NCEF Resource List: School Closure, Consolidation, and Co-location
NCEF - National Clearinghouse for Education 

MY PAGE   |  
Filter Results
Show from to present
Show from to present
Show all citations
Show Abstracts
Hide Abstracts

Information compiled by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities discussing the closing of school buildings, and the consolidation or co-location of schools.

References to Books and Other Media

Transforming Philadelphia’s Public Schools. Key Findings and Recommendations Adobe PDF
(Boston Consulting Group, Aug 2012)
A management firm has concluded that the Philadelphia school district should close between 29 and 57 schools in the next five years. 120p

Quality Schools: Every Child, Every School, Every Neighborhood. An Analysis of School Location and Performance in Washington, D.C. Adobe PDF
(Illinois Facility Fund, Jan 2012)
Study recommends that Washington, D.C., overhaul or close more than three dozen traditional public schools in its poorest neighborhoods and expand the number of high-performing charter schools. After explaining the research methodology, the study provides a district-wide analysis, with findings and recommendations. Includes maps and tables. 80p

Closing Public Schools in Philadelphia: Lessons from Six Urban Districts.
(Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia Research Initiative, Oct 19, 2011)
This report looks at six cities that have engaged in large-scale public school closings in the past decade—Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Mo., Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Washington—to better understand what is in store for Philadelphia. With nearly one-third of its seats sitting empty, 70,000 in all, the School District of Philadelphia plans to close multiple buildings over the next two years. In doing so, Philadelphia will be following in the footsteps of cities throughout the Northeast and Midwest. The factors prompting the closings, in Philadelphia as in the other cities, include a dwindling population of school-age children, mounting budget pressures, deteriorating facilities, poor academic performance, and the growth of charter schools and other alternatives that have lessened the demand for traditional public-school education.

Closing Schools in a Shrinking District: Does Student Performance Depend on Which Schools Are Closed? Adobe PDF
Engberg, John; Epple, Dennis; Gill, Brian; Sieg, Holger; Zamarro, Gema; Zimmer, Ron
(Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, Oct 10, 2011)
In the last decade, many cities around the country have needed to close schools due to declining enrollments and low achievement. School closings raise concerns about the possible negative impacts on student achievement, neighborhoods, families, and teaching staff. This study examines an anonymous urban district that, faced with declining enrollment, chose to make student achievement a major criterion in determining which schools would be closed. The district targeted low-performing schools in its closure plan, and sought to move their students to higher-performing schools. We estimate the impact of school closures on student test scores and attendance rates by comparing the growth of these measures among students differentially affected by the closures. We use residential assignment to school as an instrument to address non-random sorting of students into new schools. We also statistically control for the contemporaneous effects of other reforms within the district. Results show that students displaced by school closures can experience adverse effects on test scores and attendance, but these effects can be minimized when students move to schools that are higher-performing (in value-added terms). Moreover, the negative effect on attendance disappears after the first year in the new school. Meanwhile, we find no adverse effects on students in the schools that are receiving the transferring students. [Authors' abstract] 6p

Consensus for Reform: A Plan for Collaborative School Co-locations. Adobe PDF
Manners, Nicholle; Ramirez, Ursulina
(Office of Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate of the City of New York , Jul 2011)
New York City Department of Education is trying to expand public charter options. A major challenge of charter expansion is finding school space to support the new school enrollments. But, as critical, is finding space for a co-location where it will not compromise the educational opportunities of students attending the school or schools already in place. This report identifies challenges and makes recommendations on processes and guidelines for co-location. The recommendations advocate for greater participation from parents, community leaders, and seasoned professionals throughout the co-location process not to increase bureaucracy, but to highlight the connection between equity and space. 33p.

Philadelphia Imagine 2014 Facilities Master Plan
(School District of Philadelphia, May 2011)
The School District of Philadelphia is engaging in a comprehensive facilities master planning process titled, "Imagine Great Schools" to provide a roadmap for the District to review its educational program offerings and facilities to determine necessary right-sizing adjustments and help guide where future investments need to be made. Inlcudes overview, policies, video, plan data, and additional resources.

Navigating the Closure Process. Issue Brief. Adobe PDF
Shaw, Matthew
(The National Association of Charter School Authorizers, May 2011)
Provide a practice-oriented resource for authorizers and other charter school stakeholders to navigate the closure process after the decision to close a charter school has been made. Summarizes how to close a charter school in a responsible and efficient manner. Covers what to anticipate from stakeholders and the key elements of planning a closure. 8p.

Making Room for New Public Schools. How Innovative School Districts are Learning to Share Public Education Facilities with Charter Schools. Adobe PDF
Sazon, Maria C.
(National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Apr 2011)
Provides seven case studies of districts where superintendents and school boards are instituting policies and creating practices that allow charter schools to take over or occupy underutilized and unused public buildings. This report also identifies strong policies to ensure charter schools have equitable access to surplus school district space. 36p.

Consolidation of Schools and Districts: What the Research Says and What It Means.
Howley, Craig; Johnson, Jerry; and Petrie, Jennifer
(National Education Policy Center, Boulder, Colorado, Feb 2011)
Provides comprehensive analysis of research on school and district consolidation. The report begins with a definition of what consolidation entails. A brief historical analysis of consolidation’s early history, goals, and proponents helps frame an interpretation of the research and provides perspective on current consolidation initiatives. The report finds that in many places schools and districts are already too large for fiscal efficiency or educational quality and that deconsolidation is more likely to achieve substantial efficiencies and yield substantial improved outcomes. It finds that claims about the financial and educational benefits of widespread consolidation are not supported by contemporary research and are usually based on dangerous oversimplifications. Includes a detailed bibliography. 28p.

