School Siting: Contested Visions of the Community School

In this study, McDonald traces the evolution of school siting standards, explains the factors currently influencing school facility location decisions, and identifies what local and regional planners could contribute to school siting decisions.

  • Smart growth proponents advocate community schools that are small and intimately linked to neighborhoods
  • School facility planners tent to expect community schools to meet the needs of entire localities.
  • McDonald recommends communities consider tradeoffs associated with different schools sizes including:
    • Walking distance for students
    • Potential for sports fields
    • School design
    • Connections to neighborhoods
  • McDonald also recommends that state school construction and siting policies support flexibility for localities and that local and regional planners should work with school facility planners to conduct exercises and charettes to help each community determine how to realize its own vision of community schools.

McDonald, Noreen. “School Siting: Contested Visions of the Community School.” Journal of the American Planning Association. 76.2 (2010).

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