Friday, March 19, 2010

Recovery Act dollars to improve classrooms

I was pleased to announce this week with the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Department of Education that $16,274,000 in school construction bonds authority has been awarded to the Kansas City Missouri School District.

Nationally $11 billion was allocated for qualified school construction bonds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). Qualified school construction bonds can be used to finance the construction, rehabilitation or repair of a public school facility or for the acquisition of land where a school will be built.

This is money to help our local school districts continue to repair and invest in our schools, despite the economic hard times we are facing. At a time when the Kansas City School District is consolidating half its schools, this allocation will allow for much needed building and classroom improvements necessary to accommodate shifting thousands of students. This is a zero-interest loan authority to invest in Kansas City’s students as they adjust to their new situation.

This announcement comes at a time when the Kansas City, Missouri School District is embarking on a radical transformation plan for Teaching and Learning for a New Millennium. “This funding is just what we need to upgrade many of our facilities and provide students with the 21st century learning environments they deserve,” said John Covington, Superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri School District. “The bonds will assist us in providing a safe, nurturing and improved educational environment that enhances and supports academic achievement.”

Created by the Recovery Act, qualified school construction bonds help state and local governments obtain low-cost financing for much needed public school improvements and construction. Investors who buy these bonds receive Federal income tax credits at prescribed tax credit rates in lieu of interest. These tax credit bonds essentially allow state and local governments to borrow without incurring interest costs.

The Recovery Act provided for the issuance of $11 billion of qualified school construction bonds by states and large local educational agencies in 2009 and $11 billion in 2010. The 2010 allocations include $6.6 billion of bonding authority to the 50 states and the remaining $4.4 billion was allocated the nation’s 103 largest local educational agencies, including Kansas City, Missouri.