Educational and Cultural Facilities
Schools include the traditional elementary and high school systems and may include centers of higher education and adult education. The need for educational facilities is related to the age structure of the population and it may also be influenced by the economic structure of the community.
Schools are a different underwriting/environmental factor to assess. Generally, schools are built in response to need and not in anticipation of need. Capacity is influenced by changing household characteristics, shifting service area boundaries, curriculum revisions changing educational concepts, and busing strategies. Nevertheless, capacity and accessibility are the fundamental issues to address.
Cultural resources are also considered to be educational facilities. These resources include art galleries, libraries, dance facilities, museums, theaters, community centers, and other facilities for artistic and cultural purposes. Demand and supply for cultural facilities is a function of factors that include the size of the community, density of development, income, and demographics.
- What is the projected increase in student population due to the proposed project?
- Will the additional school-aged children in the proposed project exceed the capacity of existing or planned school facilities?
- Does the potentially affected school(s) have adequate and safe access facilities (i.e., walking paths, bus routes, crosswalks, and guards) for the projected population increase? Are these adequate both in terms of safety and access?
- Are additional or alternative facilities needed to ensure safety and suitable access?
There are two fundamental considerations regarding a HUD-assisted activity’s relationship to or impact on elementary, junior, and senior high schools: adequate capacity for children in the schools and safe access to the schools.
To accurately establish the extent to which these two criteria should apply, calculate the projected increase in the student population that the proposed project creates by contacting the developer or sponsor for mixed unit types (i.e., 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom dwellings) and the school administrator or superintendent for an estimated average number of school-age children per unit type.
If neither source has the appropriate information, refer to the U.S. Census or American Community Survey, state children and family agencies, or state education agencies for the number of school-aged children by dwelling type.
If walking routes are prohibitively unsafe or if such routes exceed walking distance guidelines defined by the local school district or planning best practices, then bus transportation should be considered. Arrange early morning and late afternoon bus circuits to accommodate those students wishing to arrive at school early or to stay after normal school hours to participate in extracurricular activities. Consider how transportation routes to schools will be affected by the foreseeable future impacts of climate change, such as increased flooding.
If school children must walk or ride the bus longer than the distances suggested above or more than prevailing local standards, consult the superintendent about how to alleviate the problem.
If the analysis reveals that current facilities are inadequate to accommodate school children safely, propose corrective actions to avoid creating an adverse effect.
If the proposed project will overcrowd the schools, consider alternative options such as:
- Building additions to existing schools
- Adding temporary portable classrooms
- Locating classroom space in nearby buildings (i.e., community centers or other commercial facilities possibly owned by the developer)
- Providing transportation to other local schools
- Avoid busing low- and moderate- income or minority students long distances, as it increases their exposure to harmful air pollutants and poses long-term health risks.
Safe access considers the possible need for transportation to school and attention to potential traffic hazards. Consider:
- Constructing all-weather walking paths in proximity to bus stop(s), schools, and crosswalks
- Identifying crossing guard locations (especially for elementary school children)
- Establishing clearly marked intersections near school or bus stop(s)