Rep. Baca Introduces Bill to Give Schools Energy Relief
Today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) introduced legislation to help school districts pay for skyrocketing fuel costs. The School Energy Crisis Relief Act directs the Secretary of Energy to establish a grant program that will provide funds to assist school districts with increased energy costs.
"At a time when soaring gas and energy prices are creating budget shortfalls for many school districts, America cannot afford to compromise the education of our nation's children," said Rep. Baca. "We must provide relief to those school districts who are most in need."
The School Energy Crisis Relief Act authorizes the Department of Energy to issue funding grants that would provide relief to school districts impacted by rising fuel costs. Funds would be awarded to states based on population and gas prices, and distributed to the school districts considered most in need of assistance. This need would be determined through the use of a specific formula that accounts for child poverty statistics and local fuel cost increases.
"The fluctuating gas prices we have seen over the last few years threaten to exhaust the budgets of too many school districts across our nation," commented Rep. Baca. "As a result, precious education dollars are being spent to fill the tanks of school buses and to heat classrooms."
A large school bus averages only 4 to 5 miles per gallon of gasoline. Therefore, the rapid increase in diesel fuel costs has become a significant burden on school budgets. School districts are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more to fuel busses than they were even two or three years ago. Heating costs have also become a burden, with many districts facing massive deficits because of outrageous winter heating bills.
"If we don't help school districts cover their energy costs, student transportation and learning will suffer," concluded Rep. Baca. "My legislation will help California's school districts weather the current increase in fuel costs and prevent cuts to programs critical to student success."
Rep. Baca introduced similar legislation in the 109th Congress that was supported by the American Federation of Teachers, the National School Boards Association, and the Council of the Great City Schools.