Big Box Thinking When Siting Schools is Creating Sprawl
"When Lyn Michell's son Warren was small, the family had the good fortune to live across the street from the boy's Atlanta elementary school. Now that Warren is in middle school, Lyn has joined legions of parents nationwide who drive their children through crowded suburbs just to get to and from school. When Warren enters high school, the commute will be even longer, the monthly gasoline bills bigger, and the route even more congested.
Unfortunately, this trend is escalating as new suburban mega-schools are built far from community centers, fueling sprawl, pollution and traffic. Meanwhile, America's old historic schools, in or near town centers, are being abandoned and demolished at an alarming pace - a wasteful trend driven by misguided federal and state policies and funding.
In the 1990s, school construction expenditures in the United States rose by 40 percent, with less than 20 percent of that spending used to renovate existing schools, according to a 2005 National Association of Realtors study. Nationally, approximately $253 billion was spent on public school construction and renovation between 1995 and 2004 - the lion's share going for new school construction, says the National Trust for Historic Preservation."