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Gillibrand bill provides more than $100 billion for schools in COVID-relief package

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo
A fourth grader at Dr. Weeks Elementary School with Syracuse Superintendent Jaime Alicea.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is pushing legislation that would pump billions of dollars into public schools and would be used to eliminate health and safety risks.

Gillibrand said many schools need the funds to make necessary repairs and renovations during a pandemic. She said this funding would be part of the COVID-relief package and is needed, especially in low-income school districts.

“A child’s ability to attend public school, without risking their health, should not depend on where they live or how much money their local government has,” Gillibrand said. “We must do more to make sure every community has the resources it needs to make schools safe.”

The funds would allow schools to upgrade things like HVAC and ventilation systems. It would also offer funds to help expand access to reliable, high-speed broadband, in districts that can’t afford it.

"This legislation will help our schools make the infrastructure upgrades they desperately need, and provide all of our teachers and students the safe learning environment they deserve,” Gillibrand said. “This bill will help us recover, resume our normal lives.”

The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021 would provide $100 billion in grants and $30 billion in bond authority.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the Senate is moving “full steam ahead” on passing the COVID-relief package, while the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is ongoing. In a letter to House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the goal is to have legislation signed by President Joe Biden before unemployment benefits run out in March.  

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.