Community-Centered Schools Offer Numerous Benefits
They offer location efficiency. Community-centered schools keep travel distances short. The shorter length and fewer number of auto and bus trips lessens auto emissions, saves on busing costs, and reduces the number of traffic collisions. Community-centered schools are also accessible by many modes of transportation, providing families with more flexibility.
They help the environment. Community-centered schools take advantage of existing infrastructure and buildings. Renovating an existing building reduces waste intended for landfills and means less land is used on the outskirts of a community. The construction and operation of buildings account for 48% of the United States' greenhouse gas emissions. But reusing and retrofitting existing buildings can reduce these emissions dramatically, reduce waste intended for landfills, and reduce pressure to develop agricultural land and open space. As mentioned above, community-centered schools reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution by decreasing the miles driven to pick up or drop off children.
They encourage healthier families. Schools built near residential areas allow children to get more exercise. Children who live near their school can walk or bicycle to school, and can use school facilities to play and exercise when school is out. Increased physical activity improves children's health and decreases their likelihood of obesity.
They encourage close ties with community members. Centrally-located schools make it easier for parents to become involved in the school and allow students to participate in after-school activities. By providing a familiar location for voting, community meetings, and services in an emergency, residents are more likely to participate in such events and access these services. Finally, because they are used by residents of all ages for recreation and events during non-school hours, improvements are likely to be supported through local bond measures.
They offer educational benefits. Since community-centered schools are located within neighborhoods, they often have a small student body. Studies have shown that smaller-sized schools see more students graduate, have better attendance records, and experience strong participation by students in extra-curricular activities.
They increase property values. The presence of a local school supports higher property values and encourages continued public and private investment in the neighborhood. These effects in turn reinforce the tax base and funding available to the schools.
They save on construction and operating costs. By co-locating or sharing facilities such as libraries, theaters, athletic fields, swimming pools, and parks with the local municipality or other entities, both construction and operating costs can be lowered. Furthermore, renewing a school campus often costs less than purchasing a new site, mothballing or demolishing the original school, and constructing a new facility with supporting infrastructure.