The construction of new schools, as well as decisions regarding the closing of existing schools, influences the health, economic well-being, and the quality of life for the entire community. By taking into account the special vulnerabilities of children and their health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), working with a team of experts, released in October 2011 the School Siting Guidelines. The School Siting Guidelines is an educational tool to assist local school districts and community members in evaluating health and environmental factors to make the best possible school siting decisions.
After the Guidelines were released, three Georgia non-profit organizations –The Georgia Conservancy, U.S. Green Building Council, Georgia Chapter, and Mothers & Others for Clean Air – recognized that school siting decision-makers may need training on the guidelines and a hands-on way of applying the principles of the guidelines to real-world situations. In 2012, the team developed a training program based on the School Siting Guidelines called, “Old School, New School, This Place, That Place” to guide school board members, administrators and personnel, planners, and other decision-makers through the children’s health and environmental impacts that should be considered when making difficult decisions regarding school siting, school closure, or school renovations. The training was developed using funds from EPA’s Pollution Prevention program in Regions 1, 4, and 7; the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc. and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia continues to provide support for our ongoing school siting research and outreach.
Old School, New School, This Place, That Place: An Introduction to Utilizing the EPA School Siting Guidelines uses a presentation, case studies, and exercises to encourage dialogue and discussion about the complex issues surrounding school siting decisions. The program can be used by any state or locality—all you need to do is edit the information in certain portions of the program to reflect your communities’ requirements and regulations.
The program includes the following components:
Old School, New School, This Place, That Place: An Introduction to Utilizing the EPA School Siting Guidelines
User’s Guide .pdf download
This guide provides speaker notes for both the Full Workshop and One-Hour Modules. References are also provided.
Full Workshop (3-hour) PowerPoint download
The main component of the training is an interactive workshop with case studies and exercises. A minimum of three (3) hours is recommended for the full workshop. We recommend that the participants represent a variety of stakeholders including: school board members, facilities managers, planners, etc.
Four case studies are included to engage workshop participants and generate discussion. The graphics for each case study are based on real-world examples, but are made into generic graphics to focus attention on the school campus and surrounding areas as well as to make the examples applicable to many different real-world situations.
The Full Workshop includes two interactive exercises based on a hypothetical school siting situation. Detailed instructions for the exercises are found following the speaker notes.
One-Hour Module PowerPoint download
This abbreviated presentation is recommended for elected officials or for use in formats where time constraints limit use of the Full Workshop. The One-Hour Module does not include interactive exercises and provides much less opportunity for group discussion.
Community Workshop (45 min) .pdf download
This outreach training curriculum is intended for parents, community leaders, civic organizations, businesses and anyone wanting to learn more about school siting issues; all of whom have a vital and important role to play in school siting decisions. The curriculum is written in layman’s terms and is intended to provide baseline knowledge in the roles of school systems, local governments, and other influencers in the school siting process.
For more information on School Siting, please contact Georgia Conservancy Sustainable Growth Program Manager Katherine Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or Georgia Conservancy Urban Designer Johanna McCrehan at email@example.com.