Bemidji Event Showcases How 21st Century Schools Create Good Jobs and Healthy Learning Environments for Minnesota’s Students

The American Jobs Act will create thousands of sorely-needed jobs and improve the educational environment for students by modernizing schools, according to representatives from BGA, Education Minnesota, LIUNA, and the Minnesota Conservation Federation.

October 6, 2011

BEMIDJI, MN  (October 5, 2011) The American Jobs Act will create thousands of sorely-needed jobs and improve the educational environment for students by modernizing Minnesota’s public schools, according to representatives from the BlueGreen Alliance, Education Minnesota, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), and the Minnesota Conservation Federation. The groups gathered in Bemidji today to call on Congress to pass the President’s nationwide jobs plan – the American Jobs Act – that focuses on rebuilding infrastructure and modernizing public schools.

The American Jobs Act would allocate $30 billion to updating and modernizing 35,000 public schools across America, which would bring $275 million to Minnesota for updating K-12 schools and allocate almost $88 million for modernizing the state’s community colleges. Such investments are expected to create 3,600 jobs in Minnesota.

“The American Jobs Act includes critical investments in modernizing and renovating our schools, and repairing our crumbling transportation systems, and it will create the jobs we need to maintain a competitive U.S. economy,” said Tarryl Clark, the National Co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! initiative. “It will get thousands of Minnesotans to work creating safer, healthier, more energy-efficient schools – schools that will be better for our students. And the bill will also create better roads, bridges, transit and other transportation systems for all of us. But, we need Congress to pass it now to get started on these vital projects and create jobs.”

“Modern, green school will create a better learning environment for children and safer and healthier schools for teachers, aides, nurses, custodians and other support staff,” said Gina Bernard, an English teacher at Bemidji High School who also serves as Vice President of the Bemidji Education Association. “Here in Bemidji, we have great students and great teachers. They deserve great schools.”

Minnesota’s construction industry has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn. Since 2005, construction employment in Minnesota has dropped by approximately 50,000 jobs, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

“Too many construction workers in our state are stuck waiting for an opportunity to work and provide for their families,” said Russell Hess, Political Coordinator for Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota. “These investments to modernize our schools will create thousands of construction jobs in this state. In addition, the transportation infrastructure investments will create many thousands more.”

High performance, green schools can use 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than other schools. On average, they can save $100,000 per year on operating costs – enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 new textbooks, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Modernizing schools to be more energy efficient meansa healthier environment, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and savings fortaxpayers,” said Clark. “By passing the American Jobs Act, we can do great things for our economy, our environment and our communities.”

Jobs21! is a nationwide grassroots campaign for good jobs in the 21st century that is coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance, a Minnesota-based, national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Jobs21! works to create and maintain good jobs in emerging industries – energy efficiency, renewable energy, manufacturing, transportation and transit, recycling, green chemistry, broadband Internet and a smarter electrical grid.