Connecting Policy

Joint Use Schools Initiative

California School Facilities

Cultivating Leadership

Engaging Students & Schools

Joint use of school facilities is a strategic tool to maximize resources and strengthen schools and communities.


The 21st Century School Fund (21CSF) is a relied upon force in the District of Columbia on public education, particularly related to facility planning and capital budget issues. Nationally, 21CSF and its national Building Educational Success Together (BEST) collaborative partners, funded by the Ford Foundation, have developed a joint research, constituency building and communications agenda to improve urban school facilities across the country. CC&S is one of nine member organizations in BEST.

There has been a growing conversation and demand for joint use of schools as a way to expand services for children and families in convenient locations, increase opportunities for physical activity and healthy living by expanding use of school recreational spaces, leverage capital investments, and more. Successful implementation, however, takes innovative policy making and planning because more intensive sharing of public educational spaces is a complex endeavor.

CC&S developed a set of tools for implementing and sustaining joint use and joint development of public school facilities, in partnership with the 21st Century School Fund.

Joint use tools, resources, and support are a core component of CC&S’s PLUS Leadership Initiative, a multi-year initiative designed to prepare current and future educational, community, and civic leaders in the Bay Area region to develop collaborative, mutually beneficial policies and practices, and facilitate comprehensive systems-change.

School Facilities Joint Use Cost Calculator
21st Century School Fund & Center for Cities & Schools
One obstacle to sharing public school facilities is recovering the cost of joint use. One reason school districts say they do not recover their costs for joint use is they are not sure what to charge. But how do you know what to charge, if you donít know what it costs to own and operate the school buildings?
This joint use cost calculator will help:
    1) Identify the elements of school district facility related costs
    2) Calculate full cost of ownership on a per square foot and per hour basis
    3) Determine policy decisions school districts need to make about which users to subsidize
    4) Create fee structure options for various non-school users, based on the real cost of ownership
The calculator was piloted in the Bay Area to assist with decision-making about maximizing the use of public educational assets for school and community benefit. It is in BETA form and we are actively soliciting feedback for improvement.
Download Calculator Tool (.xls)
Partnerships for Joint Use: Expanding the Use of Public School Infrastructure to Benefit Students and Communities
Jeffrey M. Vincent
Funded by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, this study categorizes the types of joint use used by school districts utilized in California. We discern the challenges and lessons in joint use partnerships and make policy, procedural, and research recommendations to better support the joint use of public schools throughout the country.
Download Full Report (PDF)
Download Executive Summary (PDF)
Image of reportJoint Use of Public Schools: A Framework for a New Social Contract
21st Century School Fund and Center for Cities & Schools
In this paper, the 21st Century School Fund and CC&S provide a conceptual frame for the joint use of PK-12 public schools. We describe joint use as a strategy to provide services to children and families in convenient locations, improve opportunities for physical activity by increasing use of school recreational and outdoor spaces, leverage efficiencies in capital investments, and more. We also establish definitions for joint use and frame the key challenges and opportunities to facilitate better cross-sector planning for joint use.
Download Report (PDF)
Policy Recommendations to Expand and Sustain Community Use
21st Century School Fund & Center for Cities & Schools
Regular joint use, particularly intensive sharing of space or use by multiple parties, presents ongoing challenges to school and community leaders even when there is agreement that joint use is a good practice. Following a national analysis and synthesis of current joint use policy and practice, this report presents model policies for district and municipal leaders to incorporate joint use and joint development into the normal operations of public school districts and other local partners.
Report Coming Soon!
Image of reportSan Francisco's Public School Facilities as Public Assets: A Shared Understanding and Policy Recommendations for the Community Use of Schools
Report prepared for San Francisco Unified School District and San Francisco's Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families
This report presents research findings and policy recommendations from a year-long process involving a diverse stakeholder group to establish a more effective "joint use" strategy in San Francisco that supports students, families, schools and communities. The report includes: a) detailed descriptions and diagrams of current SFUSD facility policies and processes; b) findings on current utilization, management, policy, and budget; and c) policy recommendations to encourage a "culture" of community use of schools that prioritize partnerships with organizations that provide programs and services to SFUSD students and that are aligned with the District's goals.
Download Full Report (PDF)
Download Executive Summary (PDF)
Joint Use School Partnerships in California: Strategies to Enhance Schools and Communities
A Joint Report from CC&S and Public Health Law and Policy (PHLP) highlighting three California case studies, lessons learned, and recommended steps to crafting effective joint use partnerships.
Download Executive Summary (PDF)
Download Full Report (without Appendices. 751 KB)
Download Full Report (with Appendices, 6.6 MB)
Building Schools, Building Communities: The Role of State Policy in California
CC&S and the American Architectural Foundation convened more than 40 California policymakers and practitioners to generate state policy recommendations on school siting, joint use schools, and innovative school design.
Download Proceedings Report (PDF)
Promising Practices to Improve Schools and Communities: A Survey of Highly Collaborative and Comprehensive Education Reform Efforts
With support from the Fannie Mae Foundation, this report analyzes models of collaborative and comprehensive education reform efforts from across the country, many of which incorporated joint use strategies.
Download Executive Summary (PDF)
Download Report (PDF)
Support for the Joint Use School Initiative comes from the Healthy Eating Active Living Convergence Partnership, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and the Stuart Foundation.

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