Reduce or eliminate acreage standards for K-12 schools
In 27 states, school boards must follow acreage guidelines when preparing plans and requesting financial assistance for new construction. The same goes for the maintenance, repair and renovation of existing school buildings.
Schools and communities would benefit, however, if states reduced or eliminated such guidelines. Requiring unnecessarily large lots for public schools often forces school boards to build outside existing towns or developed neighborhoods, and the remoteness makes it difficult for schools to serve as centers of community they once were.
The location also can increase costs - for everyone. If schools are far from where they live, students must get there by car or bus, which is more expensive than walking. Locating schools far from the community also can lead to increased taxpayer expenses, because water lines, sewer lines and roads often must be built to service the schools.
Minimum acreage standards prevent community and education leaders from choosing the best site based simply on the school's and the community's needs. School investments can spur economic development, yet minimum acreage standards make it difficult for communities to take full advantage of their investment.
The process for reducing or eliminating acreage minimums varies from state to state. The standards may be set by statute or as a departmental guideline. Where acreage standards are not established by statute, the Department of Education can issue new guidelines. In 2004, the Council of Educational Facility Planners International established model acreage standards that encourage smaller, neighborhood-centered schools. States can adopt these model standards or modify them to fit their needs.
- South Carolina's Minimum Acreage Requirements
In 2003, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford signed legislation eliminating the state's minimum acreage for K-12 schools. The Office of School Facilities in South Carolina's Department of Education has revised its planning and construction guidelines to reflect the elimination of the minimum acreage requirements. It now encourages districts to consider the standards set by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International.
— South Carolina Office of School Facilities