Skip to main content Skip to site navigation

Policies - Schools


Healthy Schools


  • Establish schools as centers of complete communities through strategies such as the Full-Service Community School Model. Ensure adequate modernization and expansion of existing schools to bolster neighborhoods, maximize the joint-use of school facilities, and site and design new schools so they are connected to neighborhoods and utilize green building design.
  • Encourage school districts to coordinate or collaborate with local governments and regional planners on long-term planning efforts such as comprehensive plans, transportation plans such as Complete Streets and SRTS, and school 5- or 10-year facilities plans. [i]
  • Encourage school districts to expand the scope of recommended participants in the planning process of school construction projects to include: parents, students, and community members; and individuals with expertise in public health, food and nutrition services, transportation planning, SRTS, regional planning, zoning and land use, physical activity/physical education, media services, school-based health/ mental health/dental care, emergency preparedness, out-of-school time, and community education. [ii]
  • Support capacity-building of local public health departments, regional planners, state agencies, and others to assist with or support assessments of school facilities and grounds (e.g., provide training to community volunteers and others). [iii]
  • Ensure family-oriented, mixed-income housing. Mixed-income housing aims to decrease high concentrations of neighborhood poverty and provide affordable housing options for families at every income level, including school teachers and staff. [iv]
  • Harness public and private funding to align program operations for efficiency. Leverage and maximize a variety of funding streams, including public investment in schools, libraries, and other community infrastructure, as well as private investment in development. [v]
  • Site schools to maximize multimodal transportation access. Strategically locating schools allows them to serve as the “home base” for a range of academic and extracurricular activities. [vi]
  • Align transit options to support school choice and extracurricular opportunities. Given that parents now have greater choice than ever in where to enroll their children in school, transit can play a key role in ensuring all families’ access to educational choices, including after-school activities. [vii]
  • Recommend that school districts assess school and community needs for spaces to be physically active as part of their ongoing strategic planning and assessment processes, and, when planning a specific construction project, identify this as a possible construction project issue to be addressed as part of a school facilities planning committee’s assessment of school needs. [viii]
  • Encourage school districts to prioritize construction projects where physical activity and physical education are impeded due to lack of space, inadequate facilities, scheduling conflicts, and transportation barriers that may contribute to imbalance in access, and where many students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch under the National School Lunch Program. [ix]
  • Adopt Suspension and Expulsion Board Policy focused on supporting implementation and funding for RJP. [xx]
  • Ensure safe, affordable and nurturing childcare facilities. [xxi]
  • Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).[xxii]
  • Local School Wellness Policy is a written document of official policies that guide a local educational agency (LEA) or school district’s efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity. [xxiii]
  • Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model is the CDC’s framework for addressing health in schools. The WSCC model is student-centered and emphasizes the role of the community in supporting the school, the connections between health and academic achievement and the importance of evidence-based school policies and practices. [xxiv]

Joint Use & Development

  • Use cross-sector partnerships to coordinate capital investments in schools, housing, transportation, and neighborhoods. [x]
  • Pursue joint development to foster schools as centers of community. Ex. Partner with school districts or private organizations to build new facilities that will be used jointly by the partners. [xi]
  • Promote the use of joint use partnerships between schools and other agencies to meet community needs, such as additional open space, health services, or community space. [xii]

Child Care Facilities

  • Include child care facilities in new development. [xiii]
  • Re-designate and repurposing existing space for child care. [xiv]
  • Remove zoning and permitting barriers to ease the creation of new child care facilities. [xv]
  • Incorporating childcare-friendly policies in city’s general plans. [xvi]
  • Secure public financing by adopting parcel taxes, sales tax add-ons, and developer impact fees to fund new child care facilities.

Greening School Yards & Farm to Schools

  • Encourage public and private schools to establish and maintain school gardens and incorporate gardening, cooking, and nutrition into related curricula. [xvii]

