06.22.20

What People Are Saying: Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act

Investing in America’s School Infrastructure is a Critical Part of the Moving Forward Act

WASHINGTON – The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which was included in the Moving Forward Act infrastructure package, invests $130 billion targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that endanger the health and safety of students and educators. This investment will help students get back to school and create over 2 million jobs to help workers get back to work. Here’s what people are saying about it: 

21st Century School Fund Executive Director Mary Filardo: “We applaud the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Scott for including RASA in H.R. 2. Adding federal support to local and state efforts to modernize and build our public school infrastructure is long overdue. H.R. 2 will make it possible to take immediate steps to open and operate our facilities safely, and to make long term investments to deliver 21st century facilities for all children." 

NAFIS Executive Director Hilary Goldmann: “The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools strongly supports the inclusion of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act in the INVEST in America Act. NAFIS especially applauds the inclusion of the Impact Aid construction program as Title IV of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. Public schools are a critical piece of our nation’s infrastructure, and school facilities directly impact students’ health and ability to learn. The infrastructure needs in federally impacted school districts are especially urgent. In a 2017 study, NAFIS identified over $4.2 billion in pressing infrastructure needs – including emergency repairs necessary to protect the health and safety of students and educators – in 218 districts alone. An investment in schools is an investment in our nation’s future.” 

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García: “For far too long we have chronically underfunded our schools and as a result, many students and educators are stuck with unwelcoming to even hazardous learning environments. On a daily basis, public schools largely in rural and urban areas – and too often schools serving primarily Black and Hispanic communities - face numerous infrastructure challenges, ranging from moldy ceiling tiles to inoperable heating and cooling systems and more. That is why as America’s educators focus on what it will take to safely reopen school buildings this fall, it is critical that Congress pass the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act. In addition to making our schools safer for students and educators, this would help communities hard hit by the ongoing economic crisis to create good jobs across America and help address some of the structural inequities in our nation’s public school infrastructure. 

National School Boards Association Executive Director and CEO Anna Maria Chávez: “As our public school boards work to reopen schools safely for our students, educators, and communities, school districts may be considering infrastructure modernization and expansion projects to comply with public health and social distancing requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act would create needed opportunities to equip more classrooms with modern broadband connections, provide resources for state-of-the-art science laboratories, and facilitate energy efficient green building design – all of which help advance equity and excellence in public education for our nation’s more than 50 million schoolchildren.”

American Federation of School Administrators President Ernest Logan: "School infrastructure is a major problem that can wait no longer for a solution. With the average public school over 50 years old, the need to update and make safer our 100,000 public K–12 school facilities across the country has reached a critical juncture. Each day, thousands of students and educators attend buildings with rotting floors and ceilings, inadequate heating and air conditioning, surrounded by mold and other irritants—all making for less than optimal learning and teaching conditions. If we want our children to have a world class education, we need to provide world class schools." 

School Superintendents Association Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech “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.” 

KABOOM! President & CEO James Siegal “School facilities are more than the four walls of a classroom. At their best, they are essential neighborhood assets that serve as kid-friendly gathering places, are hallmarks of a resilient community, and provide one of the fundamental aspects of childhood – a great place to play.“

American Society of Interior Designers Vice President Government & Public Affairs Bryan J. Soukup:  “COVID-19, in conjunction with other challenges we face in school settings like school safety, social justice, occupant health, and sustainability, will require America to completely rethink the way schools are designed, renovated, and built. As leaders in the effort to revolutionize these spaces, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and our members urge Congress to invest in education by including the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (RASA) in an infrastructure and economic stimulus package and appropriating $20 billion per-year over the next five years for school facilities.” 

USGBC Director of the Center for Green Schools Anisa Heming: "America's students and teachers deserve school environments that protect their health and use today's best practices for building efficiency. With all that our schools are being asked to manage in support of their local communities right now, the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council believes that the funding that this bill provides for school infrastructure is a critical need.” 

Healthy Schools Network Executive Director Claire L. Barnett: “No child should need to tell a parent “I can’t breathe” in school. But too many children of color in low income communities do that daily.  For decades America’s schools have left millions of children short of clean air and left behind in inadequate buildings, eroding their ability to think. In 1995 the US GAO said the conditions of our schools put 13 million children at risk. Today, we regard ALL children at risk. The new US GAO report underscores the need to address ventilation, roofing, and molds, all tied to indoor air. In this tragic pandemic year, the poorest children returning to the poorest schools in the hardest hit COVID-19 communities need the resources promised by the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. All children need clean air in school.” 

ASBO International Executive Director David Lewis "School leaders’ top priority for reopening in a COVID-19 climate is to keep students, staff, and communities safe. Whether they can effectively do this depends on the resources available to support them, which the Rebuild America's Schools Act would provide. Facility repairs and upgrades that improve air quality, encourage better hygiene, and reduce exposure to health hazards not only protect those who return this fall, but are an investment in the health of generations to come. If we want our children to learn and succeed, they must be safe and healthy." 

Education Market Association President & CEO Jim McGarry: “Equity in education is vital to the success of all students. The passage of Rebuild America’s Schools Act (RASA) will help level the playing field for communities by investing in education facilities that better prepare students for a future that requires 21stCentury skill sets.” 

North American Association for Environmental Education Director of Policy Sarah Bodor “All children deserve to breathe clean air and drink clean water and have access to vibrant outdoor spaces to learn and play at school. RASA will provide resources for critical improvements to school buildings and grounds in districts that need it most. Making sure that all students have safe and healthy indoor and outdoor environments for learning is essential to student success and well-being.” 

National Association of Elementary School Principals Executive Director Dr. Earl Franks: “It shouldn’t matter where a student attends school: the school building should be safe, up-to-date, and free from health risks. But for too many students that’s not the case. Many school buildings across the country were built decades ago and are outdated, deteriorating, and potentially unsafe. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act would provide much needed support to districts and schools to make upgrades and improvements to school facilities and create learning environments that are conducive for students to learn and thrive.”

The School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite: "School districts across the nation are in desperate need of federal infrastructure funding to fix aging buildings and outfit facilities to meet the demands of a 21st century education. The School District of Philadelphia includes more than 200 school buildings, half of which are more than 70 years old, with some more than 120 years old. Federal infrastructure funding would allow us to remediate asbestos from all student and staff occupied spaces, certify every school as lead safe, and begin to address our $4.5 billion in deferred maintenance all while helping to get residents back to work and our economy growing again. I applaud the U.S. House of Representatives’ efforts to move legislation forward and I urge the U.S. Senate to quickly do the same." 

Rebuild America’s Schools Chair Bob Canavan: “Rebuild America’s Schools looks forward to working with Speaker Pelosi, Chairnman Scott, Chairman Defazio, and Chairman Neal to advance H.R. 2 as an infrastructure and economic stimulus package providing much needed essential investments in our nations infrastructure and school facilities. Grants for local school districts combined with equally needed infrastructure bonds for public education will greatly assist local communities respond to immediate and necessary facility modifications, renovations, and repairs to re-open safely for students, teachers, and staff in a changing COVID 19 environment.” 

To read the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act fact sheet, click here.

To read the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act section-by-section, click here.

To read the Moving Forward Act fact sheet, click here.

 

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