Senator Schatz Introduces Legislation to Improve and Renovate Schools

The School Building Fairness Act Would Help States and School Districts Repair School Infrastructure

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, introduced the School Building Fairness Act of 2015, legislation that would provide federal grants to states and local school districts to help them build, repair, and renovate school facilities.

“When students are in a safe, well-maintained school environment, it improves their ability to learn and gives them a better shot at success.  Today, a majority of our public schools in Hawai‘i and across the country are in disrepair.  It’s unacceptable,” said Senator Schatz.  “My bill invests in our students, giving states and local school districts the resources to build better schools and better futures for every student.” 

In 2014, a report found that a majority of public schools in the country were in need of modernization or repair with the estimated cost totaling $197 billion nationwide.  Today, despite the clear need and poor conditions of many public schools, federal funding is usually not available for school facilities.

The School Building Fairness Act is supported by the U.S. Green Building Council, Rebuild America’s Schools, the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, North America’s Building Trades Unions, the AFL-CIO, Californians for School Facilities, and the Healthy Schools Network, Inc.

“America’s K12 public school infrastructure has modernization needs exceeding $542 billion dollars,” said Rachel Gutter, Director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. “Too many of our school facilities jeopardize our students’ health today and their career success tomorrow.  The School Building Fairness Act outlines a plan for our children to go to school in buildings that cost less to operate, improve their ability to learn, and prepare them for bright futures.”

“Rebuild America's Schools supports the School Building Fairness Act to establish a federal grant program to assist state and local school districts efforts to renovate, repair and modernize the  schools and classrooms where our nation 's students are working to achieve 21st century academic and career success,” said Bob Canavan, Chair of Rebuild America’s Schools. “The financial need to modernize our nation's schools is well beyond the scope of state and local resources.  The School Building Fairness Act contributes important but limited federal resources while supporting state and local efforts and decisions to renovate, repair and modernize local schools.  Rebuild America's Schools thanks Senator Schatz for introducing the School Building Fairness Act.  Rebuild America's Schools looks forward to working with Senator Schatz during the Senate consideration of the School Building Fairness Act.”

“Across our country, too many children walk in to outdated schools with outdated infrastructure and try their best to learn,” said Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions.  “We must do everything we can to help them succeed, and one way to do that is to provide them with the facilities and infrastructure that are conducive to learning.  The School Building Fairness Act introduced by Senator Schatz will achieve this goal,  and North America’s Building Trades Unions stands ready to get to work building the schools today that will educate the leaders of tomorrow.”