school facilities; such a national database currently does not exist and would provide much-needed insight into the condition of our public schools.
- Expand access to high-speed broadband to ensure that public schools have the reliable and high-speed Internet access they need for digital learning.
What does this mean for Pennsylvania public schools?
According to projections by the [Re]Build America’s School Infrastructure Coalition, BASIC, if the Rebuild America’s Schools Act were to pass, Pennsylvania schools can expect to see:
|Total Federal Funding:||$4.03B ($2,481/student)|
Taken from BASIC’s Opportunities page (2).
According to our State of the Schools Report, pulling data from over 150 public school districts in Western Pennsylvania, the average school building was built in 1952, with the oldest one in the study built in 1879. This means that the average age of our school buildings, 67 years, is over 2 decades older than the national average (45 years old). The largest federal funding increase for school improvement projects was in 2009 (3). To read more about the environmental health of our schools, check out our free report here.
What can I do to support this bill?
The Rebuild America’s Public Schools Act will be the first commitment of federal funds for public school buildings since the 1980s. You and your schools can champion this important piece of legislation and give it momentum to move forward. We need to advocate for healthy schools for every child – more and more research confirms that the environments in which kids learn is proven to affect their health, their thinking, and their performance.
There are several steps you can take to show your support for this bill!
- Get your school or district to join the BASIC Coalition to stay up-to-date on the progress of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act!
- Send letters in support or written testimony for the Rebuild America’s School Act legislation to Loredana.Valtierra@mail.house.gov with subject line, Support for Rebuild America’s School Act by Feb. 23rd to be included in the public hearing taking place on Feb. 12th.
- Is your school or district constructing or renovating their school buildings? Partner with Healthy Schools PA to receive free technical assistance and consulting to ensure that students and staff health is protected during these capital improvement projects.