U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) have signed on as original co-sponsors to the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (S. 266), a bill that would provide $100 billion in federal resources to rebuild and modernize schools throughout the nation and Maryland. Maryland public schools have an estimated $4 billion backlog in capital improvement needs.
“Our children should not be forced to make do with public schools without drinkable water, air conditioning or access to the Internet; they deserve modern learning environments,” said Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Maintaining old school buildings means fewer dollars for classroom instruction and academic supports for students. I am proud to introduce this legislation to provide our neediest school districts with resources necessary to meet their school construction and modernization needs. Our children deserve nothing less.”
The legislation provides $70 billion over 10 years in formula funds to states for local competitive grants for school repair, renovation and construction. These grants focus assistance on communities with the greatest financial need, encourage green construction practices, expand access to high-speed broadband to ensure that all students have access to digital learning, contain state matching criteria, and outline permissible criteria for spending. The bill also includes the following.
● Provides $30 billion for Qualified School Infrastructure Bonds, $10 billion each fiscal year from 2020 to 2022.
● Invests in American jobs by requiring the use of American-made iron, steel and manufactured products.
● Reinstates and Expands Qualified Zone Academy Bonds for use on school construction.
● Requires the Government Accountability Office to report on projects carried out within two years after enactment with periodic updates.
● Ensures a federal comprehensive study of the physical condition of public schools at least once.