Step three of the facility planning process established educational specifications from which you've determined the facilities and amenities needed to fulfill them. In step four, we’ll examine the process of selecting specific school sites now that you know where they are needed and how large they should be.
As you begin your search it’s important to understand, for any site you consider, the necessity to determine the net usable acreage - the minimum amount of land space needed for buildings, parking, entry and exit roadways, playgrounds, fields, desired space between the school and nearby residential or commercial buildings, and other site amenities. Net usable acreage may be affected by local regulations and state laws that affect site sizes and locations. Off-site issues, such as transportation, will likely come into play as well.
It is beneficial to establish site selection guidelines at the outset to help assess whether the site meets your District’s needs, as determined through the educational specifications, while minimizing site development costs and maximizing safe access. Site selection guidelines are divided into four categories. Each guideline within these categories should be evaluated in terms of its applicability to each site under consideration. The categories are:
In Chapter 4 of The Essential Guide to School Facility Planning I’ll walk you through the numerous guidelines and considerations that fall under each of these categories. You'll see examples and get insight into how each could materially affect your decisions, both short- and long-term. And we’ll talk about how to determine priorities, along with a method for weighing the pros and cons of a site, when none of your site options meet all your guidelines.
Read a real-world Site Selection case study.
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This step in the process is about more than just acquiring land. It involves a hard and comprehensive look at timing, location, net usable acreage, zoning, and cost. Understanding all the facilities and amenities needed to fulfill the educational specifications you have developed is key when walking into this phase. In this step, you'll learn about considering the four categories of site selection: programmatic/facility capacity, safety/environmental, economic, and location.