Massachusetts School Building Authority 2010 Needs Survey Report.
(Massachusetts School Building Authority, Boston , 2011)
In this survey 84% of schools received top scores for building conditions, and only 23 schools (less than 2%) received the lowest rating for building conditions. 92% of schools have adequate space to support current enrollment and educational programs. 97% of schools received top scores for general learning environment. Between 2000 and 2010, nearly 70 million square feet of school facility space, about 40% of the total square footage in the state, was built new or renovated. Of the 62 schools that received the lowest rating in the 2005 Needs Survey, 9 have received funding from the MSBA, 19 are in the Capital Pipeline and 6 have closed. Of the 278 schools that were given the second poorest rating, 53 received funding from the MSBA and 89 are in the Capital Pipeline. More than one out of every five schools received a Below Average space utilization rating, meaning that the building appears to be significantly larger than its current enrollment or educational program requires. There are more than 150 district-owned school buildings that are not currently used for the education of public school children. More than 80 public schools have closed since the initial 2005 needs survey. Nearly 40 closed due to lack of enrollment, including some schools that were recently built or renovated under the former program. At least seven schools have closed since the end of the 2009-2010 academic year. Nearly 1 million square feet of classroom space is no longer being used for education. The combined costs of building those excess classrooms today would be approximately $275 million. 124p.

Closing a School Building: A Systematic Approach. Adobe PDF
McMilin, Edward
(National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC , Sep 2010)
Cites a decline in some regions' school enrollment due to demographics, economics, and school choice. The author then presents a step-by-step analysis for deciding to close a school, and then for closing the building once the decision to close has been made. De-commissioning steps for each month of the last year of the school are suggested, and advice for maintaining the vacant building included. Re-purposing the building while maintaining ownership is strongly recommended, and successful examples of this are cited. 23p.

Pie Suppers and Cake Walks: A Historical Perspective of a Closed Rural Community School. Adobe PDF
Robinson, Ruby; Rud, A. G.
(Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association , Apr 2010)
This research looks at the closing of a small rural community school located in a southern Appalachian region and determines its effects upon the teachers, students, and community culture. It was determined that there were both gains and losses incurred with the closing of this rural Appalachian community school. 15p.

Public Comment on Proposed Extension of the Co-Location of PAVE Charter School (84K651) and PS 15 Patrick F. Daly (15K015) in School Building K015. Adobe PDF
(Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. , Apr 13, 2010)
This paper presents an assessment, spreadsheets and floor plan as evidence that the DOE needs to carefully reconsider its recommendation to extend the co-location of the PAVE Charter School in the PS15 school building. 15p.

Reality Check: The Impact of Co-location on a Sample of Schools. Adobe PDF
(New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, New York , Feb 2010)
Reports that older, established public schools are being closed, forced to share their resources with newly created charter schools, or required to accommodate students displaced when their schools were closed and replaced by charter schools. Overcrowding, school capacity, shared resources, charter schools, and the small schools movement are some of the issues associated with co-location. Errors in the New York City Department of Education's Educational Impact Statements on school co-locations are highlighted, and a moratorium on co-locations pending further, independent analysis is called for. 5p.

A New Life for the Franklin School: Connecting the Past to the Present.
Simon, Chaya Rachel
(Theses, University of Maryland, 2010)
When the Franklin School was built in 1869 in the heart of Franklin Square, a vibrant area of Washington, D.C., the school was the gold standard for D.C. public schools. However, over the years, the building and its surrounding neighborhood have deteriorated. Franklin Square has become a business district active only during business hours, with an underused park. The school, which is currently empty, has undergone a few renovations, but the interior of the building has deteriorated. Despite its emptiness, it remains the only lasting memory of Franklin Square's vibrant past. By redeveloping the Franklin School into a new and accessible public charter school and connecting it to the park, the two can become a catalyst to re-activate the area. By testing different approaches to adaptive re-use, this thesis will explore ways to reconnect the building and its surroundings to the past.[Author's abstract]

Accountability in Action: A Comprehensive Guide to Charter School Closure. Adobe PDF
Wechtenhiser, Kim; Wade, Andrew; Lin, Margaret
(National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 2010)
When the decision has been made to close a charter school, this guide provides detailed information about procedures, case studies, a sample closure plan and checklist, and sample letters to various constituencies. It has six chapters: "Why Good Authorizers Should Close Bad Schools"; "The Evidence Base Needed for School Closure"; "Closure: Timing, Process and Appeals"; "Authorizing Boards and Executives"; "Supporting Students and Families"; and "Message Matters in Closure Decisions." 80p

Managing Maryland's Growth: Smart Growth, Community Planning and Public School Construction. Adobe PDF
(Maryland Dept. of Planning, Baltimore , Jul 2008)
Provides guidance to Maryland school districts in planning schools that support smart growth. Topics covered include walkability, bicycle access, environmental protection, high performance buildings, schools as community centers, school and site size, co-location and shared use, and energy efficiency in school transportation. Case studies accompany each topic and a model approach for school planning, location, and construction is included. 42 references complete the document. 78p.
Report NO: 2008-001

School Closing Procedure, Relating to the Public Schools of North Carolina. Adobe PDF
(Public Schools of North Carolina, School Planning Section, Raleigh , Feb 2008)
Provides a step-by-step guide to be used when school closing is contemplated, and upon which local board policy may be based. The procedure is presented in a sequential manner; however, its sections may be used separately or together as local conditions require. It is primarily intended to identify the various kinds of information to be considered, as well as the particular processes to be undertaken by the local board of education prior to closing a school. 7p.

Closing a School Best Practices Guide.
(California Dept. of Education, Sacramento , 2008)
Advises on gathering the facts on the costs of keeping a particular school open, discerning the community effect of closing it, deciding which schools to close, making the decision to close a school and announcing it, making the transition, and disposing of school property. 6p.

RIDE School Construction Regulations.
(Rhode Island Dept of Education, Providence , May 24, 2007)
Covers requirements for school construction, with sections detailing the state's authority, purpose, scope, definitions, product categories and priorities, followed by standards for construction, site, space, cost. Procedures and processes for application, approval design, review, regulation enforcement, asset protection, maintenance, housing aid reimbursement, program integrity, closing of schools, and waivers complete the document. 27p.

