The Islamic Post Blog

‘Green Schools’ Bill: Proposes Opportunities and Oversight by ipinfo2
December 8, 2012, 12:14 am
Filed under: 2009 June Vol. 1, Politics, Uncategorized

June Vol. 1, 2009

By Jannah A. Malik

Recently the House passed a bill for the purpose of modernizing, renovating, and repairing public school facilities. The bill, which encourages the creation of clean and healthy environments for schoolchildren, would also promote energy conservation, while at the same time producing thousands of jobs. Passing 275 to 155, the bill will now go to the Senate. If approved it would allot a starting amount of $6.4 billion within the first year and similar amounts throughout the next five years.
The bill states that the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, shall work with recipients of funds under this Act to promote appropriate opportunities for participants in a YouthBuild program, as well as using existing Job Corps members and individuals enrolled in a junior or community college. The text of the bill cites the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and the Higher Education Act of 1965 as justification to offer “employment experience on modernization, renovation, repair, and construction projects” funded under the bill.
A separate $600 million would be approved under the act within a six year period for public schools in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi that were damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
By the year 2015, 100% of funds available for green building projects would have to meet ‘green standards’ for energy sources as well as construction materials. Amongst the companies that provide the necessary materials according to these standards or guidelines are: EnergyStar, Green Globes, and the Leadership and Environmental Design (Leed) Green building rating system.
Supporters of the bill spoke about the pressing need for funds for repairs in schools. Rep. John Hall (D-NY) stated: “America’s aging schools are in dire need of assistance. I am a former trustee and school board president. I have seen it. Buildings are crumbling while school districts are having trouble paying their energy bills. This bill would help school districts invest in repairs, construction and green modernization without passing the burden on to local taxpayers who in New York, I know, can’t afford any more property tax.”
In opposition some expressed great concern over the cost of the bill. “No one is going to argue in favor of a less-than-perfect physical structure for students,” said Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) “But what I believe we need to argue is how do you pay for that. And again, I believe very strongly that we, as a federal government, have reached way too far into so many different areas.”
Allowing for oversight, however, the bill states in its text that: “Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study to determine, and report to the Congress on, the extent and types of projects in keeping with the uses of funds authorized under this Act being undertaken in schools around the United States, the geographic distribution of green, high-performing schools in the United States, including by urban, suburban, and rural areas, and the relative access to such schools of the demographic groups described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.”
Objecting to the cost of the new school construction plan, former President George W. Bush threatened to veto the bill last year. Similar legislation was also not passed by the Senate. The bill’s sponsors, however, are more hopeful of its enactment due to President Barack Obama’s making school improvement projects one of his many priorities.



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