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Resources and Best Practices

For more information on school siting and safe routes to school, please review the following

guides, reports, websites, and local examples.



School Siting


EPA School Siting Guidelines

Developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in consultation with the Departments of Health and Human Services, these model guidelines are intended to encourage, inform, and improve consideration for environmental factors in local school siting decision-making processes without infringing on local decision-making authority.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, October 2011

Levofsky, Amber and Forinash, Christopher V.

Number of pages: 27



Helping Johnny Walk to School: Policy Recommendations for Removing Barriers to Community-Centered Schools

Nearly all the decisions about the use and location of school facilities are made by local school districts– but the impact of these decisions goes far beyond the school and the education of its students. This report, produced jointly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), identifies the larger community interest in decisions about retaining existing schools and deciding where to locate new ones. It describes the states’ role in school siting decisions and identifies policy changes that will ensure that educational, environmental, health, community, and fiscal considerations are weighed by communities when school districts make school closing, consolidation, and site selection decisions.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2010

Kuhlman, Renee.

Number of pages: 39


Schools for Successful Communities: An Element of Smart Growth

This publication, produced jointly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, explains why and how communities should employ smart growth planning principles to build schools that better serve and support students, staff, parents, and the entire community. It presents examples of supportive state and local policies, as well as case studies from around the country that show how community-centered schools and the planning process used to design and build these schools have improved education and fostered more livable places.


Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI), September 2004

Hoskens, J. et al.

Number of pages: 27


Travel and Environmental Implications of School Siting

This study is the first to empirically examine the relationship between school locations, the built environment around schools, mode choices for trips to school, and air emissions impacts of those choices. The results of the study suggest that actions to improve students’ walking environments, and to support communities that wish to locate schools in neighborhoods, will result in increases in student walking and biking to school. Increased walking and biking can reduce emissions related to auto travel and improve environmental quality.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, October 2003

Levofsky, Amber and Forinash, Christopher V.

Number of pages: 27


Why Johnny Can't Walk to School: Historic Neighborhood Schools in the Age of Sprawl

This report by the National Trust for Historic Preservation helped to spark national attention to the issue of school siting. It examines various threats to historic neighborhood schools:

  • Public policies that inadvertently sabotage the very type of community-centered school that many parents and educators are calling for today (e.g., state funding biases for building new over renovating)
  • Policies and practices that promote mega-school sprawl at the expense of older neighborhoods, and rule out the possibility of anyone’s walking to school (e.g., acreage standards and modern building codes)

The report concludes with case study examples of how some districts overcame these barriers to the retention and modernization of old and historic schools, and recommendations for policy reforms to buttress neighborhood conservation and smart growth efforts.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, October 2002, 2nd Edition

Beaumont, Constance E. and Pianca, Elizabeth G.

Number of pages: 52





ChangeLab Solutions

ChangeLab Solutions has a variety of resources on smart school siting, including factsheets and a package of model school siting policies for school districts.



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has links to a broad set of environmental challenges and solutions regarding school facility siting.




Safe Routes to School




Steps to Creating a Safe Routes to School Program
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center


Safe Routes to School 101

Safe Routes to School National Partnership


Quick Facts and Statistics

Safe Routes to School National Partnership


A Primer to Understanding the Role of School Boards and Principals

Safe Routes to School National Partnership


Safe Routes to School Briefing Sheets

Institute for Transportation Engineers




Walking School Bus


A Walking School Bus is a carpool for kids without a car. It’s a safe and fun way for children to get physical activity as they travel to and from school with adult supervision. Each “bus” walks along a set route with one or more adults leading it, picking up children at designated stops along a predetermined route and walking them to school. In addition to increased daily physical activity, benefits include students who arrive ready to learn, a cleaner environment, and increased family and community engagement.


Step by Step: How to Start a Walking School Bus at Your School

Safe Routes to School National Partnership and California Department of Health


Video: Walk to School with Blue Zones Project’s Walking School Bus!

Blue Zones Project - Fort Worth





Look Out Texans School Resources


Safe Routes to School National Partnership


National Center for Safe Routes to School


Safe Routes to School Online Guide


Walk/Bike to School Day



Local Examples


Irving ISD SRTS Program

Irving ISD, in cooperation with the Irving Police Department, designated various city streets around elementary and middle schools as “Safe Routes” for students to use when walking and bicycling to school. Students also receive bicycle and pedestrian safety lessons in physical education classes.


Steps to Creating a Safe Routes to School Program
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

Texas Safe Routes to School Guidebook

Texas Department of Transportation

Case Study: Creating a Safe Routes to School Action Plan - Washington, D.C.
Safe Routes to School National Partnership



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