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Kaine & Warner Introduce Bill to Modernize Aging Schools in Virginia and Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner reintroduced the School Infrastructure Modernization Act, legislation to help modernize aging schools in Virginia and across the country by making it easier for school districts to use the current federal historic rehabilitation tax credit (HTC) to upgrade historic school buildings that will continue to operate as schools after renovation. Current law makes it difficult for school districts to use the HTC because it requires the renovated building to serve a different purpose than before. The School Infrastructure Modernization Act would waive that requirement to help school districts with aging infrastructure and tight budgets partner with private entities to finance renovations that districts would otherwise not be able to afford.

“Modernized public schools are critical to providing students with the safe learning environment they need to succeed,” said the senators. “This bill will help upgrade Virginia’s aging schools and boost local economies by supporting construction jobs and private-public partnerships.”

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program has helped rehabilitate historic structures and revitalize communities for more than 35 years. In the Commonwealth, the HTC has helped restore more than 1,200 structures since 1997. According to a June 2021 report from the Virginia Commission on School Construction and Modernization, over half of all schools in Virginia—more than 1,000 schools—are at least 50 years old and need significant repairs. The estimated replacement cost is nearly $25 billion, but older schools can often be renovated for less money than the cost of new construction. While Mayor of Richmond, Kaine led a coalition to utilize the HTC 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.

U.S. Representative Dwight Evans (D-PA-03) is introducing companion legislation, the Rehabilitation of Historic Schools Act, in the House of Representatives.

Full text of the bill is available here.