Supporting Action to Build Better School Infrastructure

Adopted at the 90th Annual Meeting in 2022

  • WHEREAS, public schools play a critical role in the social fabric and economic well-being of our communities and nation; and

    WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated more than ever that public schools serve as anchor institutions for thousands of communities, providing access to food and healthcare, offering resources for literacy and workforce development, and acting as emergency shelters for millions of children, families, and community members nationwide; and

    WHEREAS, one-sixth of the U.S. population enters a K-12 school facility every day, yet decades of underinvestment and deferred maintenance in our schools have forced millions of America's children and educators to spend many hours per day in too often unhealthy, unsafe, and uncomfortable public school classrooms, buildings, and grounds; and

    WHEREAS, recent research led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health outlined various COVID-19-risk-reduction measures for schools, underscoring the importance of school buildings being open for effective learning and development, and to minimize societal disparities. The report finds that one of the key solutions to help keep students safe in school buildings is doing more to advance "healthy buildings," encompassing air ventilation, filtration, and cleaning; and

    WHEREAS, research shows that the design and operations of school environments - including lighting, ventilation, furniture, temperature controls, fixtures, and equipment - has a significant impact on student productivity, teacher performance, and collective health, which, when scaled across our nation's 100,000 schools encompassing more than 8 billion square feet, has powerful implications for collective well-being and achievement; and

    WHEREAS, the 2021 State of Our Schools Report found that our K-12 school facilities face a funding investment gap of $85 billion every single year, highlighting that students, teachers, and administrators are attending school facilities that fall short of providing safe and healthy 21st Century learning environments because essential maintenance and capital improvements are so deeply underfunded; and

    WHEREAS, the 2021 State of Our Schools Report also found that disadvantaged communities suffer disproportionately from the chronic disrepair of school facilities, making it harder and harder for these school facilities to meet basic health, education, safety, or energy standards; and

    WHEREAS, improvements to school facility indoor air quality, ventilation, and energy efficiency can support human and planetary health hand-in-hand by supporting physical and mental well-being, productivity, and engagement for students and school staff while lowering the environmental footprint of school facilities and advancing climate goals; and

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, given the critical role our nation's public school facilities play in educating our children and anchoring our neighborhoods, The United States Conference of Mayors supports the White House's Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure, including President Biden's budget proposal to reestablish a National Clearinghouse for School Facilities and create a first-of-its kind Office of Infrastructure and Sustainability at the Department of Education (DOE); and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The United States Conference of Mayors encourages city leaders to encourage the use of applicable federal resources dedicated for schools, including federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to support public school facilities improvements and upgrades, helping modernize our nation's infrastructure and ensure every student across the country has access to a safe and healthy school environment.

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