Slow Motion: Traveling by School Bus in Consolidated Districts in West Virginia. Adobe PDF
Jimerson, Lorna
(Rural School and Community Trust, Arlington, VA , Mar 2007)
Summarizes a study which investigated the lengths of school bus rides in West Virginia in districts with consolidated and non-consolidated schools, and the impact of this commute time on students' participation in extra-curricular activities. The study compared two "high consolidation" with two "low consolidation" districts. Tables compare data on how students get to school, how long it takes them to get to school, how many students travel over the recommended limit of one hour, the relationship of consolidation, mode of travel, travel time, and long bus rides to participation in extra-curricular activities, and the relationship of consolidation to students' aspirations to attend college. The results illustrate a negative effect of consolidation and long commutes on participation in extra-curricular activities, and recommendations to relieve the situation are included. 24p.

Opening doors, Opening Minds. Adobe PDF
Gordon, Peter
(National College for School Leadership, Nottingham, United Kingdom , 2007)
Examines the co-location of mainstream and special education schools in the same facility. Benefits to each type of school are listed, and a functioning example at Hazel Court School, Eastbourne, United Kingdom, is described in text and photographs. 29p.

Alfred Kiger Savoy Elementary School Modernization and Co-Location Project. Adobe PDF
(The 21st Century School Fund, Washington, DC , Dec 01, 2006)
Presents the plans for an upgraded Washington, D.C., elementary school campus which will subsequently host a renovated 40-year old school and a new public charter school. A project summary, plans aerial views, perspectives, project schedule, LEED approach, and budget are included. 22p.

Superintendent's Recommended Criteria for Consolidation and Rightsizing.
(District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, DC , Apr 25, 2006)
Lists the District of Columbia's criteria for school consolidation, given that enrollment declines have created considerable excess school space. Criteria for evaluating schools are according to educational value, as centers of community, neighborhood demographics, facility condition, and operational efficiency are detailed. 15p.

School Closings: The Big Picture. A Report of a Community Dialogue. Adobe PDF
(A+ Schools: Pittsburgh’s Community Alliance for Public Education, Oct 2005)
Findings from a community meeting that discussed factors and values, such as student achievement,safety, cost, diversity, and convenience that should go into policy making decisions in configuring school facilities for Pittsburgh Public Schools. The purpose of the meeting was to gauge the community’s preferences for a host of factors that must go into making decisions about school closings. 16p.

An Analysis of Construction of Small Schools vs. Larger Schools. Adobe PDF
Brown, Scott; Johnson, Paul; Doughty, Dale; Cecil, Dan; Keck, Lyndon
(State Board of Education, Augusta, Maine , Jul 2005)
Presents results of studies in Maine indicating that a consolidated school can serve the same student population and offer the same curriculum with less square footage and thus at a reduced cost than two or more smaller schools. Operating and personnel costs are also lower in the consolidated school option, with savings approaching $3,500 per student over 40 years in Maine. As a school's enrollment decreases, the square footage and subsequent cost per student increases. Interpretation of the data by the Maine Department of Education is included. 19p.

DC Public School and Public Charter School Capital Budgeting.
(21st Century School Fund and Brookings Greater Washington Research Program, Washington, DC , Apr 04, 2005)
Analyzes District of Columbia Public School and Charter Public School capital projects, budgets, and expenditures, presenting the history of facilities planning and budgeting in the District, and the complexities introduced by the advent of Public Charter Schools. The District's educational system features schools in serious disrepair, declining enrollment, underutilized schools, and burgeoning charter schools searching for facilities. Other District public services are in similarly inadequate facilities, and co-location is clearly indicated. Policy challenges for the District, with its complex planning environment and fiscal constraints, are proposed and discussed. 51p.

Driving More Money into the Classroom: The Promise of Shared Services. Adobe PDF
Eggers, William; Wavra, Robert; Snell, Lisa; Moore, Adrian
(Deloitte Research , 2005)
Discusses opportunities and benefits for sharing administrative and support services between schools and school districts, particularly as a means to mitigate the necessity to consolidate. Types of shared services described include purchasing, transportation, food service, administrative support, technology, and facilities management. Seven benefits of shared services described are savings, standardization, attracting of highly qualified personnel, retention of local control, flattening out peaks and troughs, and lowering political opposition. Includes 70 references. 29p.

Closing Costs: A Summary of an Award Winning Look at School Consolidation in West Virginia, a State Where It Has Been Tried Aggressively.
Eyre, Eric; Finn, Scott
(Rural School and Community Trust, Aug 2002)
With the promise of broader curriculum and huge tax savings, West Virginia has closed more than 300 schools, one in every five, since 1990. In 2002, the Charleston Gazette investigated the outcomes of the state’s consolidation efforts in the series, “Closing Costs.” Some of the findings include: 1)The state has spent more than $1 billion on school consolidation; 2)the school closings didn’t save taxpayers money; 3) West Virginia counties statewide spend a higher percentage of their budgets on maintenance and utilities now than they did five years ago, despite consolidation; 4) the number of local administrators has increased by 16% in the last 10 years despite a 13% decrease in student enrollment and closing of over 300 schools; 5) the number of state-level administrators increased and their salaries nearly doubled between 1990 and 2002; and 6) West Virginia spends more of its education dollar on transportation than any other state; rising transportation costs have forced counties to slash funding from classrooms, offices, and cafeterias. 3p.

Big Trouble: Solving Education Problems Means Rethinking Super-Size Schools and Districts. Focus on Utah. Adobe PDF
Cox, David
(Sutherland Institute, Salt Lake City, UT. , 2002)
Big school districts promised to hold down costs by centralizing functions under one roof and delivering a greater selection of academic offerings and activities, thus improving education. But they have not delivered. Up to a certain size, consolidation can save costs, but above that size, districts experience "diseconomies of scale," including misallocation of funds toward bureaucracy rather than instruction. On average, large districts' standardized test scores fall in the lower end of their expected ranges, while smaller districts' scores fall in the upper end of their ranges. Large schools are concentrated in large districts, and big schools experience the same problems as big districts. Parents are not happy with big districts--their complaints over test scores, curriculum, taxes, or anything else always come back to the issue of control. In a big district, the bureaucracy makes the important decisions, and parents feel alienated. Some districts have tried to create sub-schools that share a common school building or to create sub-districts or local councils, but they fail to address the issue of control. Limiting the size of districts and schools and creating smaller districts will improve academics and efficiency and encourage public participation by bringing issues back to the local level. This will spur innovation, flexibility, and commitment by parents and teachers. 14p.

