Planning for School Capacities and Locations

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Information Report No. 36 March 1952

Planning for School Capacities and Locations

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Most communities throughout the country face a shortage of school facilities brought about by the cumulative effects of depression, war, and high post-war birth rates. These effects have demonstrated that a planned school-building program is necessary, not only to rectify the present shortages, but also to cushion the school system against future emergency situations. In addition, the economic advantages of planning force themselves upon the communities even while their children attend school in half-day shifts, sit two to a desk, or daily climb the steps of a fire-hazardous building. Land shortages in densely populated areas urge the wisdom of acquiring tracts of land in advance of immediate need; current limitations upon controlled materials require that what is spent be put to the most efficient use; and diminishing sources of local income suggest that the school program should be geared to the capital budget.

School districts in increasing numbers today engage in some form of long-range programming for the building of schools. In some cases the superintendent is trained in planning for the school plant. Other cities hire professional school consultants to assist the school board in developing a long-range study of building needs. In spite of this trend within the school administration, the Council of State Governments found in a recent study entitled The Forty-Eight State School Systems that only a few of the states had systematically projected the need for additional facilities by means of a thorough analysis of the existing school plant, supplemented by reliable estimates of school population and enrollment trends.

Until fairly recent years, planning commissions have been equally remiss in engaging school plant planning. In 1944 The American City reported that of the 146 cities that had submitted information on various post-war projects being planned, only twenty-one mentioned schools. In the same year a survey was made of cities over 100, 000 to determine the extent to which school plant planning was a part of overall community planning.1 Of the ninety-two cities to which questionnaires were sent, sixty-three (or 69 per cent) replied. Of these sixty-three cities, twenty-five reported no joint planning, twenty-seven reported a close relationship between the school board and the planning commission, and eleven admitted to informal working relationships. Among the cities which maintain permanent and established cooperation between the two bodies are Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, Des Moines, Portland (Oregon), Memphis and San Francisco.

Because of its magnitude, planning for school plants calls for information which is difficult and time-consuming to gather. Correctly done, it employs or consults population and other data used in comprehensive planning. Above all, the school plant program takes into account the land use plan and major street plan — if they have been prepared. At a minimum, the existing street system, land use pattern and zoning map are considered with an eye both to the direction and nature of future community development and to desirable school environment.

More and more cities, in their growing awareness that the school district is not an island — either physically or administratively — are developing school plans which become a part of the comprehensive plan. The Planning Commission of Flint, Michigan, for example, prepared a "Report of Physical Condition and Analysis of City of Flint School System" in pursuance of a city ordinance which instructed the Commission to make and adopt a master plan for the physical development of the city to include "the general location of public buildings and other public property." In Oakland, California, the Mayor appointed a Post-War Planning Committee in 1944. This committee proposed "to develop comprehensive plans for the orderly development of all of Oakland's resources, public and private." The Board of Education then directed that, in conformity with the objectives of the Post-War Planning Committee, the school building program should be developed as a part of the Master Plan for the city of Oakland.

Although school planning may appear to be a formidable task, it does not necessarily require the services of a specialist. Larger cities, because of the complexity of the influences which bear upon school enrollments, may find it feasible to employ a consultant. This study is pointed toward city planning commissions who have been asked to prepare a school plant plan, either on their own or in cooperation with the public school administration. In this bulletin, PLANNING ADVISORY SERVICE will discuss the studies which are requisite to planning for school capacities and the criteria for selecting sites.

Determination of Capacity

The term "capacity" is used here in a dual sense. Generally, it refers to the number of pupils who can be accommodated in a particular school system whose facilities conform to accepted standards. Specifically, the capacity of an individual school may be determined as well. It is first necessary to discover the extent of overall room needed for a total school population for a certain span of time, and then to allocate or re-allocate to individual schools the portion of that school population which they can properly handle.

A ten-year period has been found convenient for school planning because population and other data used in comprehensive planning are usually available for that period. Because of the number of variables which pertain to school needs and the unpredictability of their occurrence, a school plan is usually made for a period of ten years. Except in communities with static population characteristics, predictions beyond a ten-year period should be used with caution. In areas which are undergoing rapid population growth, even the ten-year plans should be checked against newly developed data. On the other hand, a twenty-year planning period may be justified in the more stable communities. Actually, as in planning for other types of capital expenditures, a long-range plan should be made which is checked and modified annually as further information becomes available. This discussion will assume a ten-year planning period.

In planning for school capacities and facilities, the problem may be broken down into a number of questions which, if they are carefully answered after thorough investigation, will lead to the physical school plan for the next ten years. The first, and perhaps most important as well as most difficult question to answer is: HOW MANY CHILDREN WILL BE ENROLLED IN THE SCHOOLS DURING THE NEXT TEN YEARS? There are a number of factors that enter into the final calculation of a school population. Some can be isolated, measured, and within their limits relied upon as fairly accurate. Others are elusive and highly dependent upon the multitude of changes to which most communities are subject. The record of past school enrollments is the basis for prediction of future enrollments.

School Enrollment and Survival Rates

In nearly all jurisdictions, planners are fortunate in having a wealth of detailed data available for the prediction of future school enrollments. Enrollment figures are almost always available by year, by grade, by individual school, and frequently by age of student, sex, race, national origin, and origin of parents. The school administrator must gather much of this information in order to qualify for state school aid. In at least twenty-four states, state aid is based in part on a school census, which makes available additional data for schools in these states.

However, an examination of school survey reports shows that this information is not always used as exhaustively as it might be. Its value and accuracy is illustrated by one report in which "survival" rates used to predict school enrollments resulted in predictions which were accurate in the first year to less than 1/10th of 1 per cent error. Another report, that also used survival rates, shows a maximum error of less than 2 per cent during the seven years since it was issued.

The term "survival" when used in relation to school enrollments, refers to the number of children still in school who "survive" from the same group of children enumerated at an earlier period. It is expressed as a percentage of the base enumeration, usually the preceding year. Such a survival rate is not necessarily less than 100 per cent. The changes in number will include, in addition to the insignificant number of children that have died during the interim, children who have moved out of the district, children who have moved into the district, and children who have changed from private and parochial schools to public school or vice versa.

