Policy & Funding

House Democrats Introduce $100B School Infrastructure Bill

The Rebuild America's Schools Act is an effort to address physical and digital infrastructure needs in schools across the country.

While schools in the United States aim to deliver a word-class education for students, there is a $46 billion shortfall in annual funding for school building maintenance and digital infrastructure each year nationwide, according to a 2016 report from the 21st Century School Fund. In order to change the paradigm, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the Rebuild America's Schools Act Jan. 30 to invest $100 billion for schools through two programs designed to meet the needs of school facilities that pose health and safety risks to schools and staff.

The legislation creates a $70 billion grant program and a $30 billion tax credit bond program targeted to the needs of schools across the country with decades-old infrastructure issues. The bill is also sponsored Rep. David Norcross (D-N.J.) and has 152 cosponsors in the House.

"The Rebuild America's Schools Act is an important step toward ensuring that every student, regardless of their family's wealth, can attend a safe, welcoming and high-quality public school," said Scott in a statement. "This bill would strengthen our communities today by employing local workers and strengthen our communities in the future by setting a strong foundation for all students to reach their potential."

The legislation will leverage federal, state and local resources for an overall investment of $107 billion and create 1.9 million jobs, according to a fact sheet provided by the House Education and Labor Committee.  The bill also calls for expanding access to high-speed broadband for public schools to ensure that students have internet access speeds that they need for digital learning.

"Many schools were built over half a century ago and the state of America's school infrastructure today is not as strong as it should be. The Rebuild America's Schools Act will help change that by providing a steady source of federal funds to help local schools catch up on overdue repairs, renovation, and new construction.  We need to start responsibly investing today in order to help build the classrooms of tomorrow," said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

At a press conference announcing the bill, Reed said he is working to get bipartisan support on the legislation before moving forward with introducing a similar version in the Senate. Scott also voiced his support for rolling his legislation into a larger infrastructure bill to support America's roads, bridges, seaports and airports. The House version of the legislation is similar to a bill introduced in the 115th legislative session that did not pass the Republican-led House.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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