Friday, May 15, 2009

Greening our Schools

Yesterday, I voted in favor of legislation that will improve our public schools, create clean energy jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower energy costs for taxpayers. The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, which passed the House on a vote of 275 to 155, will invest in our schools in order to boost our economy now and help prepare our children for the jobs of the future.

This bill uses federal dollars to begin transforming America’s aging schools while at the same time putting our nation back to work. This is a smart investment that leverages the power of the new green economy to inspire a new generation of workers. This measure reduces operating costs of schools allowing our struggling districts to devote more money to educating our students. This is the perfect time to inject these federal dollars into our local school districts. Green will be the engine that turns our country’s economy around. There is no better way to set a course for a greener future than investing in our kids.

I was able to sponsor an amendment that will encourage school districts to link their green construction efforts with curriculum that explains the new technology to students at the school. The amendment, which I sponsored with my friend Congresswoman Giffords (AZ-8), passed on a vote of 334 to 97.

The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act could provide over $6 billion in federal funds to upgrade school buildings to make them more energy efficient and more reliant on renewable sources of energy. The State of Missouri will receive approximately $97,833,000 in funding. Locally, the approximate allocations for Missouri’s Fifth District School Districts would be:

Center: $322,000
Grandview: $494,000
Hickman Mills: 1,165,000
Independence: $977,000
Kansas City: $7,855,000
Lee’s Summit: $405,000
Lone Jack: $17,000
Raymore-Peculiar: $161,000
Raytown: $596,000

Total for Fifth District: $12,295,000

The bill also generates long-term savings for schools by reducing energy expenses. Green schools reduce pollution by using about 30% less water and energy than conventional schools, and emit almost 40% less harmful carbon dioxide.

This bill is common sense. It saves money for our schools, creates jobs and helps us educate our students better. At the same time, it modernizes our schools and prepares our workers for a new, clean energy American economy.

According to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute, this legislation’s construction funding would support as many as 136,000 new jobs – many in areas that will give workers the valuable skills they need to excel in a clean energy economy. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.