Building Outside the Box: Public-Private Partnership: A Strategy for Improved Public School Buildings. Adobe PDF
(21st Century School Fund, Washington, DC , 2001)
This publication describes the creation of a new school building for James F. Oyster Bilingual Elementary School in Washington, DC. Despite the success of its academic program, the school's 70-year-old building had become unsafe and unsuitable for teaching and learning and was threatened with closure in 1993 because of the district's fiscal crisis. This publication discusses how the 21st Century School Fund, working with the Oyster Community Council (the school's PTA), the local school restructuring team, the principal, and neighborhood residents, formed a public-private partnership that saved the school and increased city revenue. The District of Columbia agreed to divide the school property in half to make room for a new school and a new residential development. They also agreed to dedicate property taxes and revenue from the sale of the land to repay a revenue bond. In exchange, LCOR, the private developer of the new 211-unit apartment building, agreed to design and build a new school and repay the Oyster revenue bond. 8p.
TO ORDER: 21st Century School Fund, 2814 Adams Mill Rd., N.W.,Washington, DC 20009; Tel: 202-745-3745

New Jersey State Department of Education, Administrative Code, Chapter 26: Educational Facilities. Adobe PDF
(New Jersey Department of Education, Trenton , 2001)
Lists the states rules for educational facilities. Seventeen subchapters detail requirements for long-range facilities plans, capital project review, management of capital projects, educational adequacy assessment, planning and construction standards, land acquisition, school closing, land disposal, temporary facilities, capital reserve accounts, lease and lease- purchase agreements, county vocational district rehabilitation, maintenance and operation, retroactive funding, witholding of support for non-compliance, documents, qualifications of a certified educational facilities manager, and the appeals process. 121p.

Rural Action Strengthens Ties between School and Community during Appalachian Ohio's Long Fight for Equitable School Funding. Rural Trust Featured Project.
Null, Elisabeth Higgins
(Rural School and Community Trust, Washington, DC. , 2001)
Because school systems throughout America depend on local property taxes for much of their revenue, districts with poor property valuations, especially rural districts, are facing fiscal crises. In response to a lawsuit filed in 1991, the Ohio Supreme Court twice decided that the state's heavy reliance on local property taxes for school funding violated provisions in the Ohio Constitution, mandating a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state. The state responded with a "cookie cutter" program of school construction and renovation based on minimum numbers of enrollments and class sizes. This program is forcing school closings and consolidation. Meanwhile, the state has not yet developed equitable per-pupil funding formulas, overhauled its school financing system, provided enough money for the construction and renovation program, or paid for unfunded and partially funded mandates. The issue is still before the state's Supreme Court. Rural Action, a regional organization dedicated to social, economic, and environmental justice, has launched an initiative to help citizens learn about funding and facilities issues, develop priorities for their schools, develop leadership talent, and translate their ideas into action. It has published a series of "Little Red School Books" clarifying tax terms, mechanisms, and policies; compiling readings and resources; and helping communities learn how to set goals in advance of design and construction. It has also organized events where students and teachers meet with state legislators, architects, and agency representatives to explain what their communities need and want. 10p

Long School Bus Rides: Stealing the Joy of Childhood. Adobe PDF
Spence, Beth
(Challenge West Virginia, Charleston , Mar 2000)
Decries the long school bus rides endured by children in several West Virginia school districts where many schools have been consolidated. Examples of some children's extreme ride times are described, as are the expense of busing, loss of extra-curricular activities, threats to children's health and safety, and the myth of greater class offerings at the consolidated schools. 10p.

A Community Guide to Saving Older Schools.
Rubman, Kerri
(National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, DC , 2000)
This booklet takes a critical look at some of the assumptions that "newer is better" when it comes to school buildings and considers what is actually lost each time an older neighborhood school is razed or retired. The following six assumptions are examined relative to their accuracy in the real world: 1) that "old" means out of dated or obsolete; 2) that in the long run it is a better investment of funds to construct a new building than to renovate an older one; 3) that older school buildings fail to meet national guidelines for school facilities; 4) that older school buildings have numerous practical drawbacks that cannot be realistically overcome; 5) that a new school will be a source of pride and affirmation for students and teachers; and 6) that a new school building will be an asset to its community and region. Decision making to close a school and getting the community involved prior to that decision are discussed. Several success stories involving school preservation are provided as is a list of national, state, and local organizations for more information. 33p.
TO ORDER: National Trust Historical Preservation

Conversion of School Buildings in Rural Illinois Communities. Adobe PDF
Liebenstein, Ann M.
(Rural Research Report, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs., Fall 1998)
This report explores what happens to vacant school buildings and offers case studies of different re-uses, new ownership, and funding mechanisms. It examines whether school facilities offer the potential for conversion and what factors are considered in determining and realizing that potential. 8p.

Options for Improving Rural School Facilities. Adobe PDF
Stewart, G. Kent
(Invitational Conference on Rural School Facilities, Appalachia Educational Laboratory, Kansas City, MO , Jun 06, 1998)
Many options exist for improving rural school facilities, among which are questions of school closure versus modernization or replacement. This report addresses the question of the future of the community rural school and how communities, school board, and school executives can approach school improvement problems. It defines and examines various available options in the areas of facility improvements, school maintenance, building operations, modernization. In addressing the issue of school closure, it lists several questions that should be answered so that the closure decision is in the best interests of the students and also supports the school district mission. The report also explores the option of reorganizing rural schools as either magnet, charter, or theme schools as well as using facilities for other educational or non-education uses. Finally, the option of marketing the rural school to students in neighboring school districts is examined. (Contains 2 references). 24p.

