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Thread: Schools + Infrastructure = Sprawl

  1. #1
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Schools + Infrastructure = Sprawl

    Anybody have any good articles (preferably economic) linking new school site locations and infrastructure to urban sprawl?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Who Cares?

    H: What follows has nothing to do with you but is a rant on the same subject

    I'd like to know if people really care whether schools and playgrounds and ballfields and open spaces for schools creates sprawl?? I for one would and do support larger school facilities and more fields and facilities of all kinds for our kids... This is the one and main area where Sprawl doesn't really matter.....

    40-80 acres for High School Sites
    20-40 acres for Middle School Sites
    10-20 acres for Elementary School Sites
    I see schools that need to acquire land (and the houses on top) to scrape and add area for the growing populations....oh, and schools with more than two stories have no business being located outside of Manhattan or other such areas....

    Oh and by the way, these facilities should be designed to allow ALL of the public to use them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not like the GARBAGE is see in Florida where school facilities and play areas are locked up tighter than that so called jail Martha Stewart is living in (and stealing food from the fridge at night.....WTF!!! ) I mean having 6-8 foot fences around a ball field and playground that all property owners pay for is a CRIME!!!!!

    Sorry H you are cool with me....just a hot button issue for me......to answer your question....no, haven't seen any studies or reports about sprawl and schools....I'll keep an eye open.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  3. #3
    Ugh, why shouldn't schools be more than two stories? Because it's a pain in the ass to walk up three flights of stairs? Our children shouldn't be subjected to the torture of exerting any physical effort? I don't get it. A study released today about obesity just confirmed that kids are fatter than ever, because they're eating more fast food and not getting enough exercise. If we had more 5 story schools with smaller footprints instead of these ugly pieces of trash, kids would get a workout every day at school. People wouldn't have to do stairmasters.

    Why doesn't sprawl matter in the context of schools? Young middle class parents are the one demographic that continue to move out to the urban fringe more vigerously than ever. They're the one group where "smart growth" policies seem to have the least effect. 20-something yuppies and senior retirees are moving downtown. They're trading long commutes and clogged shopping malls for pedestrian-friendly streets and unique neighborhoods. But middle class parents are the one group conspicuously absent the renaissance of our urban cores. Why? Because of schools of course! (Well, at least it's one of the many reasons.) Our relently persuit to clear more greenfields for more and bigger school facilities purpetuates a cycle of deinvestment of older buildings in established neighborhoods. Children need adequate places to learn and play, but locating new schools on the fridges of development isn't the solution. I don't see topping off a building with a third or fourth floor as some kind of self-evident abomination, unless it is putting too much of a strain on the recess yards, but again I don't think those two go hand-in-hand.

    I don't understand your school site acreages either, unless you're referencing some uniquely Floridian thing where enrollments are standardized to some percieved "perfect" size. Students per classroom (or even per square foot) would be more logical. I graduated from a big sprawling suburban high school with 3,000 students in three grades, but my elementary school of 200 was just a small-footprint three story turn-of-the-century building with one short and stubby hall and a modular unit attached on the end. We played wallball and kickball just like all the other kids. We need parks, sports fields, playgrounds, and recess yards, but there are lots of options for expansion besides the urban fringe. School districts can open more small neighborhoods schools in existing buildings instead of aiming to create giant new megaschools that solve the issue in one fell swoop. I know that there's a certain economy of scale that tends toward bigger schools so that there is less district-wide redundancy, and that's certainly why people see them as the only option, but at least considering other choices in site selection needs to be more common.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Check out the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities Resource Lists on

    SMART GROWTH AND SCHOOLS

    NCEF's resource list of links, books, journal articles, and other documents examining schools in relation to issues of planning and community development, economic impact, conservation of open spaces, and smart growth vs. sprawl.

    Content:
    References to Books and Other Media - 34
    References to Journal Articles - 32
    Related Web Sites - 14
    Related Resource Lists - 8

    Website:http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/smart_growth.cfm
    Oddball
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  5. #5

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    No references, but experience suggests that schools are major growth magnets. I once consulted with a school district in a rapidly growing community, helping them do some projections and figure out where to site some new buildings. Once the siting decision was made, and an elementary and a middle school were under construction, the surrounding 320 acres was platted and developed inside of 3 years. I did some back of the envelope calculations and figured the landowner could not only have donated the land (which they did not, although I understand the sale price was a bargain), but also built the buildings and still turned a profit.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Size of schools is sad....

    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    Ugh, why shouldn't schools be more than two stories? Because it's a pain in the ass to walk up three flights of stairs? Our children shouldn't be subjected to the torture of exerting any physical effort? I don't get it. A study released today about obesity just confirmed that kids are fatter than ever, because they're eating more fast food and not getting enough exercise. If we had more 5 story schools with smaller footprints instead of these ugly pieces of trash, kids would get a workout every day at school. People wouldn't have to do stairmasters.

    Why doesn't sprawl matter in the context of schools? Young middle class parents are the one demographic that continue to move out to the urban fringe more vigerously than ever. They're the one group where "smart growth" policies seem to have the least effect. 20-something yuppies and senior retirees are moving downtown. They're trading long commutes and clogged shopping malls for pedestrian-friendly streets and unique neighborhoods. But middle class parents are the one group conspicuously absent the renaissance of our urban cores. Why? Because of schools of course! (Well, at least it's one of the many reasons.) Our relently persuit to clear more greenfields for more and bigger school facilities purpetuates a cycle of deinvestment of older buildings in established neighborhoods. Children need adequate places to learn and play, but locating new schools on the fridges of development isn't the solution. I don't see topping off a building with a third or fourth floor as some kind of self-evident abomination, unless it is putting too much of a strain on the recess yards, but again I don't think those two go hand-in-hand.

