According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education and Statistics (NCES), “three-quarters of schools reported needing to spend some money on repairs, renovations, and modernizations to put the school's onsite building into overall good condition.” For those schools reporting to the NCES survey the average investment needed per school was about $2.2 million. The total amount needed nationally is approximately $127 billion.
Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) together with Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN) and Congressman Bob Ethridge (D-NC) have introduced bipartisan legislation titled, America's Better Classroom Act of 2007. The bill would provide approximately $25 billion in interest free bonds for school construction and renovation, has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the past. Our public school system has extraordinary unmet needs for funds to construct and modernize schools. The legislation will provide funds for school modernization projects through a federal tax credit. The tax credit will, in effect, pay the interest on billions of dollars of school modernization bonds. All decisions relating to how those funds would be used would continue to be made at the local level.
In the Senate Senators Rockefeller. Harkin, Kerry, Conrad, Bingaman, Schumer. Johnson, Dodd, Levin, Boxer, Lautenberg, and Menendez have introduced and are co-sponsoring S. 912 America's Better Classroom Act. School facilities are an integral part of raising student performance. The modern and safe schools of the America's Better Classroom Act will help local communities increase the opportunity for all students to meet the achievement objectives of No Child Left Behind and to develop the educational skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century workforce.
Facts Demonstrating the Need for School Construction:
The average age of a public school building in the United States is 42 years.
One-third of all public schools in the United States are in need of extensive repair or replacement.
Four out of ten public schools in the United States report unsatisfactory environmental conditions. Three and a half million students attend schools that need major repair or replacement.
According to a recent estimate from the National Education Association, this year it will cost $442 billion to bring the existing public schools into overall good condition in order to help keep American students competitive. Billions more will be required to construct new schools to meet expanding student enrollments.
The masonry industry encourages Congress to pass legislation to address the need for updated and new infrastructure of America's public schools.