The U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor passed the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (RASA) of 2019 (H.R. 865). This legislation creates a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond program targeted to help address significant health and safety challenges in public schools. The International Code Council worked closely with the Committee to ensure that these critical investments require the latest codes and standards.
An American Society of Civil Engineers report found that more than half (53%) of public schools require repairs, renovations and modernizations to be considered in good condition. A 2014 Department of Education study estimated that it would cost $197 billion to bring all public schools into good condition. The bill requires that repairs, renovations and new construction adhere to the latest model building codes and energy conservation codes, as well as WaterSense performance criteria within national model codes. Through these measures, the bill ensures that the federal government’s considerable investment into public schools leverages best practices in hazard mitigation, energy conservation and water efficiency.
RASA is part of a broader discussion underway in Congress around investments to our nation’s infrastructure. The Code Council is leading an effort to ensure federal infrastructure investments require the application of the latest building codes, such as the International Codes (I-Codes).
“Public schools house vulnerable populations and frequently serve as community centers, acting as emergency shelters and voting locations in addition to their public education functions. These facilities need to be resilient and well maintained,” says Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “Ensuring they are constructed to current codes protects the children and teachers who use and occupy these structures as well as the federal government’s own investment.”
The Committee reported version of H.R. 865 will be available here once the amendments the Committee adopted today have been incorporated. The Manager’s Amendment, which includes the code provisions discussed above, is available here.