Bipartisan spending bill seeks extensive assessment of US school buildings
- Three U.S. senators have added an amendment to a pending Department of Education spending bill requiring the Government Accountability Office to study the state of the country's school infrastructure, including Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, heating systems and levels of toxic substances, explains The 74. The bipartisan amendment would require the report to be completed 18 months after the bill was adopted.
- The last such study, which recommended $112 billion in needed repairs, was conducted in 1995.
- The condition of U.S. schools has been under scrutiny in recent years, with reports of lack of a heat in winter, unsafe levels of lead and asbestos, and even rodents in buildings.
America's school buildings are, by and large, old. And that fact presents issues that can affect not only the health and wellness of students, but the ability of teachers to teach. President Trump has elevated the flaws of U.S. infrastructure, but the administration's infrastructure incentive plan released in February did not cover schools.
The scope of the problem, experts note, has flown under the public's radar, somewhat given that the upkeep of schools has traditionally fallen under local jurisdiction. Indeed, some states and district leaders are already grabbing the reins to make repairs and improvements to school facilities. A task force in Rhode Island has recommended a system of targeted increases to the state's share of school construction projects to include issuing $500 million in state general obligation bonds for public school construction and repair over the next 10 years. The plan is a response to the state's recent study, The State of Rhode Island Schoolhouses, which identified $2.2 billion in facility deficiency costs.
Pennsylvania, meanwhile, will be anteing up $7.6 million for lead paint abatement in Philadelphia schools. Neighboring New Jersey is also grappling with lead in school buildings, as are schools across the country in Oregon. It was a determined and concerned mom of two young students in Portland who succeeded in pushing officials there to pay a certified firm to repaint lead-tainted surfaces.
- The 74 Million Facing a ‘Really Big Issue,’ Senators Push for First Federal Survey of the Condition of U.S. Schools Since 1995
- U.S. News & World Report Will Trump Help Rebuild America's Schools?
- RI.gov The State of Rhode Island Schoolhouses
- USA Today What Freehold Borough Schools Found When They Screened Kids for Lead
- Portland schools struggle with more potent toxic scare: lead paint Oregon Live