Table I shows a typical school enrollment tabulation for a city of about 15,000 population. Survival from year to year can be seen by following diagonally through the table. For example: in the school year 1940–41, there were 142 pupils enrolled in the first grade. In the next school year, 1941–42, the children had moved to the second grade, with an enrollment of 138 — a loss of four pupils. By the time the children got to the third grade, in the school year 1942–43, there were 147 pupils, a gain of nine over the preceding year. Following the table through, it will be seen that the children who were in the first grade in 1940–41 are the same group that is in the high school graduating class this year, which has an enrollment of 157. Table II shows the survival rates based on the data given in Table I.

There are several ways of calculating survival rates. The most commonly used method is to base the rate on the enrollment in the preceding grade for the preceding year. Thus, in the example quoted above, we find that 97.2 per cent of the children enrolled in the first grade survived to enter second grade. In this same group, 106.6 per cent of those enrolled in the second grade survived to enter the third grade, and so on. Table III shows the survival rates for the high school graduating class of 1952 in our example. This table also shows two other methods of figuring survival rates, one of which uses the enrollment in the first grade as a base, and the other uses the number of resident births in the school district, six years prior to the entry of the class in the first grade.

The planner will be well repaid for a close study of survival rate tables. The array shown in Table III is fairly typical. One characteristic that is common to most survival tables is the high survival rate for the ninth grade. This is usually caused by the entry of children from parochial grade schools into a public high school, and by the transfer of pupils from an outside non-high school district to a district having high school facilities. Low survival rates in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades are typical of periods of economic prosperity. Children ready for these grades have reached an age at which they are allowed to work. When times are booming, jobs are available for anyone willing, able and old enough to work. In a school district in which it is possible to count the number of children born to resident families, useful correlations between births and first-grade enrollment can be made. Table IV is an example of such a correlation. In this table, a prediction of first-grade enrollments based on known births has been made. Such predictions are unusually reliable, and, of course, better in a large city than in a small city. Such a table can be extended by predicting the future number of births to resident families. Suggestions on such prediction are contained in PLANNING ADVISORY SERVICE Information Report No. 17, "Population Forecasting," issued August, 1950, part of which is reprinted in Appendix A.

If it is felt that prediction of future enrollment by individual grade is not necessary or is too precarious, the prediction of school enrollment by groups can be made. Table V shows the basic computation for such a prediction on the 6-3-3 system. Table VI shows an extension of this method, predicting enrollments for five years in the future. The estimates in Table VI are all based on the solid foundation of known resident births. Prediction beyond this point introduces the prediction of future births. It should be pointed out that the effect of errors in the prediction of births increases as the table is extended further into the future. In other words, prediction of the school enrollment for the year 1957–58 involves the estimate of births for only one year, and an error in this estimate has relatively little effect on the prediction of total enrollment. For the school year 1958–59, there are two years of estimated births, for school year 1959–60 there are three years of estimated births, and so on.

There are no set rules on how to use survival rates for estimating school enrollment. The possibilities of its use are probably only limited by the imagination and ingenuity of the planner. In fact, the method has applications beyond school planning, and can be studied to give indications of social, economic and demographic changes in the entire city.

Table I

School Enrollment by Grades

School Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1938–39 179 176 175 233 224 213 208 216 282 237 199 170
1939–40 158 178 181 174 233 222 212 199 245 247 229 187
1940–41 142 150 174 177 172 222 206 226 219 228 219 231
1941–42 177 138 154 173 178 175 228 216 255 211 197 207
1942–43 145 161 147 161 176 185 182 224 261 236 200 177
1943–44 159 141 160 148 172 179 182 178 261 223 211 183
1944–45 140 162 147 160 150 167 186 185 216 239 187 184
1945–46 164 133 160 141 158 160 175 182 205 187 206 167
1946–47 160 162 135 148 137 159 175 167 195 190 165 180
1947–48 165 152 158 138 151 139 175 176 192 193 175 146
1948–49 176 162 153 160 136 156 143 168 190 183 176 160
1949–50 227 176 144 149 167 131 154 148 174 174 158 169
1950–51 189 217 179 147 154 162 149 141 170 140 166 152
1951–52 236 189 219 175 148 144 173 155 152 148 130 157

Note: All data used in this appendix are adapted from an actual school survey.

Table II

School Survival Rates By Grades
(Based On Enrollment In Next Lower Grade In Preceding Year)

School Year 1* 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1938–39 74.3 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
1939–40 84.0 99.5 101.6 99.4 100.0 99.1 99.5 96.7 113.4 87.6 96.6 94.0
1940–41 86.1 94.9 97.8 97.8 98.8 95.3 97.2 106.6 110.0 93.2 96.0 101.6
1941–42 78.7 97.2 102.7 99.4 100.5 101.7 102.6 104.9 112.8 96.4 86.3 94.5
1942–43 85.8 91.0 106.6 104.5 101.8 104.0 104.0 98.3 120.8 92.5 94.8 89.8
1943–44 75.8 97.3 99.3 100.6 106.8 101.7 98.4 97.8 117.4 85.5 89.4 91.5
1944–45 88.5 101.8 104.2 100.0 101.3 97.2 103.9 101.7 121.3 91.5 80.3 87.2
1945–46 89.7 95.0 98.8 95.8 98.8 106.7 107.7 97.9 110.9 86.6 86.2 89.3
1946–47 79.3 98.8 101.4 92.5 97.1 100.6 109.3 95.4 107.2 92.7 88.3 87.4
1947–48 81.4 95.0 57.6 102.2 102.0 101.5 110.6 100.5 115.0 99.0 92.1 88.4
1948–49 76.9 98.3 100.6 101.2 98.6 103.2 102.8 95.51 108.0 95.5 91.2 91.4
1949–50 83.8 100.0 88.9 97.4 104.3 96.3 98.8 103.5 103.6 91.7 86.4 96.0
1950–51 62.2 95.6 101.7 102.0 103.3 97.1 113.8 91.5 114.8 80.4 95.4 96.2
1951–52 69.3 100.0 101.0 97.8 100.6 93.5 106.8 104.0 107.8 87.1 92.8 94.5
AVERAGE 79.7 97.3 100.2 99.3 101.1 99.8 104.0 99.6 112.5 90.7 90.9 91.7

* Based on resident births 6 years previously.

n.a. Not available.

