WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congresswoman Elaine Luria recently signed a letter with over 90 of her colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives urging Congressional leadership to prioritize the inclusion of federal dollars to boost school infrastructure nationwide as part of this once-in-a generation investment in the nation’s critical infrastructure.
School districts in Hampton Roads are facing increased costs, aging school infrastructure and an urgent need for schools to alleviate crowded classrooms and ensure adequate ventilation to help reduce COVID-19 transmission. Noting that the crisis with crumbling school infrastructure predates the pandemic, is a threat to the health and well-being of students and teachers, and undermines academic achievement, 91 members of Congress penned a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging the inclusion of at least $100 billion in federal funds to boost school construction.
“Without an upgrade to school facilities, these communities will struggle to implement universal preschool, expand school nutrition programs, achieve climate resiliency, close the digital divide, and recruit and retain educators. Furthermore, failure to adequately invest in school facilities will undermine our march towards racial and economic justice, as these are the communities with the lowest tax bases and fewest resources for capital improvements,” the 91 members of Congress wrote.
Many of the signers of the letter teamed up with Senator Reed and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor Committee, and Congressman Norcross earlier this year to introduce the bicameral Reopen and Rebuild America’s School Act of 2021.
The bill will create a federal-state partnership for school infrastructure. It will provide, over ten years, a total of $130 billion in direct grants and school construction bonds to help fill the annual gap in school facility capital needs, while creating nearly two million jobs.
Specifically, the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act will provide $100 billion in formula funds to states for local competitive grants for school repair, renovation and construction. States will focus assistance on communities with the greatest financial need, encourage green construction practices and expand access to high-speed broadband to ensure that all students have access to digital learning.
The letter was led by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and co-signed by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Richard Durbin (D-Il), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Corey Booker (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Margaret Hassan (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
In the House, the letter was led by Representative Donald Norcross (D-NJ) and co-signed by Betty McCollum (D-MN), Adam Smith (D-WA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Alma Adams (D-NC), Andy Levin (D-MI), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Bill Foster (D-IL), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), André Carson (D-IN), Jaquin Castro (D-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), David Cicilline (D-RI), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Dina Titus (D-NV), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Frank Mrvan (D-IN), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Gregorio Sablan (D-MP), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jason Crow (D-CO), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Joe Morelle (D-NY), John Garamendi (D-CA), Al Lawson (D-FL), Josh Harder (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), Connor Lamb (D-PA), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Marie Newman (D-IL), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Grace Meng (D-NY), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Niekma Williams (D-GA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Susan Wild (D-PA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM) and William R. Keating (D-MA).