by Claris Olson, HSC Environmental Health Specialist
After years of dwindling school budgets for building maintenance, renovation, and improvements, the importance of America’s Better Classroom Act (H.R. 2470 in the House and S. 912 in the Senate) has never been greater.
According to government estimates, 43 percent of America’s public schools have at least one unsatisfactory environmental building condition.
Mold, leaking ceilings, pest infestations, hazardous chemicals, and overcrowded classrooms are just a few of the unsafe conditions that create health risks to students and staff in tens of thousands of old and new schools across the nation.
America’s Better Classroom Act would address these unhealthy conditions. The bill allocates $25 billion in bond authority for special local school construction bonds that could be used for public school construction, rehabilitation, building repair, or the purchase of land on which to build a new public school.
The federal government will pay the entire interest on these bonds, a subsidy worth up to 40 percent of the cost of the bond. The decision about the use of the bond is up to the local authorities.
We support this effort but would love to see a requirement or some type of incentive for building schools which are energy efficient and promote a healthy environment. Healthy, energy-efficient schools are better for the students and teachers, protect the environment and have lower operational costs.
Ask your senators and representative to support America’s Better Classroom Act to help make our schools healthier and safer places to learn and work.