Table III

Survival Rates
High School Graduating Class of 1952

Grade Enrollment Survival Rates Base =
(Births 1934) (165) - - 100.0
1 142 - 100 86.1
2 138 97.2 97.2 83.6
3 147 106.6 103.5 89.1
4 148 100.6 104.2 89.7
5 150 101.3 105.5 90.9
6 160 106.7 112.5 97.0
7 175 109.3 123.2 106.1
8 176 100.5 124.7 106.7
9 190 108.0 133.6 115.2
10 174 91.7 122.5 105.5
11 166 95.4 116.8 100.6
12 157 94.5 110.5 95.3

Table IV

Births Related to First Grade Enrollment

Births to Resident Families First Grade Enrollment Survival
Year Number Year Number
1932 241 1938 179 74.3
1933 188 1939 158 84.0
1934 165 1940 142 86.1
1935 225 1941 177 78.7
1936 169 1942 145 85.8
1937 210 1943 159 75.8
1938 158 1944 140 88.5
1939 183 1945 164 89.7
1940 202 1946 160 79.3
1941 203 1947 165 81.4
1942 229 1948 176 76.9
1943 271 1949 227 83.8
1944 304 1950 189 62.2
1945 341 1951 236 69.3
1946 320 1952 256* 80.0*
1947 383 1953 306* 80.0*
1948 422 1954 338* 80.0*
1949 346 1955 277* 80.0*
1950 369 1956 295* 80.0*
1951 358 1957 286* 80.0*


Table V

Births Related to Total Enrollment – 1951–52

Resident births, 1940–45 1,550  
Enrollment – Grades 1–6 1,111  
    Survival 71.7%  
Resident births, 1937–39 551  
Enrollment – Grades 7–9 480  
    Survival 87.1%  
Resident births, 1934–36 559  
Enrollment – Grades 10–12 435  
    Survival 77.9%  
Resident births, 1934–45   2,610
Enrollment – Grades 1–12   2,026
    Survival   77.7%

Table VI

Estimated Total Enrollment Based on Resident Births

School Year Elementary
(Grades 1–6)
Junior High
(Grades 7–9)
Senior High
(Grades 10–12)
Total Enrollment
Births Enrollment Births Enrollment Births Enrollment
Years No. Surv. Rate No. Years No. Surv. Rate No. Years No. Surv. Rate No.
1949–50 1938–43 1246 79.8% 994 1935–37 604 78.8% 476 1932–34 594 86.0% 511 1981
1950–51 1939–44 1392 75.3% 1048 1936–38 537 85.6% 1460 1933–35 578 79.2% 458 1966
1951–52 1940–45 1550 71.7% 1111 1937–39 551 87.1% 1480 1934–36 559 77.9% 435 2026
1952–53 1941–46 1668 75.0% 1205 1938–40 1543 85.0% 460 1935–37 604 80.0% 485 2150
1953–54 1942–47 1748   1310 1939–41 588   500 1936–38 537   430 2140
1954–55 1943–48 1941   1455 1940–42 634   540 1937–39 551   440 2435
1955–56 1944–49 2016   1510 1941–43 703   600 1938–40 543   435 2545
1956–57 1945–50 2081   1560 1942–44 804   685 1939–41 588   470 2715

* Births are actual numbers, but enrollments are estimates.

Population Changes Which Affect Enrollments

Although past population changes are reflected in total enrollments, information regarding future changes in population and hence future enrollments cannot be derived from a record of past enrollment. If it is found by a comparison of census figures that the total population of the community is increasing or decreasing, then the trend line for future pupil enrollments should be modified in accordance with the population growth. Although, as is pointed out above, it is possible to predict enrollments in a particular grade for seventeen years beyond the most recent count of resident births, as soon as totals are involved other sources of population information must be sought.

To illustrate: a known group of children born in 1951 will enter the first grade (minus casualties, plus newcomers) in 1957. By means of the survival rates derived previously, this group may be followed through to the twelfth year, or 1968. But, in the meantime, this being the beginning of the year 1952, the number of births for 1952, 1953, etc., is not known, and the table showing predicted future enrollments will contain, after 1957, even greater gaps. Therefore, an estimation of total enrollments for any time beyond the next five years would have to be augmented by estimations of future birth rates.

This brings us to the first of the two main sources of population change with which the school plant planner must wrestle.

A. Birth Rates

The significance to the school program of an increased birth rate has been brought home sharply to most communities since World War II, and has been largely responsible for the tremendous popular interest in inadequate school facilities. Although the extent of such "emergency" rates is difficult to anticipate, particularly at the community level, it is the usual practice to make an estimate of future births which might be expected to occur under fairly normal conditions. A recommended method of predicting future birthrates was described in PLANNING ADVISORY SERVICE Information Report No. 17 entitled, "Population Forecasting." Because this was published in 1950, many of the new subscribers may not have access to it, and we are reprinting in the Appendix the brief section which describes the method of age-specific birth projection. It is cautioned that birth-rate predictions must be "corrected" for in- or out-migration and for mortality rates among females of child-bearing ages.

B. Migration

More immediately apparent in its effect upon school enrollments is migration. Since both in- and out-migration are related very directly to the employment and investment opportunities in the area, an assessment of the economic base and its possibilities will cast light upon the pattern of migration in a particular community. Here again we see the value to the school planner of consulting not only local economic trends, but also the industrial character of the region.

To illustrate the tremendous significance of migration patterns for long-range school planning, we quote from the PLANNING ADVISORY SERVICE bulletin on "Population Forecasting."

" ... If the area is one, like the Pennsylvania anthracite area, which may be faced with a declining industry in the near future, and there is difficulty in attracting new industries to the area, a decreasing population may be anticipated. Since it is usually the young and ambitious who move out first, the fertility rates will be affected as will the age composition of the population.

"If there are no employment possibilities for an area, eventual outmigration may cause a city to become a 'ghost town,' as has happened on the American frontier, in New England, and in one-industry communities. Conversely, if an area is particularly suitable for a new industry, and there is an above-average chance of getting such an industry, in-migration may be expected. The type of labor required by a new industry should be studied to see from what locations and population groupings the additional labor will come. Perhaps a metropolitan factory is decentralizing into a smaller town, and will attract skilled men from other communities. If they are young men with families the population composition of the town will change one way; if they are older men, it will change another. Such changes are most clearly seen in the smaller communities.

