Smart School Siting

Smart School Siting

How School Locations Can Make Students Healthier and Communities Stronger

Forty years ago, almost half of all students walked or biked to school. Now, only 14 percent of children do.

Why this change? The biggest reason is because today’s schools are located too far from children’s homes for walking or biking to be practical. In recent decades, schools have increasingly been built on the outskirts of communities, too far from children’s homes for walking or biking to be practical. Meanwhile, obesity rates in children and adolescents have more than tripled, and a third of children are overweight or obese.

But school locations can help make students healthier. When schools are located near where children live, kids can walk and bicycle to school, as well as use school playgrounds and facilities for physical activity outside of school hours.

ChangeLab Solutions has developed a package of school siting policies for school districts that want to ensure that their school siting decisions support the educational success, physical health, and overall well-being of students and their community. Download our model policies and accompanying fact sheet (“Smart School Siting”) below.

For additional resources, review our Ten Fundamental Principles of Smart School Siting. We’re also happy to work with your state or community to tailor our model policies to your particular needs. (We recently developed policies specifically for Illinois school districts, available below.) For resources and a model ordinance enabling local governments to support smart school siting, click hereContact us today to find out how to put these tools to work for your community.


PLEASE NOTE: The Model School Siting Policies for School Districts were updated in January 2015 to reflect recent Supreme Court decisions that affect how race and ethnicity may be considered in the school siting process. Any Supreme Court decisions subsequent to January 2015 are not reflected in the model policies.