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House Approves "Green" Schools Bill

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) is the sponsor of the "Green Facilities Act." Here, Rep. Chandler discusses changes at Bourbon Central Elementary School in Paris, Ky. with county superintendent Lana Fryman.

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$6.4 Billion (first year) for Buildings, Facilities, but Also for, Playground Equipment, Greenhouses and Gardens

On May 14, 2009, the House passed H.R. 2187, the "21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act" by a vote of 275-155. The multiyear school construction bill "direct(s) the Secretary of Education to make grants to state educational agencies for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities."

The House approved a similar bill last year, but the Senate did not act on it after President Bush threatened to veto the measure. Bush objected to the cost, as did many Republicans this year. As President Obama has expressed school improvement projects as part of his economic stimulus plan, it's safe to say the Senate will act on the bill this year.

The cost for the first year would be $6.4 billion, with similar amounts approved over the next five years. The measure also approves an additional $600 million over six years for public schools on the Gulf Coast damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The American Federation of Teachers estimates it would require $255 billion to fully renovate and repair all the schools in the country.

A majority of the funds would be used for projects that meet green standards for construction materials and energy sources, including the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system and Energy Star.

The Economic Policy Institute calculates the bill would create 136,000 jobs.

The bill was amended six times before final House approval. Among the amendments was authorizing funding for playground equipment, physical ed facilities, greenhouses and gardens.

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December 14, 2019, 7:49 am PDT

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