Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

April 5, 2023


Wednesday April 5, 2023


The day after speaking at a day-long forum in the Legislative Office Building to promote clean air in every school, state Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury), who is Co-Chair of Connecticut’s School Indoor Air Quality working group, today welcomed news that 50 Connecticut schools in19 different towns and regional school districts will receive $56 million in state grants under a new program designed to improve air quality in local schools.

The grants, ranging from $632 to $6.6 million, were announced today by Governor Ned Lamont at an event in Waterbury. Cities and towns are required to provide matching grants to fund the project costs. Examples of eligible projects include replacing, upgrading, or repairing boilers and other heating and ventilation components; replacing controls and technology systems related to HVAC operations; or installing or upgrading air conditioning or ventilation systems.

“There is a clear and provable need for better air conditioning and ventilation in our public schools, many of which were built decades ago before the effects of poor air and climate change had been studied and understood,” Sen. Kushner said. “Now we know how to keep students and teachers healthier in schools, not absent and at home fighting asthma or some other respiratory disease. The benefits of these investments will pass on to future generations, and I’m happy to have been part of the solution to this longstanding problem.”

The clean air grants vary widely, depending on the size of the school and the exact project.

Locally, Ridgefield received $21,000 in state grants to help cover the cost of $50,700 worth of clean air projects at Barlow Mountain, Veterans Park, Ridgefield High School, East Ridgefield Middle School, Brachville, and Farmingville schools.

The grants are being awarded through the HVAC Indoor Air Quality Grants Program for Public Schools, a newly established state program that is administered by the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services. Sen. Kushner helped create the program last year, as part of the Democrat’s budget adjustment bill that Governor Lamont signed into law in 2022 (Public Act 22-118). The program has been allocated $150 million through two revenue streams, including $75 million from state bond funding and $75 million from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, which were also approved by Democrats.

In addition to the funding, the 2022 law requires school districts to conduct a uniform inspection and evaluation of their school HVAC systems every five years, requires HVAC inspection reports to be made public at board of education meetings, and to report any corrective action taken.

Meanwhile, the working group Sen. Kushner co-chairs is studying the issue and will make recommendations related to indoor air quality in schools.

On Tuesday, Sen. Kushner took part in the “Breathing Better: Healthy Schools Forum” in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford as part of National Healthy Schools Day, which promoted clean air in every school and the need to urgently address the problem of unsafe air caused by poor heating and ventilations systems. The forum also commemorated the 20th anniversary of Connecticut’s landmark 2003 School Indoor Air Quality legislation, highlighting the importance of clean indoor school environments to children’s health and ability to learn.