Long Rides, Tough Hides: Enduring Long School Bus Rides. Adobe PDF
Zars, Belle
(The Rural School and Community Trust, Arlington, VA , Jan 1998)
Presents anecdotes from Montana, the Navajo Reservation, West Virginia, and Colorado that describe long school bus rides and the hardships that accompany them. Research on busing is reviewed and found to be scarce and insubstantial. Two of the most recent researchers have found that busing could be considered exploitation of children's time, and that students with large average times on buses report lower grades, poorer levels of fitness, fewer social activities, and poor study habits. Knowing more about the effects of busing might lead to better choices about closing, maintaining, or opening new schools in rural areas. 7p.

Position Paper on School Closings. Adobe PDF
(Twenty-First Century School Fund, Washington, DC , 1997)
A position paper addresses school closings in the District of Columbia arguing that these closings are not within the context of a 10-year educational facilities plan that included community input, and valid criteria for closing decisions being consistently and objectively applied. Current closings decisions are viewed as being made in a vacuum with little regard for the educational mission of the school system, the larger role of schools in communities, the management issues involved, or the families effected. It discusses why restraint must be exercised before closing a large number of facilities without a master plan, why in some cases the closing criteria is not supported by the demographic data, and why the building assessment process is a weak link in the system. It also addresses how school closings can affect the District community involved beyond the sentimental attachment, why schools targeted for closure be measured against educational as well as physical benchmarks, and the importance of linking modernization and closing that help assure relocated children and their parents that the new facility they are going to is safe and appropriate. 7p.

The Altaville Schoolhouse: Community and State Cooperation in Local Historical Resource Preservation
Napton, L. Kyle; Greathouse, Elizabeth A.
(Coyote Press, Salinas, CA , 1997)
This report documents the archaeological investigations conducted at the former site of the Altaville Schoolhouse in Calaveras County, California. These investigations were carried out through the cooperative efforts of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Calaveras County Historical Society, and the local community. The schoolhouse is the only one-room brick school building remaining in the Mother Lode area of California. It is California Historical Landmark Number 499, and in 1979 the schoolhouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1996, the 330 artifacts excavated were examined, identified, and cataloged. The first part of this report narrates the history of the schoolhouse: its construction in 1858 through its closure in 1950; its protected state from 1950-81; its relocation and renovation; and its current condition. The second part of the report gives an overview of the structural, educational, and cultural specimens obtained by archaeological investigations at the original site. The major part of the document consists of: 29 historical photographs of the school; 16 figures of school artifacts; a 330-item catalog of artifacts; newspaper and magazine reprints; copies of relevant documents, correspondence, legislation, maps, and blueprints; and chapter 7 from "Calaveras, the Land of Skulls" (R. C. Wood) describing state and county schools and teachers in California, 1855-59. (Contains 33 references.) 140p.

Socio-Economic Impacts of School Consolidation on Host and Vacated Communities. Adobe PDF
Sell, Randall S.; Leistritz, F. Larry; Thompson, JoAnn M.
(North Dakota State University Department of Agricultural Economics , 1996)
The number of public high school districts in North Dakota declined from 256 to 186 during 1970-94; 22 school districts were eliminated in the last 5 years of that period. A survey was conducted in eight communities (four pairs) that had gone through school district consolidation and school closing during 1991-94. Community populations in 1994 ranged from 45 to 696, and 6 communities had experienced recent population declines. Schools that closed had 47-97 students in their last year, while consolidated schools had 75-677 students in 1994. Responses were received from 601 of 2,190 residents surveyed and covered perceived reasons for school consolidation; impacts on community social infrastructure, retail trade, and quality of life; consequences for students; and ease of transition. In the past 10 years, participation in community organizations increased in host (receiving) communities and declined in vacated (school-closing) communities, while retail trade and number of businesses declined in both types of communities. Quality of life scores did not differ by type of community before consolidation, declined in both types after consolidation, and were considerably lower in vacated communities than in host communities after consolidation. Both groups felt that students were better off academically and socially after consolidation, and that having public meetings was the most important factor in easing the process of consolidation. 60p.

Bursting at the Seams: Report of the Citizens' Commission on Planning for Enrollment Growth. [New York City]
Fernandez, Ricardo R.; Timpane, P. Michael
(New York City Board of Education, Brooklyn, NY , 1995)
The independent Citizens' Commission on Planning for Enrollment Growth for New York City has concluded that the school system is experiencing explosive enrollment growth, and that current strategies are incapable of dealing with this growth. Recommendations for coping with this increase include: (1) implementation of a pilot plan to convert schools to a year-round calendar; (2) increasing relative use of leasing, rather than new construction, as a strategy to increase space; (3) expansion of efforts to form collaboratives with higher education and nonprofit organizations; (4) expanding the relocation of administrative offices from school space; (5) rezoning overutilized schools; (6) promoting interdistrict cooperation; (7) establishing magnet and special program schools in underutilized facilities; (8) reforming placement for special education; (9) using connections with the business community to find space; (10) seeking increased federal funding; and (11) establishing a bonding authority dedicated to school space. 75p.

Surplus Space in Schools: an Opportunity.
(Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris, France , 1985)
Surplus school spaces, highlighted by falling enrollments, will significantly affect educational building policies in the eighties. Accordingly, this document consists of a comprehensive analysis of the causes of surplus, the problems and opportunities that follow, and the implications for policy and planning. Part 1 analyzes the six major causes of surplus school accommodation in highly industrialized countries: declining birth rates, planning faults, population movements, the aging cycle of the population, educational reorganization, and municipal reforms. Part 2 concerns assessment of surplus and needs, while part 3 is an indepth consideration of ways to make use of surplus space. Part 4 covers management of surplus, including participants and modes of cooperation along with obstacles and constraints. Part 5 addresses consequences for the future, in both planning and design. Finally, part 6 is a summary of conclusions pertaining to the following areas: school population change; capacity and potential of building stock; actual, potential, and future needs of the community; participation in decision-making and incentives; financial procedures, norms, and regulations; and roles and attitudes. Six case studies are appended that provide examples and ideas for the reuse of surplus space in schools. 133p.

