In many communities, school-siting decisions and land-use planning are disconnected. In some instances, school districts are even exempt from local land-use laws. States can provide incentives to increase coordination between school districts and local planners so that school siting reflects the values and needs of the community.
States can encourage coordination of school-siting and land-use decisions by offering incentives to school boards and local governments to build schools that students can easily and safely reach on foot. The incentives could take the form of planning grants to either entity, or state-level resources, ranging from supportive guidelines to technical assistance provided directly from the state planning agency or the Department of Education.
Maine’s School Construction Policy (PDF)
Beginning in the mid-1990s, Maine recognized the relationship between land-use planning, school construction and the costs associated with dispersed development patterns. State planning and education officials noted that despite declining enrollments, spending on school construction was rising significantly. In addition to passing legislation that made renovation of existing schools easier, the State Education Department and the Office of State Planning launched an education and technical assistance effort that encouraged coordinated land-use and school-siting decisions. By directing the State Planning Office to work with the Education Department, and by providing state funds to be used for renovation and technical assistance, Maine has encouraged more collaboration between local school districts and municipal planners.