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Higher Ed. Bill Contains Money for ‘Green Schools’

By Alyson Klein — July 21, 2009 1 min read

Today the House Education and Labor Committee is considering that “bombshell” higher education loan bill. And while we’ve told you quite a bit about the early learning piece of this legislation, there’s more in the measure for the pre-college set.

The bill includes more than $4 billion over the next two fiscal years for a green-schools initiative, something Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., has been trying to get through Congress via a variety of legislative vehicles. (For instance, this bill, but also the House’s original version of the stimulus. It was eventually stripped out because of opposition from some conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans).

The program would be paid for through the $87 billion in projected savings available under the higher education loan bill, according to a CBO estimate.

Under the measure, the school facilities grants would go out under the Title I, Part A formula. But every Title I district would get a grant of at least $5,000. The majority of the funds would need to be used for projects that meet green building standards.

Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware, a moderate Republican, brought up one of his major concerns on the school construction piece: Congress is spending money on a brand-new program while it still hasn’t provided enough funding for special education.

We’ve written before about the complicated politics facing school facilities. My guess is that this section of the bill will make it through passage in the House (assuming the rest of the measure does...the student loan piece is very controversial, even with many Democrats). But it’s hard to say whether the Senate will include the program.

Still, the school construction piece gives long-time supporters of federal school construction money (namely these folks) another reason to put their lobbying muscle behind this bill.

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