"Migration factors are not all economic, however. Especially in periods of full employment and prosperity, the advantages offered by one area in general living conditions — community services, housing, recreation and park space. etc., will cause population movement. This is one reason for the exodus to California. It is also a major reason for the movement from the large cities to the suburbs."

Although migration data are notoriously elusive, as indicated above, the greatest knowledge of what is happening will come from an understanding of the economic and other factors which cause migration rather than from census figures on past trends. Other sources the planner may consult for information on the current situation are those organizations and agencies that come in contact with migrant people: moving and express companies, real estate agencies, railroads, employment offices, utilities, telephone offices, and social agencies. Because the school planner is interested in where as well as in how many, an analysis of building permits and new subdivision plats will prove helpful, particularly since the latter will indicate future densities.

Extreme in-migration affects school enrollments in ways that are especially spectacular. Cities in such areas as the western and southwestern parts of the United States may expect to feel the effects not only of high birth rates during the period 1945–1950, but also of continued high birth rates due to the youthful age of a large percentage of in-migrants. An extremely high increase in population under five years of age may also point to the probability that this increase represents first- and second-born children, indicating that these families are just starting and that a high birth rate may be expected to continue.

Although past enrollment is the major determinant in answering the question of how many children will be enrolled in the schools during the next ten years, other factors are of some significance, particularly in certain communities.

Ethnic Characteristics

Immigrant families tend to have more children than do native-born, and Negro families generally have a higher number of children. A community which contains a large percentage of either group should take this fact into account when calculating average number of children per family.

Parochial Schools

Communities with a large Catholic population will need to consider the influence which may change enrollments in parochial schools. An increase in the enrollment in parochial schools would be reflected in a decrease in enrollment in public schools. Since parochial schools charge tuition, their enrollment may also be affected by economic conditions. In Milwaukee, 30 per cent of the total school enrollment is in parochial and other private schools. Because the parochial school system usually has too few high schools to accommodate the graduates of its elementary schools, the enrollment in public high schools may be disproportionately large. Estimates of future public high school attendance must allow for this fact.

Period of Attendance

Children are staying in school for more years than they did three decades ago. However, against the trend of extended education must be reckoned factors which vary with nation-wide situations as: extensive job opportunities in times of prosperity which act to decrease enrollments; a decrease in economic prosperity which would act to increase enrollments; and national legislation concerning military drafts and universal military training.

Pupil Location

A second question whose answer is perhaps less precise is: WHERE WILL THE CHILDREN BE LIVING? The city map showing distribution of the entire population will be helpful, but more exact information can be obtained from a spot map developed from school registration data. In the School Building Survey for Roselle, New Jersey, conducted by Engelhardt, Engelhardt and Leggett, Educational Consultants, the residential locations of pupils for each three-year span of grades (1–3, 4–6, 7–9, 10–12) were spotted on separate maps. This breakdown into three-year groups is particularly useful in investigating the location of pupils in higher grades in future years.

In Stillwater, Oklahoma, the distribution of pre-school children was mapped, and a picture was obtained of the present residence of probable future elementary school children. For this type of information, a house-to-house survey is necessary. In Stillwater, according to the report of the superintendent, the survey was successfully conducted by school children. In other jurisdictions the FTA has undertaken this type of survey. Where funds are available, paid surveyors or school teachers during the summer months are employed. However, caution should be observed when using pre-school figures. Young parents with young children may be content to live in apartments or flats, but when the children are ready for school they tend to move to outlying areas.

The effect on school enrollments of large-scale housing projects cannot be overlooked. An article by William H. Coleman, Chief Specialist on School Facilities of the Federal Works Agency entitled, "Planning Adequate School Facilities as an Integral Part of Large-Scale Housing Projects," The American School and University, 1945, points out that a housing project containing from 1,500 to 3,000 dwelling units would be large enough to support a complete school. A project of 3,000 dwelling units could utilize two elementary schools of twenty rooms each, from grades kindergarten to sixth, and a combined junior-senior high school of thirty-two class rooms, including laboratories, shops, gymnasium, library, cafeteria, and auxiliary rooms. Many housing projects, however, are not large enough to justify their own school system. In either event, it is likely that the residents will be young couples with growing children, and the current high concentration of grade-school pupils will in five to ten years constitute a high concentration of secondary pupils. A recent study made at Harvard University indicates that the ages of residents in new subdivisions fall consistently in the major productive bracket. Or stated another way, it may be expected that these families have moved to suburban areas because they are planning to raise families. Therefore, if an average number of children per family has been calculated for the city as a whole, this rate may be expected to be higher in subdivisions.

Very important questions which bear upon the residential distribution of pupils during the next ten years are:

How is a particular neighborhood zoned, and is it in a state of transition from residential to commercial or industrial uses?

Is its ethnic character changing?

Are the residential structures generally in good condition, or are they gradually deteriorating?

In what parts of town are new residences being constructed?

The answers to some of these questions will be based upon personal observation, although block data information in cities of 50,000 or more may furnish considerable information. In smaller cities, the informed opinion of persons acquainted with the city will probably be the best source of information. The important thing, of course, is that these factors be taken into account in appraising the locale of pupil residence ten years hence, even though they cannot be reduced to calculable units.

Having estimated the number of children who will be enrolled in the public schools during the coming years and their probably residence, the next questions to confront the school planner are: WILL THE PRESENT PLANT BE ADEQUATE TO TAKE CARE OF THE EXPECTED ENROLLMENT? And, IF THE PRESENT PLANT IS NOT ADEQUATE, WHERE SHOULD NEW SCHOOLS BE BUILT, HOW BIG SHOULD THEY BE, AND WHAT OLD SCHOOLS SHOULD BE REPLACED?


In order to evaluate the adequacy of schools, reference must be made to models or standards which pertain to the "good" school. Standards for appraisal of condition of structure, and adequacy of structure in relation to the educational program are in the jurisdiction of the school educator, the engineer, and the architect. The standards with which we are concerned in planning for school capacities and facilities, for the most part, are standards of exterior physical relationships, that is, of the building as a whole, or its parts, in relation to numbers of pupils, to the surrounding neighborhood, or to other physical structures.