Restorative Justice Practices

  • Adopt policies such as Zero Youth Detention in King County Washington. Research shows that youth have a better chance at positive adulthood when they don’t interact with the juvenile legal system. Zero Youth Detention calls for partnering with youth, families, and communities and building on their strengths so that communities are safe, legal system involvement is limited or avoidable, and all youth have the opportunity to be happy, healthy, safe, and thriving.
  • Promote a “Restorative Justice City” model which seeks to reshape the urban environment to support restorative justice principles and practices. This involves forming “new infrastructure in the service of peace.” [xviii] Key strategies include:
    • Ensure equal access to open spaces. The positive effects of being near nature, both big and small, have been well documented to reduce stress, improve cognitive functioning, aid recovery from illness, and even make people more generous. New efforts to incorporate biophilic architectures and to make the wilderness is accessible to minorities will drastically transform our landscapes and our criminal justice systems.
    • Support new models for co-creating social service programs that are client-centered.
    • Apply evidence-based design to criminal justice facilities, creating a direct link between intended rehabilitative justice outcomes and the spaces we create for justice. Spaces for restorative justice and peacemaking will be informed by a clear sense of experimentation with biophilic design, play, smell, art, and touch.
    • Decentralize justice by creating spaces for peacebuilding and justice in schools, community centers, libraries, homes.
    • Support the use of arts and technology to build powerful new platforms for facilitating restorative dialogues.
    • Build connections between organizations working at the intersection of food, education, and restorative justice.
    • Support alternative structures to improve public safety and create healthy communities, for example: Reporting Centers and reentry campuses, prisons as healing and accountability centers, and courthouses as mediation centers.
  • Build Community Support for Restorative Justice Practices, it is not possible to implement a comprehensive restorative system without community ownership and support.[xix]
    • Seek Broad-Based Decision Making. Corrections agencies are not typically oriented toward grassroots participation and are generally very hierarchical organizations. Restorative justice, on the other hand, is based upon highly participatory decision making, from individual cases to system design.
    • Avoid Top-Down Mandates. Restorative justice should not be mandated in a top-down authoritarian process. The work of implementing the principles of restorative justice must be done at the local level and must involve all stakeholders.
    • Look Beyond the Criminal Justice Arena. The process of implementing restorative approaches must model the principles themselves-e.g. victims must have a voice, the community must be involved.
    • Don’t Minimize Problems to Be Faced. Even where there is a high level of support for the restorative philosophy in the criminal justice system or community, the broader public policy trend around the nation is in the opposite direction.
    • Facilitate the Process. Engagement of the community in affirming and maintaining community standards is central to the success of a more restorative approach within the criminal justice system. Greater community involvement in a restorative justice process is a powerful way both to break the cycles of crime and violence and to increase the connections among community members.


[i] Public Health Law Center, “Building Healthy Schools Health Impact Assessment on Planning School Construction Projects in Minnesota,” January 2015,​.
[ii] Public Health Law Center.
[iii] Public Health Law Center.
[iv] Deborah L. McKoy, Jeffrey M. Vincent, and Ariel H. Bierbaum, “Opportunity-Rich Schools and Sustainable Communities: Seven Steps to Align High-Quality Education with Innovations in City and Metropolitan Planning and Development.” (Center for Cities and Schools; What Works Collaborative, 2011).
[v] Jeff Vincent, “Connecting Housing, Transportation & Education to Expand Opportunity: Living, Learning & Moving Together. National Policy Convening Summary.,” Center for Cities & Schools, 2015.
[vi] Vincent.
[vii] Vincent.
[viii] Public Health Law Center, “Building Healthy Schools Health Impact Assessment on Planning School Construction Projects in Minnesota.”
[ix] Public Health Law Center.
[x] Vincent, “Connecting Housing, Transportation & Education to Expand Opportunity.”
[xi] McKoy, Vincent, and Bierbaum, “Opportunity-Rich Schools and Sustainable Communities: Seven Steps to Align High-Quality Education with Innovations in City and Metropolitan Planning and Development.”
[xii] Jeffrey M. Vincent, “Joint Use of Public Schools: A Framework for Promoting Healthy Communities,” Journal of Planning Education and Research 34, no. 2 (June 1, 2014): 153–68,
[xiii] First 5 San Mateo County, “First 5 San Mateo County: Working to Increase Quality Child Care Facilities for Children, Newborn to Age 5,” accessed January 18, 2018,
[xiv] First 5 San Mateo County.
[xv] First 5 San Mateo County.
[xvi] First 5 San Mateo County.
[xvii] City of Half Moon Bay, “First Public Draft Recreation and Healthy Community Element,” accessed January 16, 2018,
[xviii] Tessa Finlev and Deanna VanBuren, “The Restorative Justice City: From Punitive to Restorative Justice,” accessed January 18, 2018,
[xix] Kay Pranis, “How to Build Community Support for Restorative Justice,” National Institute of Justice, December 4, 2007,
[xxi] Build Up SMC, 2019,
[xxii] CA Department of Education,
[xxiii] USDA,
[xxiv] CDC,