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O’Halleran Pushing for Funds for Rural School Repairs

March 15, 2021 by TWN Staff
A high school football field. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., is urging his colleagues to fund a backlog of school construction projects in rural, tribal and other underserved communities.

“In far too many communities in rural Arizona, students attend class in condemned school buildings in desperate need of repair,” O’Halleran said.

“As we move toward safe, in-person school re-openings, every child in our country deserves a safe environment in which they can learn and grow,” he continued. “My bill will give school districts which rely on Impact Aid funding the funding they need to improve facilities and ensure students are not exposed to dangerous conditions that impede learning.”

The legislation, known as the Impact Aid Infrastructure Act.  would authorize a one-time time infusion of $1 billion – to be expended over three years – for ESEA Section 7007 Impact Aid construction.

Specifically, it calls for about 40% of the funding to be distributed in the form of formula grants, based on the regular distribution criteria in statute, to the most federally impacted school districts.

About 60% of the funds would be distributed in the form of competitive emergency and modernization grants. The eligibility criteria are broader than the regular program – and focus on the availability of assessed value of taxable property – to account for the additional funding.

Emergency grants, which are the priority, must be used to repair, renovate, or alter a facility to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of students and school personnel. 

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