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  • By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

$350M proposed for school repairs in insular territories

The House Committee on Education and Labor on Tuesday cleared the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which includes a 10-year allotment worth $350-million for schools in Guam, the CNMI, American Samoa and U.S. Virgin Islands.

H.R. 865 proposes to invest more than $100 billion in repairs and rebuilding of public schools across the nation, a program that is touted to generate more than 1.9 million good-paying jobs.

“Countless students attend school in crumbling buildings that are either unsafe, lacking in essential resources, or both,” said Sablan, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education,” CNMI Delegate Gregorio Sablan said in a statement.

“The Rebuild America’s School’s Act is an important step toward ensuring that every student, regardless of their family’s wealth, can attend a safe and high-quality public school,” he added.

Sablan said the allotment would help insular territories rehabilitate the school facilities damaged by a series of typhoons that hit the region last year.

“Even before Typhoons Mangkhut and Yutu struck the Marianas and Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Virgin Islands, the U.S. Army of Engineers estimated the cost of deferred maintenance at island schools at $177 million,” according to a press release from Sablan’s office.

The inclusion of insular territories into the proposed program is among the amendments introduced by Sablan.

“For far too long, students, parents, and teachers have felt the consequences of our chronic failure to prioritize funding for public education. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act would provide targeted support to improve unsafe and under resourced schools across the country,” said Education and Labor Committee chairman Bobby Scott, at the markup.

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