Super-Sized Schools Are Getting a New Land Diet

Decision makers are realizing that large (and expensive to maintain) acreage requirements are making kids, and their parents, dependent on cars to shuttle them to and from school. Some states have already eliminated the minimums, and more want to.

The Environmental Protection Agency "hopes this spring to issue a call for proposals for a state-by-state approach to educating key decisionmakers about school siting standards. The initiative is seen as essential because many school systems continue building on oversized parcels, in locations that are hard to reach on foot -- worsening the epidemic of childhood obesity and straining the finances of communities."

"Arkansas and Wyoming are two states that adopted acreage standards in the past few years after previously leaving such decisions to local people. In all, approximately 27 states have guidelines or standards saying how much land a school should have, EPA policy analyst Tim Torma says."

"Usually the standards are based on the grade levels served - high schools require more land than elementary schools - and on the school's enrollment."

"School consolidation, a force in American life for three-quarters of a century, has exacerbated the tendency toward building schools at outlying locations and on sites that offer few pedestrian connections to homes and community services. From 1930 to 2002, the number of students in the US rose to 53 million from 28 million while the number of schools plummeted to 91,000 from 262,000."

Thanks to Gayle Ross

Full Story: Move toward neighborhood-scale schools slowly gains momentum

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