Massachusetts school districts with low-income students and English language learners have until October 28 to apply for funding to improve ventilation and indoor air quality for healthy learning environments.
On September 19, Governor Charlie Baker announced the release of federal funding to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for HVAC and air quality improvements in eligible districts. Eligible districts have only until October 28 to respond. If your district is one of those eligible, make sure it plans to submit a proposal. Be sure that submitted proposals will fund what best increases the health and safety of your members and students. District proposals should include the labor/management health and safety committee process of planning, executing, and monitoring the upgrades. They should also guarantee an opportunity for member input to help determine what needs priority focus.
The key priorities are outlined on the DESE Grant/Funding Opportunity webpage under the Fund Code: 209, and include the possibilities for needs assessments of HVAC for each building or room, feasibility studies for long-term improvement, assistance for design and bidding for construction improvements to upgrade HVAC systems, and funding to incorporate maintenance plans or infrastructure.
Eligibility for the funding is limited to “school districts with economically disadvantaged student populations,” which means a district must serve a percentage of low-income students or English learners of at least the state average of 46.1 percent. The amount eligible for those districts has been predetermined, as listed on the state's website.
This may be a good way to engage your health and safety committee in the long-term planning of your buildings’ air quality and expand your involvement into other community concerns. Local unions should push for involvement in their district’s proposals, including holding districts accountable for how their improvements are part of a long-term fossil fuel reduction plan that benefits the community and holding districts accountable for providing work to local contractors who will help advance the local union’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals.
The MTA Environmental Health and Safety Committee is the coordinating committee for local health and safety committees. If you need help forming or organizing your Environmental Health and Safety Committee, please contact MTA Representative/Organizer Scott Fulmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.