H. R. 6028
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 6, 2006
Mr. Owens introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce
To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide grants to improve the infrastructure of elementary and secondary schools.
Grants for school infrastructure improvement
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:
SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION, MODERNIZATION, AND INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT
The Congress finds the following:
There are 48,400,000 students in 95,726 elementary and secondary public schools across the United States. The current Federal expenditure for education infrastructure is $12,000,000. The Federal expenditure per enrolled student for education infrastructure is less than 25 cents. An appropriation of $22,000,000,000 would result in a Federal expenditure for education infrastructure of $454 per student per fiscal year.
The General Accounting Office in 1995 reported that the Nation’s elementary and secondary schools need approximately $112,000,000,000 to repair or upgrade facilities. Increased enrollments and continued building decay has raised this need to an estimated $200,000,000,000. Local education agencies, particularly those in central cities or those with high minority populations, cannot obtain adequate financial resources to complete necessary repairs or construction. These local education agencies face an annual struggle to meet their operating budgets.
According to a 1991 survey conducted by the American Association of School Administrators, 74 percent of all public school buildings need to be replaced. Almost one-third of such buildings were built prior to World War II.
The majority of the schools in unsatisfactory condition are concentrated in central cities and serve large populations of poor or minority students.
In the large cities of America, numerous schools still have polluting coal burning furnaces. Decaying buildings threaten the health, safety, and learning opportunities of students. A growing body of research has linked student achievement and behavior to the physical building conditions and overcrowding. Asthma and other respiratory illnesses exist in above average rates in areas of coal burning pollution.
According to a study conducted by the General Accounting Office in 1995, most schools are unprepared in critical areas for the 21st century. Most schools do not fully use modern technology and lack access to the information superhighway. Schools in central cities and schools with minority populations above 50 percent are more likely to fall short of adequate technology elements and have a greater number of unsatisfactory environmental conditions than other schools.
School facilities such as libraries and science laboratories are inadequate in old buildings and have outdated equipment. Frequently, in overcrowded schools, these same facilities are utilized as classrooms for an expanding school population.
Overcrowded classrooms have a dire impact on learning. Students in overcrowded schools score lower on both mathematics and reading exams than do students in schools with adequate space. In addition, overcrowding in schools negatively affects both classroom activities and instructional techniques. Overcrowding also disrupts normal operating procedures, such as lunch periods beginning as early as 10 a.m. and extending into the afternoon; teachers being unable to use a single room for an entire day; too few lockers for students, and jammed hallways and restrooms which encourage disorder and rowdy behavior.
School modernization for information technology is an absolute necessity for education for a coming CyberCivilization. The General Accounting Office has reported that many schools are not using modern technology and many students do not have access to facilities that can support education into the 21st century. It is imperative that we now view computer literacy as basic as reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Both the national economy and national security require an investment in school construction. Students educated in modern, safe, and well-equipped schools will contribute to the continued strength of the American economy and will ensure that our Armed Forces are the best trained and best prepared in the world. The shortage of qualified information technology workers continues to escalate and presently many foreign workers are being recruited to staff jobs in America.
The purpose of this title is to provide Federal funds to enable local educational agencies to finance the costs associated with the construction, repair, and modernization for information technology of school facilities within their jurisdictions.
Federal assistance in the form of grants
Authority and Conditions for Grants
To assist in the construction, reconstruction, renovation, or modernization for information technology of elementary and secondary schools, the Secretary shall make grants of funds to State educational agencies for the construction, reconstruction, or renovation, or for modernization for information technology, of such schools.
Formula for allocation
From the amount appropriated under section 10006 for any fiscal year, the Secretary shall allocate to each State an amount that bears the same ratio to such appropriated amount as the number of school-age children in such State bears to the total number of school-age children in all the States. The Secretary shall determine the number of school-age children on the basis of the most recent satisfactory data available to the Secretary.
Conditions for Receipt of Grants
In order to receive a grant under this title, a State shall submit to the Secretary an application containing or accompanied by such information and assurances as the Secretary may require. Such applications shall specify the method by which the State educational agency will allocate funds to local educational agencies and the procedures by which projects will be selected for funding. Such applications shall contain assurances that such funds will only be provided if the State educational agency finds that such constructions will be undertaken in an economical manner, and that any such construction, reconstruction, renovation, or modernization is not or will not be of elaborate or extravagant design or materials.
In approving projects for funding under this title, the State educational agency shall consider—
the threat the condition of the physical plant poses to the safety and well-being of students;
the demonstrated need for the construction, reconstruction, renovation, or modernization as based on the condition of the facility;
the age of the facility to be renovated or replaced;
whether the facility is eligible to receive education technology assistance from the National Education Technology Funding Corporation under section 708 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104–104; 110 Stat. 157); and
the needs related to preparation for modern technology.
In approving projects for funding under this title, the State educational agency shall ensure that a public charter school that constitutes a local educational agency under State law is eligible for assistance under the same terms and conditions as any other local educational agency.
Amount and Condition of Grants
A grant to a local educational agency may be in an amount not exceeding the total cost of the facility construction, reconstruction, renovation, or modernization for information technology, as determined by the State educational agency.
The Secretary shall take such action as may be necessary to ensure that all laborers and mechanics employed by contractors or subcontractors on any project assisted under this title—
shall be paid wages at rates not less than those prevailing on the same type of work on similar construction in the immediate locality as determined by the Secretary of Labor in accordance with the Act of March 31, 1931 (Davis-Bacon Act), as amended; and
shall be employed not more than 40 hours in any 1 week unless the employee receives wages for the employee’s employment in excess of the hours specified in paragraph (1) at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which the employee is employed;
As used in this title:
The term school means structures suitable for use as classrooms, laboratories, libraries, and related facilities, the primary purpose of which is the instruction of elementary and secondary school students.
The term State includes the several States of the United States and the District of Columbia.
Authorization of appropriations
There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this title, $10,000,000,000 for fiscal year 2007 and a sum no less than this amount for each of the 4 succeeding fiscal years.