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Addressing our local public schools' infrastructure needs

Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, the ranking member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the United States House of Representatives, recently introduced the Rebuilding America’s Schools Act of 2017–legislation that would increase federal resources for public school capital improvements or infrastructure-related expenses.

Schools across our country face challenges associated with depleted infrastructure, many having existing buildings that are inadequate and outdated. The Rebuilding America’s Schools Act would prioritize grants for schools in underserved communities, create a new school infrastructure bond program, expand the existing Qualified Zone Academy Bonds program, promote green building design, and support digital infrastructure. From classrooms with modern broadband connections to state-of-the-art science laboratories and energy efficient green building design, the bill would help address these types of educational needs and support long-term goals for sustainability.

The Rebuilding America’s Schools Act, however, would also expand existing federal law governing labor standards requirements and make them applicable to school bond programs. While the increase in federal resources to address many priorities for safe and healthy learning environments is welcomed, school boards should uphold the right to pursue the most efficient and cost-effective means of delivering education and related services, including contracts with outside providers. In addition, local school boards should retain all necessary decision-making authority when contracting with private companies in the operation of public schools.

NSBA will continue to work with lawmakers to address our concerns with the bill and to advocate to ensure that students everywhere have access to a great public education where they live.

For more information you can read our letter to the Honorable Robert C. “Bobby” Scott at https://www.nsba.org/nsba-letter-school-infrastructure-legislation-rebuilding-americas-schools-act and the legislation at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2475

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