AASA and BASIC Applaud House Leadership for Including School Infrastructure in Proposed Economic Stimulus Package

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AASA and BASIC Applaud House Leadership for Including School Infrastructure in Proposed Economic Stimulus Package

Today, June 18, 2020, AASA and the [Re]Build America's School Infrastructure Coalition (BASIC) released a statement applauding House leaderships' decision to introduce HR2, the Infrastructure and Economic Stimulus package. If the measure passes, the Act will infuse $100 billion in grants and $30 billion in bond authority for high-poverty schools that need upgrades to their buildings for safety. Specifically, the measure includes the following provisions:  

 

  • Allocates funds to states in proportion with the dollars that districts receive under Title I. Additionally, under this provision states must match 10 percent of the funds within 10-years of the act.
  • Includes language that mandates states have a public online database that outlines the condition of all public school facilities in the state.
  • Awards need-based grants to districts based on the poverty level of the school, limitations to raise funds to improve school facilities, and the greatest demonstrated need.
  • Allots fiscal 2020 program dollars for efforts related to reopening schools in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health guidelines. This money can be used to improve digital learning, including expanding access to high-speed broadband.
  • Prohibits funding for activities related to improving central offices, athletic stadiums, or other buildings that are not primarily used for instruction and for events where admission is charged to the general public. 
In a statement, the group said, "This is a good day for public education. Adding federal support to local and state efforts to modernize and build our public school infrastructure is long overdue. With these federal funds, our states and districts will be able to make progress on four pressing issues that confront public education." 
 
In response to the House's decision, Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA stated "The backlog of construction, renovation and repair work in our nation's public schools has been well known for years and easily exceeds billions of dollars. And that was before a world pandemic shut the schools down and forced a critical conversation about ensuring the schools are ready to safely and healthily greet our students when they reopen this fall. The need was well documented in a GAO report issued just this month, which found that approximately half of public school districts need to update or replace multiple building systems or features in their schools. Highlighting the importance of this need and the critical role of federal support in response to both the need and the COVID pandemic, an estimated 41 percent of districts reported needing to update or replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in at least half of their schools. By including the Rebuild America's Schools Act in HR 2, Congress provides immediate relief to help districts in their efforts to reopen this fall while also creating jobs hard hit by economic downturn and addressing structural inequities in the existing K12 public education infrastructure." 
 
As of now, the measure is expected to stall in the Republican controlled Senate. That said, AASA will continue advocating for this funding so our members can upgrade their school facilities. Also, check out the full details on the BASIC's response by clicking here.

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