Impact of the Location of New Schools on Transportation Infrastructure and Finance

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Ross, Catherine L.
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Public school planning and land use planning have become increasingly separated fields over the last 40 years. The result is a often disjointed growth pattern where new schools are built on the urban fringe and act as a magnet for new development that often goes against desired development patterns. Previous research on school locations, development patterns and school finance has focused on institutional barriers to cooperation and strategies to help local governments cooperate better with local land use planners. To date, there has been no significant research that attempts to quantify the relationship between school location, development patterns and the transportation infrastructure necessary to serve new development, and the impact of school sales tax initiatives on local transportation strategies. This research shows that there is a relationship between school location and new development. Four counties in Georgia were selected as case studies and analyzed with a Geographic Information System (GIS) to determine the significance of the relationship between the two. Counties were selected based on their character (urban, suburban, exurban, rural) and analyzed separately. An elementary school and high school were analyzed for each county. In addition, interviews with school facility planners were conducted to further define what institutional barriers prevent cooperation among local land use planners and school planners. It was found that there is a wide range of levels of cooperation between school planners and local planners. Some school districts had a formalized communication process with local planners, some had an ad-hoc communication process, and others had no process at all. Recommendations are made on ways to improve the cooperation between these two professional fields. This report also examines the link between education and transportation sales tax funding. This study analyzed SPLOST referenda results in Georgia to better understand the propensity of voters to approve transportation and education sales taxes, and the implications of the approval of one referendum on voter approval of another.
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