The Arts in Surplus Schools. Adobe PDF
Bussard, Ellen
(Educational Facilities Laboratories, New York, NY , 1981)
At the same time that schools are closing in many communities because of declining enrollments, the arts are expanding at the community level. The problem of surplus school space can be the solution to the needs of many artists and arts groups. Mutual to the arts groups and the communities are the benefits of flexible arrangements and the presence of desirable tenants who enrich the neighborhood as a community resource. Arguments sometimes raised against locating the arts in surplus school space center around obtaining top dollar for schools, occupancy restrictions, costs of changing occupancy, and fears that the arts are financially risky. These possible disadvantages have been overcome in 23 cases in a variety of communities that demonstrate a range of spatial, financial, programmatic, and governance arrangements, and a broad spectrum of arts uses. Guidelines are offered for carrying out similar projects in other communities. 35p.

A Guide for the Adaptive Use of Surplus Schools. Adobe PDF
Giljahn, Jack W.; Matheny, Thomas R.
(Columbus Landmarks Foundation, OH , 1981)
This manual provides recommendations for school boards and communities concerning the leasing, selling, and marketing of school buildings. The reuse potential of each type of school building is investigated, and suggestions are made for successful conversions. Design considerations and the many aspects of acquiring and developing a school reuse project are discussed, including ownership, building codes, feasibility analysis, design guidelines, and financing. Finally, successful school reuse projects from across the country, along with designs developed by the authors, are cited to further demonstrate the great reuse potential which school buildings have. Appendices provide the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and selected funding sources. (Contains 40 references.) 119p.

When a School Is Closed . . . Adobe PDF
Amlung, Susan, Ed.
(Educational Priorities Panel, New York, NY., May 1980)
The purpose of this report is to study the transition from school to surplus property and the consequences for the immediate neighborhood. From the 53 schools closed in New York City since 1975, six schools were selected for study. Of the six schools, three are vacant, two are used by private organizations, and one by the board of education. Data on indicators of neighborhood change in each of the six communities were collected from city and local sources. In those cases where alternate uses were developed for empty school buildings, the neighborhood retained its character and its style; where buildings were vacant, crime and decay appeared to spread, and the fabric of the neighborhood was torn. [Author's abstract]

Using Surplus School Space for Community School Centers. Adobe PDF
(Educational Facilities Laboratories, New York, NY , Feb 1979)
Explores the opportunities for reusing surplus school space as community service centers, and the issues and constraints in planning. This booklet is the fifth in a series that examines community school centers. 32p.

To Re-Create a School Building. "Surplus" Space, Energy and Other Challenges. Adobe PDF
(American Association of School Administrators, Arlington, Virginia , 1976)
School administrators confronted with the possibility of having to close a school need to inform the public, assess community attitudes and needs, and identify the best possible use of the buildings. Existing schools must be reexamined in light of the new need to conserve energy and reduce operating costs. Measures that reduce energy consumption can be taken and, if necessary, schools can be remodeled. The motivation for modernization is now upgrading the environment and remodeling space for change in the educational program, plus phasing out buildings that have outlasted their usefulness. For schools over 100 years old, historic preservation can often restore and adapt them to new needs. Thirty-five successful examples of upgrading existing facilities and, in some cases, changing their function are documented in photographs and floor plans. 216p.

Fewer Pupils/Surplus Space. Adobe PDF
Sargent, Cyril G.; Handy, Judith
(Educational Facilities Laboratories, New York, NY , May 1974)
Examines the counter-phenomenon of shrinkage in school population after a quarter of a century of rapid growth to find its extent, possible duration, and some of the strategies being developed to cope with surplus space. The report deals directly with how future population numbers are calculated and discusses the strategies and procedures that follow when a population is too thin for existing school facilities. 58p.

References to Journal Articles

School's Out
Kimura, Donna
Multifamily Executive; Jul 2012
As public schools continue to close, developers are ­increasingly converting them into ­affordable housing, giving the former ­landmarks a second shot at ­serving their communities.

Closing Schools
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; Jun 2012
Pressure has been building in many parts of the nation to close and merge neighboring small districts, creating larger, more economic units. The basic idea is to eliminate costs, but more often, the question revolves around the possibility of closing school buildings and gathering all students into a single structure, thus savings costs of heating, cleaning, maintenance and more.

School Closing: Proceed With Caution.
Lytton, Michael
Educational Facility Planner; v46 n1 , p17-18 ; Jun 2012
The full costs of closing schools are often underestimated, and the impact of closing a school can have widespread and lingering consequences in a neighborhood.

Urban Schools: What’s Next
DeJong, William
School Construction News; May 23, 2012
Today there is a potpourri of public schools operating within urban school districts, including typical PK-12 neighborhood schools; magnet, thematic and choice schools; and a wide variety of charter schools that are operated by the school district or independently. This fragmented scenario creates new challenges and opportunities for facility planners and the facilities divisions in urban public school systems. Recommends creating a non-profit real-estate organization that manages all educational facility assets in a city. Discusses effectively disposing of excess property, or closed school buildings.

Repurposing Schools Gives Life to Vacant Buildings
Scott, Dylan
Governing; May 07, 2012
Holding onto vacated buildings is fiscally untenable, leading more school districts to consider repurposing initiatives. This provides several examples of school districts putting their closed schools on the market, searching for potential buyers who will reuse the properties for projects that will benefit the community.

Community Organizes to Save Neighborhood School in Philadelphia
Moinar, Michele
Education Week; Apr 17, 2012
Outlines key elements of organizing to save a school from closure. Based on the efforts of a community of parents, educators, students and volunteers who mounted an effective and passionate nine-month campaign to keep open E.M. Stanton Elementary School, a neighborhood public school in Philadelphia.

Outlook 2012
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; Jan 2012
Education institutions must keep a tight rein on spending in 2012 as they search for signs that the national economy is back on its feet. A slow, uncertain economic recovery has improved finances in some parts of the country, but for others, the absence of recovery may require further cuts. Describes the outlook in the following specific areas: funding; charter schools; construction; equity; closings; growth; maintenance & operations; No Child Left Behind; nutrition; security; technology; and sustainability.

