* Safer, Healthier, and Technologically Advanced Schools of the Future. Permissible uses of funds would include a range of emergency repair and renovation projects, greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology infrastructure in our schools. Local districts will also be able to put these funds to work to invest in upgrades to allow schools to continue to serve as centers of the community -including upgrades to shared spaces for adult vocational and job development centers. These efforts will not only make our schools safer and healthier learning environments, but also ensure that our schools are fully equipped to teach 21st century skills in math, science, and other technical fields and to serve as effective centers for workforce training and development.
* Maximum flexibility to the states and funding for small repairs and large-scale maintenance and upgrade projects. Funds could be used for a range of projects, including greening and energy-efficiency upgrades; asbestos abatement and removal; improvements to after-school facilities and community spaces; and modifications to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
* To ensure that schools in the most disrepair will be able to make necessary enhancements, almost 40 percent of the funds will be directed toward the 100 largest high-need public school districts. Each of the 100 Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) with the largest numbers of children living in poverty would receive a formula amount proportionate to its Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I Part A allocation within 60 days of enactment.
* The remaining approximately 60 percent will be given to states to allocate, and states would have flexibility to direct those funds to additional high-need districts, including schools in rural areas. Funding would be allocated to states on the basis of their Title I shares. States would be required to obligate those funds by September 30, 2012, and outstanding balances would be reallocated to other states. States would direct half the funding to local school districts on a formula basis, and the other half through an application process in the most high-need districts, with a priority for rural districts. A portion of the funding would be set-aside for Bureau of Indian Education schools (0.5 percent) and for the Outlying Areas (0.5 percent).
* Funds will be put to work quickly. For formula grants, states would be required to get funds to districts within 3 to 6 months of enactment and the districts would have to expend the funds within 24 months of enactment. The selection criteria would prioritize projects that would be completed quickly, while affording grantees more time flexibility for their bigger projects. To reduce the risk that districts will allow projects to stall, the American Jobs Act requires the funds be spent by September 30, 2012.
* Community Collegesare also in serious need of upgrades to ensure that facilities are equipped meet the demands of the 21st century workforce. America's community college system was built up over 40 years ago to support education and training activities of that time. Deferred maintenance at community colleges is estimated to be $100 billion. The President's plan proposes $5 billion of investments for facilities modernization needs at community colleges. Investment in modernizing community colleges fills a key resource gap, and ensures these institutions have the facilities and equipment to address current workforce demands in today's highly technical and growing fields. Funds would only be used for the repair, renovation, or modernization of facilities used primarily for instruction and research, including facilities housing programs that prepare students for in-demand jobs.
What the American Jobs Act Means for Each State's ability to Modernize and Rebuild Their Schools
The President's plan will invest $30 billion in enhancing the condition of our nation's public schools - with $25 billion going to K-12 schools, including a priority for rural schools and dedicated funding for Bureau of Indian Education funded schools, and $5 billion to community colleges (including tribal colleges). The range of critical repairs and needed construction projects would put hundreds of thousands of Americans - construction workers, engineers, maintenance staff, boiler repairmen, and electrical workers - back to work.
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