With COVID-19 spread beginning to recede, and state legislatures firming up K-12 spending for next year, school officials and policy makers are confronting a thorny perennial challenge: maintaining and improving school buildings so they’re safe and appealing for students, staff, and the broader public to visit daily.
It’s a formidable task, given the dismal state of school buildings and the hundreds of billions of dollars in repairs that would be necessary to fix them. State funding for school construction varies widely, with a handful of states providing no support. Local funding for complex projects often hinges on a strong property tax base and the ability to levy additional taxes from voters—putting high-poverty areas at a disadvantage.
President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators proposed an infrastructure plan that does not include funding for school buildings. Many Democrats hope to pair the bipartisan agreement with a bigger investment package, which could include school funding. It’s unclear whether that proposal will materialize and gain enough support to pass along party lines in the Senate.
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