K-12 Organizations to Congress: Include K-12 School Facilities in New Infrastructure Package
As Congress debates infrastructure proposals, NAESP and other national K-12 organizations are strongly urging the inclusion of direct grants and bonds for K-12 public school facilities.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP), signed into law March 11, 2021, provides $122 billion in direct K-12 funding. The federal support will help schools throughout the country reopen schools safely and keeping them open, implement robust academic recovery interventions, and address student mental health needs. But to unleash ARP’s enormous potential—and enable optimal student learning, Congress must also address an issue that preceded the pandemic: outdated and crumbling K-12 facilities due to decades of underinvestment. The problem is severe and hampers tens of thousands of schools throughout the country. A recent GAO study found that in about one quarter of all school districts, at least half of their schools needed upgrades or replacements to major building systems, such as heating ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, plumbing, wiring, or windows. A leaking roof or HVAC system can cause water damage, exposing students and staff to mold or asbestos.
As Congress debates infrastructure proposals, NAESP and other national K-12 organizations are strongly urging the inclusion of at least $100 billion in direct grants and $30 billion in bonds for K-12 public school facilities, which is consistent with the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2020. NAESP believes investments in school infrastructure should be viewed as complementary to ARP funding and core to the recovery work already underway in schools.
While ARP funds are being deployed to implement layered COVID-19 prevention strategies to support safe school reopenings, to boost academic recovery efforts, and to address student mental health challenges, these are only pieces of a larger student support puzzle. To fully maximize ARP, students also need safe and healthy learning environments. By supporting K-12 infrastructure, Congress can help bring America’s school buildings into the 21st century and provide students the greatest opportunity to recover from this tumultuous period.