Summer is a busy time on school and university campuses, with many institutions working on construction projects.
Education institutions have been in construction mode for some time. Over the past 10 years, more than $356 billion worth of new construction, additions and modernization projects were completed ($224 billion at school districts and $132 billion at higher-education institutions). But even with all the spending, the need for additional construction funding to add classrooms, address health and safety issues, and improve existing learning environments remains significant. It is estimated that school districts alone require upwards of $320 billion.
In light of this, school construction funding again is getting attention at the federal level. Last month, legislation was reintroduced to help school districts finance new construction and modernization projects. The Investing for Tomorrow's Schools Act, sponsored by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), proposes creating State Infrastructure Banks to improve financing for school construction.
The bill would allow schools to secure loans through the banks for projects that address enrollment growth, increase physical safety and create an infrastructure to support technology. Schools districts could finance construction projects with low-interest loans, bond-financing security, loan guarantees and credit support for lower interest rates.
This financing mechanism was pioneered by the Reagan Administration to help local communities fund water treatment and clean-water facilities, and used by the Clinton Administration to help states finance transportation projects.
Federal involvement in school construction has been a tough sell over the years. Whether this bill will have any success will depend on the political atmosphere over the next few months. But legislators must understand that there is a need for additional education-construction funding options to address the nation's school infrastructure crisis — and any assistance will be welcome.
Red, yellow, blue, orange? Let's talk GREEN!
Green is taking over. You see it in the grocery store, the home-improvement warehouse, and on your TV, as products tout their green-ness. We know it's happening in education institutions, too, and we want to recognize your efforts to reduce chemical exposure, protect the health of your staff, extend the life of buildings and protect the environment.
American School & University's Green Cleaning Award Program will recognize the efforts of schools around the nation to move forward with green cleaning.
Created in conjunction with the Healthy Schools Campaign (www.healthyschoolscampaign.org) and the Green Cleaning Network (www.GreenCleaningNetwork.org), the award honors schools, universities and their partners that embrace green principles and practices.
Don't be left out. Fill out the application today at asumag.com/green_cleaning_award. Winners will be recognized in our December issue, and on the web, of course. And speaking of the web, be sure to subscribe to our free e-newsletter, Green School & University.
— Susan Lustig