    I don't understand your school site acreages either, unless you're referencing some uniquely Floridian thing where enrollments are standardized to some percieved "perfect" size. Students per classroom (or even per square foot) would be more logical. I graduated from a big sprawling suburban high school with 3,000 students in three grades, but my elementary school of 200 was just a small-footprint three story turn-of-the-century building with one short and stubby hall and a modular unit attached on the end. We played wallball and kickball just like all the other kids. We need parks, sports fields, playgrounds, and recess yards, but there are lots of options for expansion besides the urban fringe. School districts can open more small neighborhoods schools in existing buildings instead of aiming to create giant new megaschools that solve the issue in one fell swoop. I know that there's a certain economy of scale that tends toward bigger schools so that there is less district-wide redundancy, and that's certainly why people see them as the only option, but at least considering other choices in site selection needs to be more common.
    I would agree that the size of schools is getting out of hand and its all for the love of the buck and saving a buck when it comes to educating our kids....very sad....one of the saddest things to happen in the past 100 years with our education system.....but I guess it has to take place in a big megalopolis or super city....but still sad....most of my grade school was spent in a class of 21 with a school of under 200 students....I liked it a lot....big schools leave people behind and create class differences that shouldn't be so obvious.

    Yeah, so your point about my school areas is well taken, but if we have to go to big schools, there should be enough space for those 3,000 to 6000 kids jammed in there....

    As for the fat kids....well, extra stairs won't help that much....better PE classes and more space for kids to play would help that problem....also....only allowing the cream of the class to participate in order to make some ex sergeant happy that his team is the bomb doesn't help. The sergeant reference is to my old school....ha ha ha ...not meant to be in general.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    On observation: Often, communities use schools as a means to extend infrastructure. They place the school in some outlying locations (because they want the area to develop, or the propoerty owner cuts a deal on the land price so he can sell more land) and then the city has an excuse to extend roads, water and sewers out there. The intervening land is then primed for development.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ecofem's avatar
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    H -

    If you are in the Tallahassee area, you might be interested in all of the controversy surrounding the now-constructed Chiles High School way up on the northside. (Wow – this was probably 8-9 years ago… time flies) 1000 Friends of Florida and Tall Timbers both opposed the school being placed in the extreme north end of the County, and there are a lot of great articles full of information on the topic and concern about related sprawl outside of Tallahassee’s urban growth boundary.

  9. #9
          roger's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ecofem
    H -

    If you are in the Tallahassee area, you might be interested in all of the controversy surrounding the now-constructed Chiles High School way up on the northside. (Wow – this was probably 8-9 years ago… time flies) 1000 Friends of Florida and Tall Timbers both opposed the school being placed in the extreme north end of the County, and there are a lot of great articles full of information on the topic and concern about related sprawl outside of Tallahassee’s urban growth boundary.
    I don't think it was that long ago...I lived in Tally until about 3 years ago and IIRC they had either just completed it or finished it after I left...or maybe I'm going senile

    Anway it seems to me that new schools would tend to be the tail rather than the dog...sprawl would occur no matter where new schools are located.

    FWIW, I attended a 3 story high school in Tallahassee. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by roger
    FWIW, I attended a 3 story high school in Tallahassee. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
    I was kind of thinking of the kindergarten my oldest attended when talk turned to multi-story schools. He attended it the last year it was open. It was a historical building in that it was the first school built in that city (or county -- I am thinking county, but not sure). However, it was two stories plus a basement and stairs everywhere. They had to close it and figure out where else to send the kindergarteners because it failed to meet "accessibility" requirements.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Accessibility for handicapped students (and employees and parents) is the only real problem with multistory schools, and that can be solved with an elevator and wheelchair ramps. Elevators do break down now and then. However, in any given school there usually aren't many students who need the elevator; breakdowns are usually infrequent enough that relatively simple, inexpensive backup solutions can be used. Kids on crutches can negotiate stairs, if they aren't too slippery. When the elevator breaks down, kids in relatively lightweight wheelchairs can be helped up the stairs by a couple of employees, or can go outside and up a hillside (if the school is on a gentle slope) or outdoor ramp to access the second floor. I have seen and done these myself. Chair lifts are another alternative to elevators; I have seen those in schools, as well.

    There is really no compelling reason to use dozens of acres for a school, or to build the giant 3,000-student schools we have in some places. Smaller schools can be built; it just takes more (and more creative) effort planning them, and funding the larger number of smaller-footprint buildings and sites. An elementary playground can be as small as an acre, and seldom needs to really be more than about five acres. Secondary schools do need somewhat larger spaces for athletic fields, and in the case of high schools, parking. But 50 acres or more for one school is generally overkill. Two schools (say, a high school and the main middle school that feeds into it) can share one set of athletic fields, with careful scheduling of the activities. As for high school parking, the only students who might really need to drive to school are those who go to a job or community college class after school, or who have after school sports.

    School playgrounds and fields should definitely be open to the public, when not in use by the school.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Just to clarify, I thought it was sad (to say the least) when the kindergarten closed. It was a wonderful experience for my son. It was a tiny building and it was all kindergarten -- 4 classes in the morning and 4 in the afternoon -- because the regular elementary school a few blocks away was too crowded. They ultimately decided to bus the kindergartners to another school across town. I was appalled. I thought that was the laziest and worst possible solution. Their logic was that bussing the 6th graders to a couple of different schools would be "socially disruptive" to kids who had been together for 6 years already but it wouldn't have a social impact on the 5 year olds! They also had options like adding more temporary buildings (an option used previously in the past and the footprint of those portable buildings was still available with some of the wiring or something) or make the art teacher (and someone else) a vagabond, going class to class, instead of having his own classroom. We happened to move right before my youngest started kindergarten....thank god.

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