The Biden administration announced on Wednesday the contours of a $2 trillion plan to repair and improve infrastructure across the nation, including resources to retrofit and construct school facilities.
The American Jobs Plan would include $100 billion in funds for public school upgrades and construction, with $50 billion to be provided through direct grants and $50 billion provided through bonds. The plan also calls for $45 billion to replace lead water pipes nationwide, which the administration says would reduce lead exposure in 400,000 school and child-care facilities.
President Biden spoke of the need for updated school facilities in a press conference on March 25. “How many schools where the kids can’t drink the water out of the fountain? How many schools are still in a position where there’s asbestos? How many schools in America that we are sending our kids to don’t have adequate ventilation?” he asked. “There’s so much we can do that’s good stuff, makes people healthier, and creates good jobs.”
The administration said the priority for school construction funds in the American Jobs Plan is to ensure schools are “safe and healthy places of learning for our kids and work for our teachers and other education professionals, for example by improving indoor air quality and ventilation.” American Jobs Plan funding would also be used for “cutting-edge, energy-efficient and electrified, resilient, and innovative school buildings with technology and labs that will help our educators prepare students to be productive workers and valued students.”
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In addition, the plan says funds could be used to improve school kitchen facilities to produce more nutritious meals and reduce or eliminate the use of disposable materials.
Biden’s proposal faces an uncertain path through Congress and a timeline for action is uncertain given razor-thin margins in the House and Senate and no legislative text yet introduced.
—Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.
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