The 21st Century School Fund and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) proposed last week a project, Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST!), that would create jobs and repair some of the nation’s schools.
Both the Government Accountability Office and the American Society of Civil Engineers agree that school districts haven’t kept up with facility repairs and maintenance for many years. According to the report, ignoring problems with school buildings may result in many problems over time including energy inefficiencies, unsafe drinking water, water damage and moldy environments, poor air quality, inadequate fire alarms and fire safety, compromised building security and structural dangers. The organizations estimate that at least $270 billion in backlogged maintenance or facility problems have not been addressed.
This is where the FAST! project comes into play. The 21st Century Schools Fund and EPI believe that by addressing even one-tenth of the current backlog of school improvement and repair, school districts have the opportunity to create 500,000 jobs for construction workers at a time when over a million are unemployed. Plumbers, building technicians, and energy-related workers would also benefit.
Career Technical Education (CTE) students and workers in the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster would benefit from the increase in job openings, but how would a project like this be funded during these tough economic times?
The report proposes allowing districts to scale up or back on school improvements based on available resources, and suggests adding money for FAST! to existing funding formulas. For more details, view the FAST! report.