There is no single authoritative source of information on such standards. Often state or city boards of education adopt a certain set of recommended standards which then are applied consistently throughout the system. In general, these standards have evolved from practices prevailing in cities which have a reputation for progressive school programs and administrative practices. Usually, an optimum condition is described, followed by a statement of maximum (or minimum) limit, extension beyond which is undesirable from the standpoint of child health and energies or of instructional adequacy, as the case may be.

PLANNING ADVISORY SERVICE has inspected standards recommended by various professional organizations and school studies, and presents below those on which there is greatest agreement and which are supported by professional organizations. Although they represent the most up-to-date opinion, the American Council on Education has indicated that further research is needed on the subject of standards in school planning. In most cases, grade subdivisions are on the basis of the 6-3-3 plan of organization: six years of elementary, three of junior high, and three of high school. Because the kindergarten and day-nursery facilities are not consistently treated in all references, and because educational philosophy concerning these pre-school years is in a state of flux, they have not been included.

Service Distance Radii

Table VII

The Journey to School – Maximum Desirable Limitations

One-Way Walking Distance in Miles One-Way Travel Time
in Minutes (by conveyance)
  A B A B
Elementary 1/4 – 1/2a 3/4 (20)a 30
Junior High 3/4 – 1b 1 1/2 15 – 25c 60
Senior High 1 – 1 1/2b 2 20 – 30d 60

A. Planning the Neighborhood. American Public Health Association, Committee on the Hygiene of Housing. Chicago: Public Administration Service, 1948.

B. Guide for Planning School Plants. 1948 Edition. Plant Guide Committee of the National Council on Schoolhouse Construction; and American School Buildings. American Association of School Administrators, Washington, D.C.: National Education Association of the United States, 1949.

a. In exceptional circumstances, the time may be a 3/4 mile walk, or 20 minutes' time elapsed by school bus, if children may obtain hot school lunches at nominal cost.

b. Assumes lunch room available, seating at least half the pupils and serving hot lunches at nominal cost.

c. Without cost to pupils.

d. With 10¢ maximum daily fare.

Number of Pupils and Floor Area

The two major considerations to be taken into account in deciding upon a minimum standard for number of pupils per room are (1) instructional requirements, and (2) the physical arrangement which permits visibility to the front of the room and sufficient working space per desk. Although certain limits may be named for elementary schools and regular class rooms in secondary schools, the requirements of specialized class rooms are too diverse to enumerate here.

Agreement is general that there exists an optimum range of desirable total pupil enrollments for different categories of schools. The National Commission on School District Reorganization of the National Education Association recommends schools in which:

(a) The enrollment in kindergarten and grades 1 through 6 is not less than 175 pupils with seven full-time teachers, or preferably, 300 or more pupils with twelve or more teachers.

(b) The enrollment in secondary grades (junior and senior high) is not less than 300 pupils, or 75 pupils of each age group with twelve or more fulltime teachers.2

An agreement on maximum total enrollment is more difficult to discover and is one of the subjects needing further investigation. A recent survey in San Francisco proposes an upper limit of 500 to 800 pupils for elementary schools. (N. L. Engelhardt, "The School Building Survey of San Francisco, California," American School Board Journal, October 1948, p. 45.) The Public Education Association has investigated educational considerations having a bearing on the size of elementary school buildings and observes that larger units tend to result in restrictions and limitations on pupil learning.3 Large buildings of more than twenty class room units call for rigid scheduling, rationing of special facilities, and tend to have a stifling effect upon the imaginativeness of teachers and children. The Committee concludes that experience favors elementary schools of 350 pupils. In densely populated areas where schools larger than 350 are unavoidable they recommend that special facilities be duplicated so that each group would have the advantages of a textile working environment.

Junior and senior high schools should be considerably larger so that a variety of subjects commensurate with the desired educational program may be offered. Although it cannot be assumed that class rooms may be added indefinitely, precise information is lacking on optimum total enrollment for secondary schools. The Ann Arbor–Ypsilanti Metropolitan Area Plan (Washtenaw County Planning Commission, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1951) recommends for its particular area an optimum size of 800 students for a junior high school. This figure is based on walking distance radii and a population of 5,000 per sons per square mile. In smaller cities, the requirements imposed by walking distance and travel times may be utilized to mark the top limits of enrollment. In large cities of high residential density, these requirements will result in a school of greater number of enrollments.

On the basis of these minimums set forth by the National Commission on School District Reorganization, the average class room would contain twenty-five pupils per teacher. The educational consulting firm of Engelhardt, Engelhardt and Leggett points out in their School Building Survey – Roselle, New Jersey, that the desirable class size has been steadily decreasing, and that the best financially supported schools in the country keep classes to an average of twenty pupils. In other jurisdictions thirty-five pupils per class is considered not too high. Therefore, thirty pupils to a room may be used as an average in calculating school capacities. Further, most school specialists agree that thirty square feet of floor space per pupil (exclusive of storage and accessory space) is the absolute minimum required for an adequate, modern program of instruction.

With these various qualifications kept in mind then, the requirements concerning number of pupils and floor area may be summarized in the following manner:

Table VIII

Optimum Number of Pupils and Floor Area

  Max. Pupils per Class Minimum Floor Space per Pupil Total Pupil Enrollment per School
Minimum Desirable Minimum Desirable Range
Elementary 25–30 30 sq. ft. 175 300 350–400
Junior High   25–30 sq. ft.a 300   700–1,500
Senior High   25–30 sq. ft.a 300   1,000–2,000

A. Your School District. Report of the National Commission on School District Reorganization. Washington, Department of Rural Education, National Education Association, 1948.

B. Local Planning Administration, Second Edition, International City Managers' Association, Chicago, 1948.

a. For the typical academic, recitation, or interchangeable room. For requirements of specialized class rooms, laboratories and shops, see American School Buildings and Guide for Planning School Plants.

Size of School Site — Gross Acreage

There is general agreement on the minimum desirable acreage. Although acreage is related to size of school enrollments, most authorities say that the minimum land area requirement for elementary schools is five acres, with an additional acre for each one hundred pupils of ultimate enrollment. Secondary schools should have a minimum of ten acres, plus an additional acre for each one hundred pupils of ultimate enrollment. Because of continually expanding educational programs and wider community use of schools, there is a trend toward larger and larger school sites. N. L. Engelhardt, Jr., in an article entitled, "Revelations in Planning School Building Programs" and published in The American School and University, 1951–52, noted as a result of studies made over the past five years that many new junior high schools have ground areas ranging from 25 to 50 acres, and that there were numerous instances of new senior high schools being built upon sites of from 40 to 100 acres.

