U.S. Mayors Step Up for Healthier Schools
The largest mayor’s organization in the country adopts policy supporting critical school modernization, highlighting the need for better, healthier K-12 school facilities
(WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 23, 2022) In an effort to make healthy, modernized schools a national priority in communities across the country, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), which represents more than 1,400 mayors, passed a healthy school infrastructure resolution earlier this month at its 90th annual meeting in Reno, Nevada.
The policy resolution, introduced by USCM President and Mayor of Miami Francis Suarez and co-sponsored by Mayors Michelle Wu (Boston, MA), Lacey Beaty (Beaverton, OR), Debra March (Henderson, NV), Corey Woods (Tempe, AZ), and Dean J. Trantalis (Fort Lauderdale, FL), urges local leaders to direct historic federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support public school facility improvements and upgrades as part of a strategic effort to modernize school infrastructure and ensure a healthy school environment.
“We know most of our school facilities are suffering from chronic disrepair, which can harm student learning and jeopardize student and teacher health,” said Rachel Hodgdon, President and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), who partnered last year with 21st Century School Fund on the 2021 State of Our Schools Report, which found that the U.S. is underinvesting in school buildings and grounds by $85 billion each year. “As the state of our school buildings reaches near crisis levels in communities across the country, it’s encouraging to see our mayors step up once again to support school modernization and commit to investments and solutions for better, healthier schools.”
With roughly one-sixth of the U.S. population attending a K-12 school facility every day, the USCM resolution recognizes a growing body of research that shows the significant impact that the design and operations of school environments have on student learning and productivity, teacher performance and collective health.
“I applaud the U.S. Conference of Mayors for passing a resolution on public school facility infrastructure,” said Mary Filardo, Executive Director and Founder of the 21st Century School Fund. “The quality of public school buildings and grounds is a key factor in the health and well-being of neighborhoods. Cities that use Rescue Plan funds to improve K-12 facilities are likely to find a strong multiplier effect from well-planned and executed capital investments in public school facilities. School facility improvements can help attract families to neighborhoods, address the need for more green space, give access to healthy activities from school athletic and playground spaces, and provide safe shelter when responding to a community disaster—to name only a few examples.
”To support a stronger federal role on school facilities, the resolution, titled “Supporting Action to Build Better School Infrastructure,” also voices strong support for recent efforts by the Biden Administration 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. Both of these have been long-standing policy recommendations by the BASIC Coalition, or (Re)Build America’s School Infrastructure Coalition, which represents a diverse set of civic, education, labor, and industry groups representing millions of Americans, working together to advocate for federal funding to help under-served public school districts modernize and build K-12 public school facilities.
“The Resolution from the U.S. Conference of Mayors on our public school facilities is a welcome voice to civic groups, educators, labor, and industry on the need to add a federal role and responsibility to the dedicated and sustained efforts of local districts and states to modernize our deteriorated and antiquated public school facilities,” said Ally Talcott, the Executive Director of the [Re]Build America’s School Infrastructure Coalition (BASIC).
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Each year, during its annual conference, USCM approves a range of policy resolutions. These policy positions adopted collectively represent the views of the nation’s mayors and are distributed to the President of the United States and Congress.
About the 21st Century School Fund 21st Century School Fund is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization focusing on K-12 public educational facilities. For nearly 30 years it has been a leader in providing innovative solutions, research, and local, state and federal policy proposals to improve public school facilities. 21CSF was founded in 1994 on the premise that communities are responsible for creating healthy, safe, and educationally appropriate learning environments that are environmentally sustain, resilient, and affordable.
The 21st Century School Fund has been the lead researcher and author for the State of our Schools 2016 and 2021. These reports on school district facilities spending and investment have informed key metrics and proposals for our nation’s elementary and secondary school facilities, including the American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card for public school facilities and federal legislation to rebuild America’s school infrastructure. For more information, visit www.21CSF.org.
About the International WELL Building Institute
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is a public benefit corporation and the world’s leading organization focused on deploying people-first places to advance a global culture of health. IWBI mobilizes its community through the administration of the WELL Building Standard (WELL) and the WELL Health-Safety Rating, management of the WELL AP credential, the pursuit of applicable research, the development of educational resources, and advocacy for policies that promote health and well-being everywhere.
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