School Consolidation: A Silver Lining in a Dark Cloud
Waldfogel, Dean
School Business Affairs; , p22-24 ; Oct 2011
Discusses the right way to consolidate schools. Looks at early indicators, initiating a study, finding the right data to inform the study, involving stakeholders, communications, transition, technology tools and systems.

Urban Consolidations Raise Issues Similar to Rural Consolidations.
Rural Matters; Apr 2011
The drive to turn around so-called failing schools is one factor fueling a spate of urban school consolidations across the country, as well as declining enrollment, poor facilities, and budget crises — all factors familiar to rural communities who have long been in the trenches trying to maintain local rural schools.

Learn from the Past.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v50 n2 , p54 ; Feb 2011
Urges school districts to retain closed school buildings rather than sell them, as many districts have found that when enrollment rebounded, they later needed buildings that they had sold. Ideally, a new school building should be designed to be easily converted to other community uses if it enters a period of underutilization, and ideas for adaptive re-use of existing schools are described.

Déjà Vu: Is History Repeating Itself?
Moore, Deborah
School Planning and Management; v50 n2 , p6 ; Feb 2011
Reflects on historical school consolidations that were intended to achieve efficiency of educational delivery and superiority in math, science, and vocational education. That trend is presently being reversed in an atmosphere seeking smaller schools with more personalized educational delivery.

Are Canada's Historic Schools Our Next Endangered Species?
Wiebe, Christopher and Quinn, Carolyn
Heritage; v13 n3/4 , 20p. ; Dec 2010
Canada's historic schools in inner cities, mature suburbs and rural areas are falling victim to declining enrolment, deferred maintenance, consolidation, development pressures, pedagogical pressures and the perceived high cost of rehabilitation. The scale and pace of school closures across Canada is staggering. Highlights numerous examples of successful renovations or repurposing of the historic buildings.

Peaceful Coexistence.
Hertting, Michael; Fischer, Anne
American School Board Journal; v197 n8 , p30-32 ; Aug 2010
Describes the co-location of three alternative high school programs in a facility housing a K-2 elementary school. The manner in which the building is organized, the scheduling, staff resistance, opportunities for interaction between the staff and student populations, and ongoing challenges are described.

Close Calls.
Erickson, Paul
American School and University; v8 n12 , p26-29 ; Jul 2010
Describes various approaches to closing underutilized schools, stressing community involvement, repurposing of surplus facilities, and costs.

Consolidation, What Is It Good For?
Collins, Timothy
Daily Yonder; , p1-5 ; Jun 2010
Presents the argument that school consolidation should be the choice of last resort. Loss of a rural school represents a disinvestment in the community and loss of community fabric, while typically creating extra transportation expense.

Growing Pains: The School Consolidation Movement and Student Outcomes.
Berry, Christopher: West, Martin
The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization; v26 n1 , 1-20 ; 2010
Examines variation in the timing of consolidation across states to estimate the effects of changing school and district size on student outcomes using data from the Public-Use Micro-Sample of the 1980 US census. Between 1930 and 1970, average school size in the United States increased from 87 to 440 students and average district size increased from 170 to 2300 students, as over 120,000 schools and 100,000 districts were eliminated through consolidation. Students educated in states with smaller schools obtained higher returns to education and completed more years of schooling. Reduced form estimates confirm that students from states with larger schools earned significantly lower wages later in life. Although larger districts were associated with modestly higher returns to education and increased educational attainment in most specifications, any gains from the consolidation of districts were far outweighed by the harmful effects of larger schools.[author's abstract]

When Schools Close: Effects on Displaced Students in Chicago Public Schools. Adobe PDF
(University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research, Oct 2009)
Examines the impact that the closing of some Chicago schools had on the students who attended these schools. The research focused on regular elementary schools that were closed between 2001 and 2006 for underutilization or low performance and asked whether students who were forced to leave these schools and enroll elsewhere experienced any positive or negative effects from this type of school move. Student outcomes, including reading and math achievement, special education referrals, retentions, summer school attendance, mobility, and high school performance were examined. Also examined were characteristics of the receiving schools and if the differences in these schools had any impact on the learning experiences of the students who transferred into them. Students ages eight and older who were displaced by school closings were compared to a group of students in similar schools that did not close. 48p.

Tough Economic Times May Call for Downsizing Facility Resources. Adobe PDF
DeJong, William
School Construction News; v15 n6 , p23,30 ; Sep 01, 2009
Advises on the process of downsizing school facilities, discussing the inclusion of community members, data collection and analysis, establishing school closure criteria, developing options, making the recommendations, and presenting the final project.

Nobody's There.
McMilin, Edward
School Planning and Management; v48 n2 , p38-40 ; Feb 2009
Addresses declining school enrollment in some regions, suggesting an organized and thoughtful procedure for closing a school, preparing and securing a school for vacancy, and maintaining a vacant school.

Decisions Need to be Based on More than Money.
Abramson, Paul
School Planning and Management; v48 n1 , p94 ; Jan 2009
Addresses the urge to consolidate small school districts, advising that increased transportation costs and time, and creation of schools that are too large. Alternatives such as sharing teachers and distance learning are proposed.

A Moving Target. (Using Demographics in Your School Construction Plan.)
Sack-Min, Joetta
American School Board Journal; v195 n10 , p20-23 ; Oct 2008
Discusses use of demographic information in school planning, including predicting areas of growth that will need schools and areas of decline that may necessitate closing or consolidating schools. Costs of maintaining underutilized or vacant schools, the practice retaining them in case of an unforseen upswing, the negative effects of school closures on neighborhoods, and some particular issues surrounding shifts between neighborhoods within metropolitan areas are considered.
TO ORDER: American School Board Journal, 1680 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; Tel: 703-838-6722

Unanswered Questions about Co-location.
Washington, Julie
United Teacher; v38 n11 ; Jun 2008
Presents the United Teachers of Los Angeles concerns on co-location of charter schools within public school facilities.