Play and Recreational Areas

In the realm of recreational areas, the dividing line between uses which are strictly for school purposes and those which may be used by the community is not easy to draw. Although recreation departments and departments of education traditionally have enjoyed relative autonomy, it is now widely accepted that playgrounds and playfields should fit into the city-wide plan for recreational areas. Not only should they be designed for after-hour and summer use, but also they should contain facilities which may be used by the adult members of the community. A later section will discuss the growing belief that the school should serve the needs of the community from childhood to old age and give examples of provisions for this service.

Certain agreed-upon minimums for play and recreation areas furnish a working figure for use in planning for school facilities. In general, if the broad requirements of gross acreage and site characteristics are met, the matter of minimum play area will be accounted for. But often in urban regions of high residential and population density, where the need for open space is correspondingly greater, sites for building new schools or for expanding existing ones are scarce, and it is consequently necessary to refer to standards of minimum area. For elementary schools, the lowest recommended recreation area is 100 square feet per pupil, with 250 square feet per pupil being the more desirable minimum. For junior and senior high schools, the minimum recreation area is determined by the type and number of special game areas decided upon and whether these are indoors or out-of-doors; tennis courts, playfields, swimming pools, track courses, etc.

Site Criteria

Beyond the accepted rules of minimum accessibility and gross acreage, criteria for measuring the worth of school sites are gaining general favor. Although the location of schools near the center of present and probable future school population is a first requirement, schools also bear a certain relationship to other physical structures in the community. For economic as well as common-sense reasons, a health center, a library, or a recreation center, for example, which is serving the same neighborhood as the school, should be planned and perhaps even located with the school. Because schools rely on many public utilities and municipal services, they should be placed within range of water, gas, sewers, fire protection, transportation, and electricity for power and light. Further, sites should be located so that the districts they serve will not overlap areas served by other schools.

On the negative side of the picture of site locations, there is a long list of obstacles and disturbances which should be avoided. These obstructions to pupil safety or school environment concern not only the locale itself but also the approaches to it. In general, the journey to school should be safe; there should be no dangerous intersections to be maneuvered, nor rugged terrain to climb. The school environment should be conducive to study and play. It is in the process of translating ideal requirement into specific conditions that school plant planners sometimes fail. The National Council on School House Construction, in Guide for Planning School Plants, thus summarizes the good school environment:

"(1) Safe and healthful conditions for the pupils and teachers while on the school grounds, in the building and in the immediate neighborhood of the school;

(2) Freedom from disturbing noises such as those resulting from heavy trucks, automobiles, railway and airplane traffic; and fire sirens and factory whistles;

(3) Freedom from obnoxious odors;

(4) Surroundings pleasing to the eye, that will tend to create a feeling of pride, happiness and contentment." (pp. 18–19)

In the Cincinnati public school system an established procedure is followed for the selection of sites. Dr. John H. Herrick of the Cincinnati Board of Education, describes the process in an article in The American School and University, 1947–48.4 After desirable criteria have been officially adopted and the overall program determined, a search for possible sites and analysis of each site is made. Tentative district boundaries are marked from information on building activities and residential spot maps. In this manner the general area in which to seek a suitable site is determined. Actual possibilities are chosen after field trips are made and tax evaluation data and topographic maps are inspected. An analysis of each possible site is made in reference to the criteria on the nine-page standard analysis form which is summarized below.


  1. Travel distances — number of pupils by half-mile walk-zones.
  2. Undesirable travel conditions such as no sidewalks or bad, steep grades, unpopulated areas, business or industrial areas, and railroads. Number of pupils affected by each.
  3. Traffic flow on major streets and pupils crossing each.
  4. Number of pupils crossing each dangerous intersection. Number of pedestrian accidents from police records.
  5. Use of public transportation — number of pupils transported, number of transfers, number traveling in same direction as people going to and from work.
  6. Possible new subdivisions, new thoroughfares, or other developments that would affect direct accessibility.


  1. Type of district — present use, zoning, probable future zoning, proximity to business districts.
  2. Atmospheric conditions — smoke, dirt, odors.
  3. Sources of noise — factories, railroads, street cars, trucks, main streets, radio interference, fire or police stations, hospitals, airports, etc.
  4. Light obstructions — present and possible future.
  5. View in each direction.
  6. Proximity to other public facilities — parks, libraries, and playgrounds.
  7. Possible future developments affecting environment — slum clearance projects, new streets, etc.


  1. Area in relation to standards.
  2. Play area per pupil.
  3. Adequacy of removal of building from street, playground away from street, parking area.
  4. Possibility of future enlargement of building and effect on play space per pupil.
  5. Possibility of future enlargement of site.

Form and Orientation

  1. Ratio of length to width.
  2. Effect on orientation of building, and location of other facilities.
  3. Sketch of site.

Topography and Soil

  1. General nature of topography.
  2. Nature of topsoil and subsoil (test borings).
  3. Natural drainage, springs, seepage from surrounding hills, and possibilities of floods.
  4. Wind exposure.


  1. Tax valuation.
  2. Appraisals or other indications of costs.
  3. Related factors — need for grading, excavating, special footings, drainage systems, long utility lines, retaining walls, removal of existing improvements;, trees and boulders, etc.

Summary and Conclusions

  1. Summary of data under each of above six headings.
  2. General summary statement as to suitability of site."

After all sites have been analyzed a composite report is submitted to the board of education accompanied by numerous maps showing residential location of pupils, transportation routes, zoning, and topography. On one of the Cincinnati maps worthy of special note are displayed the "Major Geographical Obstacles to School District Planning in Cincinnati": public forests, cemeteries, other municipalities, public institutions, airports, major hills, and railroads. After due consideration the board officially designates the site and refers its choice to the city planning commission for approval. The final step is actual purchase.

