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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 16, 2000


Today, President Clinton will visit the Abigail Adams School (P.S. 131) in Queens, New York, to highlight the urgent national need to improve our school facilities. The Abigail Adams School, an elementary school built in 1926, is over 150 percent of capacity. This classroom crunch means that the school's 862 students take music classes in the cafeteria, English as a second language and special education classes in the auditorium lobby, and science classes from teachers with carts, not classrooms. Its eight temporary classrooms - in three trailers and one modular extension - house 240 students. To help communities nationwide modernize their schools, President Clinton will call on Congress to pass his school construction proposals: $25 billion in School Modernization Bonds and $6.5 billion in Urgent School Renovation Loans and Grants.

KEY ELEMENTS OF THE PRESIDENT'S PLAN. All students need a safe, healthy, and modern place to learn. To meet this national priority, President Clinton proposed:

THERE IS AN URGENT NATIONAL NEED FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION AND REPAIR. Communities across the country are struggling to address urgent safety and facility needs, rising student enrollments, and smaller class sizes. - An estimated $112 billion is needed to bring America's schools into good overall condition, according to General Accounting Office in 1995. One-third of American schools - teaching 14 million students - need extensive repair or building replacements. (School Facilities: The Condition of America's Schools, 1995)
- Including the costs of rising enrollments and technology infrastructure, over $300 billion is needed, 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).
- Public and elementary enrollment is expected to increase by another million students between 1999 and 2006, to a record 44.4 million elementary and secondary students. (Condition of Education 2000, p. 8)

CONGRESS' BUDGET PLAN IGNORES THE NEEDS OF AMERICAN SCHOOLS. In February, the Clinton-Gore Administration sent Congress a balanced and responsible budget that made investments in key education initiatives to raise standards, increase accountability, and invest in what works. This week, on June 14, the House of Representatives narrowly passed its budget on a partisan vote. This legislation is built on misguided priorities and insufficient resources.
- The House rejected the President's $1.3 billion plan to help states and localities make emergency repairs to crumbling schools. It has also failed to act on his School Modernization Bonds proposal. - Meanwhile, the House has passed tax cuts that would drain more than $550 billion from the surplus. To pay for these tax cuts, the House budget would cut domestic priorities $29 billion below the President's level, an average cut of 9 percent. - The House bill also invests too little in other important education initiatives. It fails to strengthen accountability and turn around failing schools, reduce class size, provide funds for emergency repairs and renovating aging schools, sufficiently expand after-school opportunities, prepare more low-income students for college through GEAR UP, invest in improvements in teacher quality, and help bridge the digital divide.


A growing body of research has linked student achievement and behavior to the physical building conditions and overcrowding. Good facilities appear to be an important precondition for student learning, provided that other conditions are present that support a strong academic program in the school.


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