On Sept. 8, President Obama addressed Congress to announce a plan to help spur job creation and prevent further layoffs. His plan, the American Jobs Act, would provide $30 billion for school modernization projects in at least 35,000 public schools across the nation and $30 billion to prevent approximately 280,000 teacher and school personnel layoffs.
Specifically the plan would provide public K-12 schools with $25 billion, including a priority for rural schools and dedicated funding for Bureau of Indian Education funded schools. In turn, the school repairs and renovation projects would create hundreds of thousands of jobs (for construction workers, engineers, maintenance staff, electrical engineers, etc.).
Permissible uses of funds would include a range of emergency repair and renovation projects, including "greening" and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology in schools.
According to the White House, local districts will also be able to put these funds to work to invest in upgrades to allow schools to continue to serve as centers of the community - from improvements to school ground outdoor learning and play areas to upgrades to shared spaces for adult vocational and job development centers.
Forty percent of the funds would be directed toward the 100 largest high-need public school districts. The remaining 60 percent of funds would be distributed to states to allocate as subgrants; and, states would have flexibility to use those funds to service other high-need districts, including schools in rural areas.
To help school districts retain teachers and other personnel amid state and local budget constraints, the American Jobs Act would support state and local efforts to retain, rehire, and hire as many as 280,000 early childhood, elementary, and secondary educators (including teachers, guidance counselors, classroom assistants, afterschool personnel, tutors, and literacy and math coaches) in the upcoming school year.
NSBA supports the plan and supports Congress' bipartisan efforts to pass such legislation. "In the face of massive budget shortfalls and education layoffs at school districts across the country, this new funding would provide necessary aid to America's schools," said NSBA's Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. "Our school children deserve a quality education and that cannot happen when their teachers are getting laid off and their school buildings are in need of repairs and upgrades that keep getting postponed due to budget cuts."