Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Package; Education Advocates Eye Reconciliation
After months of negotiation, the Senate reached a bipartisan compromise and passed a national infrastructure bill on August 10.
How Does This Bill Impact K–12 Education?
Although the Senate’s bill primarily funds construction projects, roads, highways, bridges, and other elements traditionally associated with “infrastructure,” it does include a few provisions to assist K–12 schools, including:
- $500 million to support energy-efficiency improvements and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities
- $500 million to support increasing transportation energy efficiency for school buses and mass transit
- $200 million to support testing and remediation of lead contamination in drinking water at schools and childcare programs
- $75 million in grants to promote the introduction of recycling principles and best practices into public school curricula
- $5 billion (FY 2022–26) to support a Clean School Bus Program
What’s the Catch?
Regrettably for educators and students, the vast majority of the $100 billion in new funding for K–12 schools originally proposed in the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan was left out of this compromise bill.
However, hope remains for incorporating a substantial new investment in school facilities in additional pending legislation. As the bipartisan bill now moves to the House for consideration, congressional Democrats are crafting a roughly $3.5 trillion package they hope to move alongside the bipartisan bill via the reconciliation process that would address many of the priorities left out of the agreement.
What Can School Leaders Do?
It remains to be seen if members of Congress will include K–12 facilities funding in the reconciliation bill—making this a critical moment for school leaders to take action.
The American Jobs Plan included $100 billion for K–12 facilities for a reason: The most underserved schools in our country need significant upgrades to deliver the best education, and many are actually unsafe for students and staff. New HVAC systems are urgently needed in many buildings, plumbing needs to be replaced to reduce lead exposure and provide safe drinking water, and outdated buildings need to be upgraded to meet the demands of delivering a 21st-century education.
Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to support including $100 billion for schools in the reconciliation bill. You can send a powerful message with just a few clicks today by using this NASSP Policy & Advocacy Center campaign.
THIS MONTH’S TOP ADVOCACY ISSUES
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This bill provides a substantial and important investment, but the vast majority of funding originally proposed for K-12 schools was left out. We need to urge Congress to add that back into the separate reconciliation bill: https://p2a.co/5rGsntY #SchoolsAreInfrastructure
As President Biden and congressional leaders push for a large national infrastructure package, educators must make their voices heard and ensure that schools facilities are included in any legislation. https://bit.ly/3xhVQHj #PrincipalsAdvocate
After five years, Zach Scott is leaving the NASSP Policy & Advocacy Center team. Congratulations on your new career opportunity, Zach, and thank you for all your hard work on Capitol Hill advocating for school leaders and the students they serve!
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