Senators Introduce Bill to Invest in Central Virginia’s Aging Sc

05/17/2017 Release from the Office of Senator Tim Kaine:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and Budget Committees, and Mark R. Warner, a member of the Senate Budget and Finance Committees, will introduce the School Infrastructure Modernization Act to spur public and private investment in renovating active historic school buildings. This legislation amends the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit to apply to school buildings that continue to operate as schools.

Under current law, the credit applies only for buildings renovated to serve a different function than before. This bill would waive this ‘prior use’ clause for school renovation projects, allowing school districts with aging infrastructure and tight budgets to partner with private entities to finance renovations that the districts otherwise would not be able to afford.

As mayor of Richmond, Kaine led a coalition that found a novel way to apply the historic tax credit to finance the renovation of a closed public school and reopen it as the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, today one of America’s highest-performing public high schools.

Older schools can often be renovated for less money than the cost of new construction. Preservation of historic schools provides students safe and modern facilities in which to learn; supports construction jobs; and maintains the historic character of communities. Warner has previously introduced this legislation with former U.S. Senator Jim Webb along with a dozen bipartisan House sponsors.

“When I was mayor of Richmond, we used the historic tax credit to help repair and reopen a historic high school, turning it into a jewel of the public school system,” said Kaine. “This bill would make it easier for other cities and towns across Virginia and the country to rehab their own historic schools. This is a commonsense way to give students safer, modern spaces in which to learn while supporting construction jobs.”

“If we want our students to succeed, we need to invest in their learning facilities. This bill is a commonsense solution that creates a pathway for schools with tight budgets to receive the resources they need to renovate and modernize,” said Warner. “Many of these schools qualify as historic buildings, and under this legislation, those schools would be empowered to form private-public partnerships to increase classroom capacity and offer jobs to the surrounding community.”

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program has played a role in rehabilitating historic structures and revitalizing communities for more than 35 years. In the commonwealth alone, the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HTC) has helped restore more than 1,200 structures since 1997. According to a 2013 analysis, approximately 40 percent of K-12 schools in Virginia – more than 800 schools – are at least 50 years…

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