WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) have signed on as original cosponsors to the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (S. 266), a bill that would provide $100 billion in federal resources to rebuild and modernize schools throughout the nation and Maryland. Maryland public schools have an estimated $4 billion backlog in capital improvement needs. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced the Rebuild America’s Schools Act yesterday.
“Our children should not be forced to make do with public schools without drinkable water, air conditioning, or access to the internet; they deserve modern learning environments,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Maintaining old school buildings means fewer dollars for classroom instruction and academic supports for students. I am proud to introduce this legislation to provide our neediest school districts with resources necessary to meet their school construction and modernization needs. Our children deserve nothing less.”
“In order to provide a quality education to our students, schools must have the resources and the facilities they need. This legislation provides crucial funding to schools in Maryland and across the country – ensuring our students are able to learn in a safe, clean, and up-to-date environment. I am proud to introduce this legislation to invest in our students’ futures, and I will continue working to provide Maryland’s students and schools with the tools to succeed,” said Senator Van Hollen.
The legislation provides $70 billion over 10 years in formula funds to states for local competitive grants for school repair, renovation, and construction. These grants focus assistance on communities with the greatest financial need, encourage green construction practices, expand access to high-speed broadband to ensure that all students have access to digital learning, contain state matching criteria, and outline permissible criteria for spending. The bill also:
- Provides $30 billion for Qualified School Infrastructure Bonds (QSIBs), $10 billion each for FY 2020 through FY 2022.
- Invests in American jobs by requiring the use of American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products.
- Reinstates and Expands Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) for use on school construction.
- Requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on projects carried out within two years after enactment with periodic updates.
- Ensures a federal comprehensive study of the physical condition of public schools at least once.
Numerous education organizations and associations support the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, including the American Federation of Teachers, Council of Great City Schools, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Education Association, and the National PTA.
Joining Cardin and Van Hollen in introducing the legislation are Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-N.H.), Maize Hirono ((D-Hawaii), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).