School leaders, advocates and educators were left dazed as Democrats eventually excluded the $100 billion funding Biden had set aside for school modernization. The amount was part of Biden’s trillion-dollar “Build Back Better” family and infrastructure support package.
Advocates who have been calling out for federal investment in school facilities hoped that the time has finally come for the government to prioritize the country’s K-12 system. Especially since it was only during the Great Depression that the government made a significant investment in America’s school facilities. Schools have not been given much priority by the federal government even though they represent the second largest infrastructure costs after highways.
Disharmony Among Democratic Members Led to Exclusion of School Modernization Budget
The exclusion of the funding was borne out of the disharmony within the Democratic party’s moderate and progressive sectors. At first, the once $100 billion proposal was reduced to $82 billion in September. Yet what surprised everyone was its complete removal from list of items up for budget reconciliation approval last week. As a result, the reconciliation budget approved by Congress, and sent to the President Biden for signing does not include a budget for school modernization projects.
According to this year’s “State of Our School” report, which analyzes the U.S.’ public school facilities, the country is underfunded by $85 billion annually in meeting the needs of in school grounds and buildings. The burdens of school construction costsIt are usually shouldered by local school districts. Unlike projects for highways, bridges, and roads that receive both federal and state financial support.
From 2009 to 2019, local districts took care 77% of the costs of capital school infrastructure project. Only eight states covered more than half of what the local district paid, while 11 states practically did not pay for anything at all. That is considering that the federal government contributes 1% that usually goes to rebuilding after getting school infrastructures are hit by natural disasters.
According to the president and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute Rachel Hogdon, there is an obvious disparity at a federal level. Hogdon added that there is a lot of money allocated onto bridges and roads that does not impact the places where children study.