Biden Administration Announces $500 Million Program to Improve K-12 School Buildings

The Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure program will target schools whose dilapidated buildings will benefit from energy upgrades.

The White House is looking to improve school buildings for the youngest Americans. The new Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy has announced a $500 million grant program for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program is designed to help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms to the more than three million teachers and 50 million students in US schools.

The nation’s 100,000 public K-12 schools managed to earn only  a D+ rating from The American Society of Civil Engineers. In their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure report, the organization stressed that poor quality school facilities can negatively affect student learning and health. Indoor air quality problems can aggravate respiratory illnesses, reduce student and teacher attendance and performance, and increase risk of transmission of respiratory infections like COVID-19.

Energy consumption is the second-highest operational expense schools face. Schools lose money due to energy loss from leaky school walls, windows, and other inefficient equipment and systems. It’s often the poorest districts that suffer the most.  Rural, high poverty, or African American, Latino, and Native American communities experience the greatest burden of failing or antiquated school facilities.

The Biden-Harris program makes public schools eligible for energy improvements that result in a direct reduction in school energy costs, including improvements to the air conditioning and heating, ventilation, hot water heating, and lighting systems. In addition, funding would support any improvement, repair, renovation to, or installation in a school that leads to an improvement in teacher and student health.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s grant funding will also support additional improvements, repairs, or renovations such as the installation of renewable energy technologies, the installation of alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds such as school buses or the purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school.

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