Techniques for Analysis of Existing School Plant

In practical terms, the appraisal of existing capacities and facilities is an inventory — an itemized list of the "stock" of schools and their worth as measured against the agreed-upon standards and criteria. It is at the appraisal stage in the planning program that all of the data which have been collected concerning pupil population and distribution, major arteries, zoning maps, land-use plans, etc., are brought into the picture of school adequacy. One of the most effective ways of securing a comprehensive view of the situation and of comparing existing structures with desirable criteria is by means of graphic devices. The map presented below, prepared by the Seattle City Planning Commission, is an example of a frequently used technique: circles with a halt-mile radius are drawn about each existing elementary school, and the residential location of each five pupils outside the walking distance is indicated by spot. This map immediately reveals the need for a new elementary school and its logical location.

In the city of Oakland spot maps on Ozalid film have been made of the residential distribution of pupils in each of the elementary and secondary school districts. When a particular area is under study, the Ozalid spot maps are placed over the various maps which show transportation routes, zoning, land utilization, streets (main arterials, freeways, and primary surfaced streets, census tracts (showing acreage and population), and multiple versus single-family dwellings (posted monthly). By these devices the relationship of pupil population and existing schools to any or all of the uses indicated is immediately apparent.

For quantitative items which can be isolated, the results of the inventory may be presented in tabular form. Age of structure is one reliable indication of whether or not a school plant is up-to-date. Because modern educational philosophy considers the purpose of the school plant is to provide, the physical facilities for the educational program, the obsolescence of a building is reflected in the manner in which it is able to adjust to the demands of the curriculum as well as in its physical condition. Further, the shifts in school population over a period of several decades may have rendered the location of the school entirely unsuitable. School buildings have a useful life of forty to fifty years. After this age, maintenance and repairs become excessive. In some cases it may not be necessary to wreck a school building at the end of fifty years; but in order to modernize the heating, plumbing and wiring systems, or to make major architectural alterations, the investment more often than not will approximate the cost of a new building. A tabulation of construction dates and cost of original investment will aid in making a decision on whether the old school should be retained or a new one built.

Table IX

Age and Cost of Schools

Building Date of Construction Dates of Additions Age of Original Construction Cost of Original and Additions
Cleveland 1909 1918 43 $151,342
Harding 1922 - 30 85,953
McKinley 1911 1919 41 367,922
Junior High:        
Thurstone 1913 1922, 1940 39 524,500
Senior High:        
Union 1925 1940 27 610,176

Because of the forces which have resulted in nation-wide shortages of schools, many communities will find themselves in possession of a large number of out-of -date buildings. Obviously, these cannot be replaced at one time, and the assignment of priorities for razing and building anew must depend upon factors other than condition of structure alone.

Another measure of present and potential future adequacy is the capacity of the buildings for the number of pupils who are or will be enrolled. Table X below is an example of a convenient model for a measurement of present adequacy.

Table X

Enrollment of Schools

School Number of Classrooms Capacity* 1950 Enrollment Percent**
Capacity Used
Washington 11 330 351 106
Adams 23 690 269 39
Lincoln 20 600 950 156
Roosevelt 15 475 790 162
Total Elementary 69 2095 2360 113
Total Junior High        
Total Senior High        

*Capacity based on standards described above for general-purpose class rooms, i. e., 30 pupils per room.

**It cannot be expected that a school will be used to 100 per cent capacity at all times; a maximum of 125 per cent is tentatively submitted as a reasonable percentage.

Similarly, size of site is a measure of present adequacy and an indication of potential use. In view of the radical revision of site standards in recent years it is quite unlikely that many communities will find that their schools have more than enough ground. The degree of site-acreage adequacy and the availability and cost of adjacent land will aid in deciding how long a particular school should be maintained.

Table XI

Sizes of Existing Sites in Comparison with Standard Areas

School Size in Acres No. of Pupils at 100% Existing Capacity Total Acreage Needed* Existing Deficient or Excess Acreage
Washington 0.76 330 9.3 -8.54
Adams 2.58 690 14.0 -11.42
Lincoln 3.40 600 13.0 -9.60
Roosevelt 12.00 475 11.5 -/-0.50
Total Elementary 18.74 2,095 47.8 -29.06
Total Junior High        
Total Senior High        

*On basis of standards described above under Size of School Site — Gross Acreage.

Determining Future Needs

In the process of making recommendations and decisions concerning a future program, two categories of judgment are indicated: first, an opinion or conclusion about each of the existing schools; and second, a conclusion regarding new construction, both in terms of individual schools to be built and in terms of total building and land areas for long-range budgeting and fund-raising purposes. In most surveys a concluding appraisal of an existing school takes the form of a recommendation presented in narrative form with personal observations as well as those based on the objective sort of measurements. A typical recommendatory statement might conclude that the Washington School building, for example, has a remaining useful life of about fifteen years; that the peak enrollment in 1965 will exceed the 125 per cent maximum desirable capacity; that because of the great deficit in ground area additional acreage should be acquired; and that this school should be retained for another fifteen years contingent upon increased acreage and the transfer of some of the pupils to another district.

Totals give an overall measure of the actual quantitative construction needed; they do not reveal the value of individual schools, nor of one school in relation to the school population it serves. However, totals are valuable in measuring the extent of the need for new schools and in deciding upon a program of replacement of old schools and building of new. In the model tables below may be summarized the basic data needed in a building program. They are presented separately here in order to identify the steps involved.

Table XII

Schools Reaching Fifty Years of Age by 1961

Year Schools No. of Rooms  
Elementary Jr. High Sr. High Total
1953 Rosemont 10     10
1955 Union High     40 40
1959 Edison 15     15
1960 Piney Heights 15     15
1961 Marshall 20     20
    60   40 100

All schools built fifty years ago are not necessarily obsolete, particularly if the site is large, if the interiors are susceptible of various uses, and if the building has been progressively modernized through the years. If we find that the number of elementary class rooms in schools reaching age fifty by 1961 is 100, but conclude that Marshall School, for example, because of its general condition and location may profitably be used for an additional ten years, or through 1971, then the total number of class rooms in need of replacement will be eighty. If to this is added the number of new rooms needed so that the total will accommodate the average enrollment for the decade 1952–1961, we will have an estimate of construction needs for the next ten years. This information may be set forth as follows:

Table XIII

School Building Replacement Program

Type of School Av. Enrollment 1952–1961 Reqd. No. Class Rooms* Present No. Class Rooms No. to be replaced Net Existing Total New Class Rooms Needed Annual Replacement (No. of Rooms)
Elementary 12,300 410 375 80 295 115 11.5
Junior High 5,500 183 107 0 107 76 7.6
Senior High 4,000 133 256 0 256 0 0

*Based on 30 pupils per class room.

