BASIC, [Re] Build America's School Infrastructure Coalition, has urged Congress to enact into law Division K of HR2, passed by the House, which is the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act (RRASA) and would authorize $100 billion for long-standing school infrastructure.
"But the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need to reopen and operate schools safely, requires an additional and immediate appropriation for emergency repair funds," says the organization.
According to BASIC, the US's public schools need an immediate federal investment of $10 billion for emergency building repairs and system renewals for public schools located in highest poverty communities. The organization is urging Congress to include e $10 billion for emergency school facilities repairs in the next COVID-19 emergency relief package.
The $10 billion in emergency funds "should be targeted to at least 14,000 schools that serve children from the lowest income families, and are in the poorest condition. This $10 billion program would provide an average of about $700,000 per school and should go to school districts directly to ensure a safe and timely reopening," says BASIC.
There are two ways to operationalize this so that funding is targeted and gets to these schools quickly, writes BASIC
- Allocate the $10 billion by state according to the Title I formula with a set aside for Impact Aid and taking into account geographic diversity, and disperse the funds directly to school districts for their schools with 75 percent or more students are eligible for free lunch and have facilities in the greatest need.
- Allocate the $10 billion to every school district with public schools located in the Opportunity Zones OZs (3,049 school districts and 14,000 schools) with a set-aside for Impact Aid.
BASIC cited a recent GAO study, which examines the condition of US public schools, that found " that thousands of school districts have at least half of their schools in need of updates or replacements of key building systems or features. The poor mechanical, plumbing, electrical, roof, windows, and other systems and components reported on have a detrimental impact on the health and safety of the staff and students in schools."