Today, Congressman Charles B. Rangel introduced H.R. 1629 - Rebuilding America's Schools Act (RAS), which would increase aid for school construction and renovation across the country.
"Almost half of America's public school buildings were built to educate the baby boomers and are in dire need of repair. The longer we wait to fix our aging schools, the more it will cost our taxpayers to modernize them," said Rangel, who introduced the same bill in 2011.
A State of our Schools Report from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) estimates that schools are currently facing $271 billion in deferred maintenance just to bring the buildings up to working order -- approximately $5,450 per student. Additionally, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America's schools a "D" on its 2013 Infrastructure Report Card.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott's recent announcement that New York City is opening 78 new K-12 schools makes Rangel's bill even more important. More than fifty of the new schools are being financed with funds allocated in the legislation, providing modernized schools for over 20,000 students in the next ten years.
"When schools begin to deteriorate, so does student achievement," said Rangel. "Students learn better in upgraded facilities equipped with technology and resources that help maximize student performance."
This Act will make permanent the Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) and Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) programs, which are two established, cost effective tax credit bond programs that provide federal financing for the construction, renovation, and repair of America's public schools. The QSCB program was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; the QZAB program was first authorized in 1997. The QZAB program was extended to 2013, when Rangel's bill was included in the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
These federal bonds will help finance $400 million in nationwide school modernization projects in 2013, including more than $24 million in New York state alone. President Barack Obama's FY-13 Budget prioritizes this type of infrastructure investment as critical to maintaining American competitiveness in the global economy.