WASHINGTON, D.C. — As President Obama travels to central Ohio today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced new jobs legislation that would support an estimated 12,800 Ohio jobs through the modernization, renovation, and repair of Ohio schools. The average U.S. public school building is 40 years old and conservative estimates of deferred school maintenance and repair nationwide total at least $270 billion. Brown released county-by-county report on the 55 Ohio school districts that are in need of significant repairs and the more than 100 school districts with construction projects currently underway or recently completed.
“The FAST Act is about putting Ohioans to work by ensuring that our children learn in a safe, productive environment. Too many school districts – that have already been forced to cut budgets and lay off teachers – cannot afford physical improvements to schools. Meanwhile, an increasing share of their budgets – and Ohioans’ property taxes – is devoted to heating drafty schools,” Brown said. “The FAST Act would help states and local school districts make critical repairs to existing facilities or supplement their current maintenance efforts. This bill is about jobs – but it’s also about our education and our nation’s future.”
Brown outlined details of The Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act, legislation that would create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs for construction workers and skilled laborers while generating new savings through energy conservation and efficiency improvements. Brown’s legislation, which is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), provides 40 percent of the funds to the 100 largest high-need school districts in the U.S. The remaining 60 percent is split among state departments of education to administer through competitive grants. Ohio school districts would apply for funding through a competitive grant process run by the Ohio Department of Education.
Specifically, the FAST Act would provide funds to school districts to:
• improve air quality with updates to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems;
• remove mold and reduce energy costs with roof replacement and repair;
• support technology, mechanical systems, and electricity with an electrical system modernization;
• reduce water consumption, eliminate lead in water, upgrade bathrooms and plumbing;
• eliminate allergy and asthma triggers, contain or eliminate asbestos, and repair plaster and painting;
• replace windows to save on energy usage; and
• install solar panels, wind generators, and geothermal or other clean energy generators.
Brown’s FAST Act is included in the legislative package President Obama is highlighting in Columbus today. As outlined in the American Jobs Act, Ohio could receive up to $985,500,000 in funding for K-12 schools—to support as many as 12,800 jobs—and an additional $259,300,000 for Ohio Community Colleges. Included in this amount are direct funds for four of Ohio’s largest school districts.
School District Potential Funding
Cleveland Municipal School District $129.6 million
Columbus City School District $111.6 million
Cincinnati City School District $61.1 million
Toledo City School District $54.3 million
It is estimated that for every $1 billion invested in school construction between 9,000 to 10,000 jobs are created. According to the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC), 103 school districts are in the process of constructing or renovating school buildings or have undergone recent renovations. Another 55 school districts have construction needs – and were offered resources from OSFC– but were unable to meet the local match. According to the Blue Green Alliance, modernizing our schools can save $100,000 a year in maintenance costs – enough for two new teachers, 200 more computers, and 5,000 textbooks.
The FAST Act has already been endorsed by: Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Education Association, Columbus Education Association, Building and Construction Trades, AFL-CIO, National Construction Alliance II, United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America, International Union of Operating Engineers, Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council, the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and the PTA.