Moving In, Moving Out. (How Can Schools Cope with Base Re-Alignments?)
Stover, Del
American School Board Journal; v195 n5 , p18-23 ; May 2008
Discusses school construction campaigns in several school districts anticipating rapid enrollment increases due to expansion of nearby military bases. Problems with the federal impact aid system that funds them are discussed, as are reverse situations where school systems are shrinking due to closure of nearby bases.

The Final Decision: Community Participation and School Closure Decisions.
Lavner, Mark; Finnigan, Kara
School Business Affairs; v74 n2 , p22,24-26 ; Feb 2008
Reviews one district's experience with public engagement during a school closure process. The criteria used to rank the schools are detailed, as is the presence or absence of community support for various schools under consideration. Recommendations for running a fair and equitable school closure process are included.

Abandoned School Buildings in Rural Illinois and Their Conversions. Adobe PDF
Spader, Karin
Rural Research Report; v18 n4 ; Spring-Summer 2007
Reviews recent literature regarding the benefits of revitalizing abandoned school buildings and presents a summary of findings from a survey of administrators involved in building closures. Examples of school buildings successfully converted to a variety of purposes are provided. School buildings have been converted to use as Head Start and after-school programs, community centers, local organizational headquarters, specialty malls (gifts, furniture, antiques), athletic clubs and commercial enterprises such as photography studios, tanning salons, and restaurants. The author hopes to illustrate options that can be explored in communities before a closed school building is abandoned and reaches sufficient deterioration to no longer have a productive use.

Closing Schools: A Community Engagement Process.
Furey, Brad; Dickinson, David; Ryland, James
Educational Facility Planner; v41 n2/3 , p7-10 ; 2007
Outlines a process for engaging the community and logically closing schools. The process and framework for decision-making are illustrated by criteria, filtering characteristics, and special considerations. Quantitative and qualitative data types used by the Milwaukee Public Schools are provided, as are five references.

Commons 2.0.
Sinclair, Bryan
Educause Quarterly; v30 n4 , p4-6 ; 2007
Discusses the potential of a well-designed commons for "constructivist learning," and includes major points of commons design, including modular clusters of organically shaped and movable furniture, and appropriate equipment. Basic principles of openness, freedom, comfort, inspiration, and practicality are also explored.

The Hardest Choices.
Dillon, Naomi
American School Board Journal; v193 n12 , p38-41 ; Dec 2006
Reviews school closure crises in Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago, cities where enrollment has declined as families have migrated to more affordable suburbs. Community backlash was considerable in all cases. Successful and unsuccessful attempts to contend with it are described.

Dealing with Decline.
Stover, Del
American School Board Journal; v193 n12 , p42-44 ; Dec 2006
Discusses various reasons for decline in urban school enrollment, including migration out of the city and competition from private and charter schools. Examples from Detroit, Portland (Oregon), and Buffalo illustrate the problem, which typically calls for closing schools, reducing staff, and raising community support.

Pioneer Spirit.
Long, Cindy
NEA Today; v25 n3 , p38-41 ; Nov 2006
Describes the plight of the lone two-room schoolhouse of Baldwin, North Dakota. Local residents face state legislative action that would force school district consolidation, the school's closure, and predicate the demise of the town, even though they have repeatedly voted to raise taxes in order to keep the school open.

Two for One.
Ammon, Tim; Little, Scott
American School and University; v79 n1 , p44,47,48 ; Sep 2006
Advises facilities managers in situation where school facilities and transportation functions are being consolidated. The duties of managing such an arrangement are detailed, divided into those for facilities and those for transportation. An integrated information management systems for facilities maintenance, bus routing, fleet maintenance, and materials management is recommended.

Found Space.
Haug, Ted; Ogurek, Douglas
American School and University; v78 n13 , p166-168 ; Aug 2006
Advises on assessing, renovating, and reusing older buildings for educational use, with particular attention to adaptive reuse of vacant commercial structures as schools, which may help anchor stressed neighborhoods.

Small School with a Big Heart.
Rideout, David
School Planning and Management; v43 n6 , p74-76 ; Jun 2004
Describes a new small school in rural Granum, Alberta, which avoided closure by creating this compact facility that accommodates multi-age learning, the latest audiovisual and laptop technology, and flexible classroom spaces.

Fighting Crime by Design.
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v73 n9 , p46,48,50 ; May 2001
Shows how schools can include features and equipment in their facilities that deter vandalism and unauthorized entry. Pros and cons for lighting vacant campuses after dark are highlighted.

National Trust Urges Saving Historic Schools.
Richard, Alan
Education Week; v20 n12 , p3 ; Nov 22, 2000
Reports on efforts by several communities across the country to save and renovate historic neighborhood schools rather than closing and replacing them with edge-of-town schools that have litte character. [Free subscriber registration is required.]

School Sprawl
McMahon, Edward T.
PlannersWeb [Planning Commissioners Journal]; , p16-18 ; Jul 2000
All over the country smaller, older schools are being closed in favor of bigger, new schools in far flung locations. Neighborhood schools are worth saving, and this article describes why. [The full article can be ordered and downloaded from PlannersWeb.]

Closing Doors.
Kennedy, Mike
American School and University; v71 n11 , p16-18,20,22 ; Jul 1999
Explores how various school districts assessed and decided on whether to reinvest in expanding old schools or to construct new ones. Discusses the balancing between school enrollments, construction versus renovation costs, and varying community support.

Reflecting the Communities It Serves.
Brannelly, Kate
School Planning and Management; v38 n6 , p22, 24-25 ; Jun 1999
Describes the design of a combined middle and high school that preserved the industrial mills and farming history of two rural towns in Massachusetts. Delineates each school's separate entries and identity spaces and the design innovations that enabled grades 6-8 to be grouped with grades 9-12.



Due to lack of funding, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities is currently available only as an archived site. As of September 1, 2012 no new content will be added or updates made. We regret the need to take such steps, but should funding become available, we look forward to reinvigorating NCEF and providing this valuable resource to the educational facilities community.

If you have questions or are an organization or company wishing to support the continued operation of this industry recognized resource please contact Institute President Henry Green (, 202-289-7800).