School Site Planning & Access

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The location and accessibility of schools has significant and long-term impacts on the ability of students to walk and bike to school, traffic congestion, safety, and air quality in the surrounding area, and on educational outcomes. NCTCOG encourages school districts, local governments, and the private sector to work together to locate, or site schools so that they take advantage of existing infrastructure, enable students to walk and bike to school, avoid hazardous traffic conditions, promote orderly and efficient development in the region, and best serve and support students, families, and communities.

Quick Facts:
  • Approximately 50 new public K-12 schools were opened from 2013-2017 in the Dallas-Fort Worth region—an average of 10 per year.
  • Distance is one of the greatest factors in the decline in walking and bicycling to school. In the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, 55% of K-12 students live more than two miles from school (2017 NHTS).
 
 

Resources & Planning Tools

Planning for Community-Oriented Schools: A Guide to School Siting in North Texas (2017)
Based on a review of state laws, best practices from across the country, and interviews with school districts, cities, and consultants in North Texas, this guidebook provides steps for improving city-school district coordination, and strategies for building community-oriented schools.

Review of State Legislation and Policies Related to School Siting Requirements (Memo) (2016)
Land Banking Programs and Best Practices Research (Memo) (2016)
Coordinating Demographic Projections (Memo) (2016)

School Siting in North Central Texas: Strategies for Effective School Facilities Planning in McKinney, TX (2012)
Following a 2011 workshop with the City of McKinney and McKinney ISD, NCTCOG developed a white paper summarizing the prevailing issues related to school siting, and recommendations to promote coordinated planning and effective school siting practices.

 

Events & Training

Regional School Coordination Task Force

The Task Force is intended to establish a structured dialogue between school district officials, city planners, engineers, architects, and others on topics such as school facility planning and transportation to and around schools, in order to better meet shared goals related to education, health, safety, transportation, and quality of life. If you would like to be added to the email listserv for the Task Force, and receive information on relevant topics, email Barb Walsh.

Previous Meetings:
 
October 25, 2016
 
July 26, 2016
 
April 26, 2016
 
December 9, 2015

EPA Smart School Siting Tool Webinar (Recording) (2016)
Hosted by NCTCOG and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this webinar introduces participants to the EPA’s Smart School Siting Tool. This Excel-based tool helps communities assess their school siting and community planning processes, and compare alternative school sites in a more coordinated and comprehensive way.

RTC Workshop: Community Schools and Transportation (2015)
NCTCOG staff hosted a workshop in October 2015 to introduce elected officials on the Regional Transportation Council and school district officials to the new Community Schools and Transportation Program, and give an overview of upcoming activities and opportunities to be involved.

Presentation to a Joint Committee of the Denton City Council and Denton ISD (2012)
NCTCOG staff delivered a presentation on school siting and transportation coordination. Following the meeting, the City and ISD worked with NCTCOG to identify sidewalk needs near school sites, coordinate on planned roadway construction projects within the ISD’s jurisdiction, and prepare Safe Routes to School (SRTS) application materials.

 

Resources

  • The Smart School Siting Tool, EPA (2016): This Excel-based tool is intended to help school agencies and other local governments work together to better align school siting and community planning processes, and evaluate and compare candidate sites for a new or renovated school.   
     
  • School Siting Guidelines, EPA (2011): These model guidelines are intended to encourage, inform, and improve consideration for environmental factors in local school siting decision-making processes.
     
  • School Site Selection and Off-site Access, ITE: This briefing sheet was developed in partnership with the National Center for Safe Routes to School, and is intended for use by transportation professionals initiating or engaged in implementing safe routes to school (SRTS).
     
  • School Site Planning, Design, and Transportation, ITE (2013): This report provides information to aid school and local officials, engineers, architects, and developers in creating walkable, community-based schools.
     
  • Smart School Siting, ChangeLab Solutions: ChangeLab Solutions promotes healthier communities for all through better laws and policies. This website includes model policies for school districts, and fact sheets on smart school siting.
     
  • Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School, National Trust for Historic Preservation (2002): This report examines various threats to historic neighborhood schools, including public policies that inadvertently discourage community-oriented schools. It concludes with examples of how some districts overcame these barriers, and recommendations for policy reforms.
     
  • Helping Johnny Walk to School, National Trust for Historic Preservation (2010): The report describes steps that states and localities can take to encourage more schools that are centrally-located and accessible by many modes of transportation.
 


For more information please contact Kathryn Rush.