School Site Planning & Access

This is an image of a public school in north central texas.

NCTCOG encourages school districts, local governments, and the private sector to work together to locate, or site schools so that they take advantage of existing infrastructure, enable students to walk and bike to school, avoid hazardous traffic conditions, promote orderly and efficient development in the region, and best serve and support students, families, and communities.

For information about NCTCOG Safe Routes to School Program, see Safe Routes to School webpage.

Quick Facts:

  • Since 2010, an average of 21 new schools opened every year in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
  • Distance is one of the greatest factors in the decline in walking and bicycling to school. In the Dallas-Fort Worth region, 55 percent of K-12 students live more than two miles from school (2017 NHTS).
Resources and Planning Tools

Joint-Use Agreements: Joint Use Agreements are formal agreements usually between two separate government entities, such as a school and city to share public property or facilities. These agreements can save money for each entity and ensure that existing facilities and property are used to their fullest extent by the communities they serve. For more information and examples of Joint-Use Agreements, visit the Joint-Use Agreement webpage.

Planning for Community-Oriented Schools: A Guide to School Siting in North Texas (2017)
Based on a review of state laws, best practices from across the country, and interviews with school districts, cities, and consultants in North Texas, this guidebook provides steps for improving city-school district coordination, and strategies for building community-oriented schools.

Review of State Legislation and Policies Related to School Siting Requirements (Memo) (2016)
Land Banking Programs and Best Practices Research (Memo) (2016)
Coordinating Demographic Projections (Memo) (2016)

School Siting in North Central Texas: Strategies for Effective School Facilities Planning in McKinney, TX (2012)
Following a 2011 workshop with the City of McKinney and McKinney ISD, NCTCOG developed a white paper summarizing the prevailing issues related to school siting, and recommendations to promote coordinated planning and effective school siting practices.

Events and Training

January 2022 - Connected Street Network and Subdivision Design

This webinar discussed the benefits of more connected street networks for walkability, increased safety, and more direct routes, and designing street networks to enable students to safely walk or bike to school. The webinar featured an academic perspective on the history of street design, mode shifts between different network types, and crash reduction benefits from more connected street networks. The webinar also introduced local examples from two municipalities of their strategies to encourage connected street grids and increase active transportation trips to schools.  


February 2019  -  Building Schools, Building Communities: A School Siting and Collaboration Workshop

In February 2019, more than 40 school facility planners, architects, engineers, and land use planners came together to share information about school siting and facility planning, and discuss ways in which local cities and school districts are effectively coordinating to achieve common goals.

School Siting Coordination

Regional School Coordination Task Force

 The Task Force was intended to establish a structured dialogue between school district officials, city planners, engineers, architects, and others on topics such as school facility planning and transportation to and around schools, in order to better meet shared goals related to education, health, safety, transportation, and quality of life.

October 2016

July 2016

April 2016

December 2015

National Resources
  • The Smart School Siting Tool, EPA (2016): This Excel-based tool is intended to help school agencies and other local governments work together to better align school siting and community planning processes, and evaluate and compare candidate sites for a new or renovated school.   
  • School Siting Guidelines, EPA (2011): These model guidelines are intended to encourage, inform, and improve consideration for environmental factors in local school siting decision-making processes.
  • School Site Selection and Off-site Access, ITE: This briefing sheet was developed in partnership with the National Center for Safe Routes to School, and is intended for use by transportation professionals initiating or engaged in implementing safe routes to school (SRTS).
  • School Site Planning, Design, and Transportation, ITE (2013): This report provides information to aid school and local officials, engineers, architects, and developers in creating walkable, community-based schools.
  • Smart School Siting, ChangeLab Solutions: ChangeLab Solutions promotes healthier communities for all through better laws and policies. This website includes model policies for school districts, and fact sheets on smart school siting.
  • Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School, National Trust for Historic Preservation (2002): This report examines various threats to historic neighborhood schools, including public policies that inadvertently discourage community-oriented schools. It concludes with examples of how some districts overcame these barriers, and recommendations for policy reforms.
  • Helping Johnny Walk to School, National Trust for Historic Preservation (2010): The report describes steps that states and localities can take to encourage more schools that are centrally-located and accessible by many modes of transportation.

For more information, contact Shawn Conrad.