Joint use/community use of public school buildings

Is your community school a community resource?  Can families use school grounds like a neighborhood park?  Do community groups hold performances in the school auditorium? Can community members run on the school track on weekends?

Or is your school like the ones in my community--school grounds locked up tight after hours and posted with "no trespassing" signs?

Schools can be a great community resource and help knit a neighborhood or community together--if school districts are willing to work together with community members and adopt reasonable policies for joint and community use of school facilities.

Taking action on community use of public schools
One of the twelve Action Items of Missouri Safe Routes to School Network is to investigate joint use and community use policies of public schools in Missouri, and see if we can suggest improvements to existing policy and practice for community use of schools across Missouri.

Community use of schools makes a lot of sense--it can help improve community health and tie neighborhoods into neighborhood schools. It includes things like:

  • Community use of school grounds and playground equipment--creating an instant neighborhood park
  • After hours classes, meetings, seminars, concerts, and other get-togethers in school buildings
  • Organized community education programs in schools
  • Re-use of school facilities--like PE facilities, tracks, gyms, kitchens, swimming pools, and the like after school hours
  • Joint hosting of nonprofit or community organizations within school buildings
  • Community sports leagues using school facilities on evenings and weekends

Resources for developing joint use and community use policies
Today the Safe Routes to School National Partnership held a webinar on Joint Use/Community Use of Schools with NPLAN--the National Policy and Legal Analysis Network.

If you would like to encourage your local schools to open their grounds and facilities to greater public use, NPLAN offers a wide variety of helpful resources:

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