Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released the following statement:
“We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for acknowledging the significant infrastructure needs of the country, including the nation’s public schools, by passing the Invest in America Act. In addition to proposing bold measures to ensure the safety of schools as they reopen after the coronavirus pandemic, this bill makes progress towards providing facilities funding and new financing options for charter schools.
Key provisions of the bill include:
- $100 billion in direct grants to high-need schools for school facilities improvement, targeting those with the most limited capacity to raise funds for the long-term improvement of school facilities.
- $30 billion in bond provisions for school construction and renovations, including the reauthorization of the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds; and School Infrastructure Bonds.
- Permanent authorization of the New Markets Tax Credit with an increase in its allocation.
- Reinstatement of advance refunding bonds, an important tool for charter schools to reduce the cost of bond financing when interest rates drop. This provision was eliminated in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
- Broadband infrastructure funding, including a $5 billion appropriation for E-Rate, plus state funding and local grants that total more than $600 million each to provide devices for students and address broadband access. There is also $85 billion to build out broadband networks to underserved areas.
- A $10 billion federal investment to leverage additional state and local funding, address structural challenges, and ensure child-care facilities are safe, appropriate, and able to comply with current and future public health directives.
Charter schools and their students have historically and consistently been shortchanged with respect to facilities funding. The Invest in America Act has potential to provide significant assistance to meet the facility needs of all public schools, including charter schools. We are pleased to see the strong commitment and leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives on this issue.”