Encourage the sharing of school facilities for community use
Schools traditionally have been the centers of their communities. They can both educate our children and provide access for others to recreational, civic and public space. If community members view a local school as an asset, they will seek rather than oppose the increased presence of schools in the community.
Laws and policies in many states limit the joint use of schools, however, making it difficult for communities to transform them into neighborhood centers and to realize the cost savings that come from sharing facilities for other activities. The need for joint use of school facilities is particularly acute in communities that are built-out and growing. In those places, land is scarce and allowing the joint use of facilities makes it possible to meet the needs of the community while using land efficiently.
States can support the joint use of school facilities by changing statutes, revising funding formulas, and developing guidelines and standards that allow public schools to be used for both educational and community functions.
In many states, enabling legislation is needed to allow for the joint use of school facilities. The legislation should allow communities to partner with private and non-profit organizations to provide community services at school locations. In addition, the legislation should spell out the roles of the school district and its partners; it should delineate who has the authority to make employment or funding decisions, and to lead "joint-use" events. Funding criteria must be flexible enough to allow communities to make their own decisions on what uses are most appropriate.
- California Department of Education's Joint Use Program
The California Department of Education's Joint Use Program provides supplemental funding for the construction of joint-use facilities such as gymnasiums, libraries, childcare facilities and teacher education facilities. Both new construction and additions are considered. The state provides a maximum of $2 million for facilities to be used by Grades 9-12, with lower limits for lower grades.
— California Department of Education's Joint Use Program
— California's Department of General Services, Public School Construction
- Connecticut's Hartford Learning Corridor Project
The state-supported Hartford Learning Corridor Project is a school- and community-use facility in the city's Frog Hollow neighborhood, adjacent to Trinity College. Government, private and foundation investment in the project totaled $175 million. The project includes a public Montessori elementary school, a middle school, a science and math center, an arts academy, an early childhood education center, and a performing arts theater. The Learning Corridor is part of a multi-year effort to revitalize the neighborhood with new schools, housing, jobs, recreation and social services.
— Connecticut's Hartford Learning Project