Fact Sheet: President Clinton: Modernizing America's Schools for the 21st Century (8/23/00)
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|  PRESIDENT CLINTON: MODERNIZING AMERICA'S SCHOOLS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY  |
|                             August 23, 2000                             |
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Today, President Clinton will emphasize the urgent national need to build
new schools and modernize existing ones at Crossroads Middle School in
South Brunswick, New Jersey.  Like many other crowded schools across the
country, Crossroads Middle School is almost 20 percent above capacity and
has eight temporary classrooms.  President Clinton will release a new U.S.
Department of Education analysis on school enrollment in New Jersey, which
is now at its highest point in over 20 years.  Finally, President Clinton
will call on Congress to invest in education and modernize schools
nationwide by passing his budget plan, which include $25 billion in School
Modernization Bonds and $6.5 billion in loans and grants for urgent school
renovation.

PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL RELEASE AN ANALYSIS OF RECORD-SETTING SCHOOL
ENROLLMENTS IN NEW JERSEY.  This year, 1.3 million students will attend New
Jersey schools, a 20 percent increase over the last decade and the most
since the 1970s, according to the Department of Education analysis released
today.  South Brunswick school enrollment has increased by 90 percent in
the past decade, fast enough to fill a new school every two to three years.
These enrollment surges are consistent with the nationwide trend: 53
million students will begin school this fall, the highest ever.  Unlike our
past experience ? when enrollment rose and dipped repeatedly ? schools in
the 21st century will see sustained, steady growth for generations,
reaching 94 million students in 2100.  Over 85 percent of New Jersey
schools reported in 1995 that they needed to make repairs to restore their
facilities to good overall condition.

PRESIDENT CLINTON HAS A PLAN TO MODERNIZE AMERICA?S SCHOOLS.  All students
need a safe, healthy, and modern place to learn.  To meet this national
priority, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have proposed:

?  $25 BILLION IN SCHOOL MODERNIZATION BONDS.  President Clinton has
proposed $25 billion in school construction bonds that would be
interest-free for school districts.  The bonds would help build and
modernize 6,000 schools nationwide.  In the U.S. House of Representatives,
Reps. Charles Rangel and Nancy Johnson introduced bipartisan legislation
based on the President?s proposal with 226 sponsors.  In the Senate, Sen.
Charles Robb introduced a similar bill.
-  Bond owners would receive federal tax credits rather than interest
payments from school districts, allowing districts to borrow interest-free
for school construction.  A similar mechanism has been used successfully
for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs).
-  Districts could use these 15-year bonds to modernize existing schools as
well as build new ones. The $25 billion would be allocated among states and
school districts, with $400 million available to Bureau of Indian Affairs
schools.
-  The President?s proposal would cost $2.4 billion over five years.  The
bill?s innovative financing mechanism is a cost-effective approach to
leveraging local construction that avoids a new bureaucracy.
?  $6.5 BILLION IN LOANS AND GRANTS FOR URGENT REPAIRS.  President Clinton
has also proposed a $1.3 billion initiative to make $6.5 billion in grants
and interest-free loans for emergency repairs at 5,000 schools.  Over five
years, the initiative would help 25,000 schools repair roofs, heating and
cooling systems, and electrical wiring.  The assistance would be targeted
to high-need districts, with $50 million for Native American districts and
a smaller amount of grant aid available for school districts unable to
finance capital expenditures.  Sen. Harkin and Rep. Clay have introduced
urgent school repair legislation in Congress.

THE URGENT NATIONAL NEED FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION.  Communities across the
country are struggling to address urgent safety and facility needs, rising
student enrollments, and smaller class sizes.
?  An estimated $127 billion is needed to bring America?s schools into good
overall condition, according to U.S. Department of Education.  An estimated
3.5 million students attend schools that need extensive repair or
replacement.  (Condition of America?s Public School Facilities: 1999, 2000)
?  Our schools need over $300 billion including the costs of meeting rising
enrollments and installing a modern technology infrastructure as well as
repairs, according to the National Education Association. (Modernizing Our
Schools: What Will It Cost?, 2000)
?  The average public school was built 42 years ago.  About one-third of
public schools were built before 1970 and haven?t been renovated since at
least 1980.  (National Center for Education Statistics, Condition of
Education 2000, p. 63).
?  School conditions matter: A growing body of research links student
achievement and behavior to the physical building conditions and
overcrowding.  Good facilities are an important precondition for student
learning, provided that other necessary conditions are also present.

CALLING ON CONGRESS TO INVEST IN AMERICA?S EDUCATION PRIORITIES.  In
February, the Clinton-Gore Administration sent Congress a balanced and
responsible budget that made investments in key education initiatives to
expand college opportunity, raise standards, and invest in what works.
However, the Republican budget:
?  Ignores the pressing national need for school modernization.  The
Republican budget fails to include the President?s plans to build and
modernize 6,000 schools and make emergency repairs to another 25,000 over
the next five years.
?  Fails to help prepare 600,000 disadvantaged students for college through
GEAR UP, reduce class sizes in the early grades, strengthen accountability
and turn around failing schools, improve teacher quality, provide
after-school learning opportunities to over 1 million children, and help
bridge the digital divide.
?  Excludes the $36 billion College Opportunity Tax Cut to make college
more affordable and accessible.  The College Opportunity Tax Cut would
allow families to claim a tax deduction or 28-percent tax credit for up to
$10,000 in tuition, saving them up to $2,800.  The tax cut would be fully
phased-in by 2003.
The tax cuts passed by the Congress this year - together with the
substantial tax cuts supported by the Congressional majority for next year
- would drain over $2 trillion of the surplus, returning America to
deficits and leaving no money for key priorities.  At the same time, the
Congressional budget would cut domestic priorities $28 billion below the
President's level, an average cut of 9 percent.

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