The calculation of gross acreage needed for a future ten-year period is not so amenable to tabulation. In the first place, even though existing schools may fall far short of desirable site standards, the usual complications which surround urban land in central areas — not the least of which is high price — make it almost impossible ever to acquire standard areas. In the second place, area standards for sites are related to the school building as well as to the number of pupils (i.e., five acres for each elementary school, plus an additional acre for each one hundred pupils of ultimate enrollment). Therefore, a decision on the number of new schools to be built would be necessary in order to calculate gross acreage. A third difficulty is that the requirements governing site selection very nearly determine its choice. Therefore, the cost of total land to be acquired will probably be in terms of total cost of sites already selected, rather than cost of a total number of acres of known amount but of unidentified location.

In conclusion, it should be emphasized that a strict mathematical schedule cannot be adhered to and that many subjective factors enter into final decisions. New schools are built as complete units, not at the rate of so many rooms per year. The identification of building needs in terms of numbers of rooms will aid in determining unit costs and in deciding budget priorities. The types of analyses described here will serve as practical guides in determining and maintaining a level of school construction commensurate with future needs.

Planning for Use of Schools as Community Centers

Community use of school buildings for recreation and special classes and programs is a growing trend which is increasingly figuring in planning for school capacities and facilities. Approximately three-fourths of the states have passed specific legislation which permit the use of school buildings for designated community, civic, or recreational purposes. Our aging population, the increase of leisure time, and the contemporary emphasis on adult education have resulted in a confirmed educational philosophy which maintains that the school should be planned to serve people in the community from childhood to old age. In a recent questionnaire survey made of nineteen cities by the Council of Social Agencies in Cincinnati it was found that schools are being used after hours for a wide range of activities. This community use, often referred to as the "lighted school" program, may be financed in three different ways: (1) Use by community groups on a rental basis — the most common — may consist simply of a fee for special meetings or a contract for an advance program. (2) In several cities the board of education pays the building maintenance cost and the department of recreation supplies leadership and materials. (3) The board of education offers classes in drawing, art, drama, or gymnastics.

Because school buildings grow obsolete and deteriorate over a period of time, it is sound policy to secure maximum educational and social dividends during the life of the building. Further, unless space is used to a maximum, it will be unproductive for a large portion of the twenty-four hour day. A concomitant of broad community use of schools is a wide community sharing of the financing of schools, and implies perhaps that the school budget should not be burdened with the entire capital costs, that the expenses of land and buildings as well as maintenance should be shared by other municipal groups.

The American Association of School Administrators and the National Recreation Association, in a brochure entitled "Planning School Buildings for Community Recreation Use," make the following suggestions for carrying out a joint community recreation program:

"1. Provide one or more community rooms to serve as lounges or places where young people or adults can drop in outside school hours under proper sponsorship or supervision. Attractive, well-lighted and ventilated ground floor rooms prove most satisfactory.

2. Provide special cupboards for storing equipment, tools and materials used for community groups in art rooms, craft shops, and other rooms where such duplicate storage space is necessary for convenient use.

3. Provide separate lockers for community use in locker rooms serving the gymnasium, swimming pool or outdoor recreation areas.

4. Control heating and lighting for parts of the school used by community groups, to reduce heating and lighting costs.

5. Provide for closing off corridors and hallways where necessary to control community use after school hours and to prevent excessive custodial service cost for this purpose.

6. In elementary schools and in junior high schools to be used by younger children, provide a play room that opens on the playground, which is large enough for a variety of activities and contains cupboards for storing play materials.

7. Provide toilets and drinking fountains that are easily accessible from the playground and that, with the play room, can be shut off from the rest of the building.

8. Provide an entrance to the section containing community facilities that is easily reached from the street and well lighted at night.

9. There is an advantage in floodlighting play areas so that there may be a maximum of twilight and evening use.

10. Cafeterias can be used to greater advantage if there is a small stage to encourage wider utilization of a space which is normally used too little.

11. Plan all facilities with a view to multiple use. Many of the facilities designed primarily for school purposes will be usable for community purposes: very few of the facilities designed for community use will not be usable for the school program."

A recent study completed by the Committee on Modern School Building Needs of the Public Education Association on the subject "How the School Building Can be Planned to Serve Other Community Needs" contains an exhaustive list of recommendations for each type of special purpose room as well as the regular class rooms. Not only should libraries, auditoriums, and crafts rooms be available for adult use, but also cafeterias, music rooms, storage rooms, and other types of specialized areas. Perhaps the most complete study of the use of schools as community centers is contained in the book, Community Uses of Public School Facilities, by Harold H. Punke, Columbia University, King's Crown Press, 1951, 247pp. This book considers such questions as tort liability of school districts in connection with community uses of school facilities, and commercial uses, as well as the more commonly discussed subjects of cultural, religious, and academic uses.


The process of planning for school size and location and for the capacity of the school plant cannot be separated from other types of community planning. The school as the physical framework for an educational program is demonstrably related to other physical structures of the community; and just as the educational program reflects the type and adequacy of the physical plant, so does it reflect the immediate environment which surrounds the plant. The simple act of building an express highway on the periphery of a new school grounds may not only make it difficult for attending children to get to school, but may also retard or even divert to another area the development of the residential community which the new school was built to serve. The annals of school-building history are well illustrated by similar examples, proving that the introduction of a new development may not only damage the immediate location but may also set in motion forces which will have far greater implications for the school plant.

The gradually increasing number of statutory requirements for some type of cooperation or coordination between the school board and the planning agency bear witness to the belief that school planning is rightly a natural subdivision of community planning. In certain communities the planning agency has prepared preliminary plans for the school plant. But the significance of this trend is not that planning commissions are moving into the professional field of school planning but rather that the comprehensive plan for the community is being used as a basic aid in school planning. On the other hand, because of the commission's knowledge and understanding of what is happening in the community in the way of population changes, new residential construction, and trends in economic and industrial development, the planning agency is perhaps the one body best equipped for say where schools should be located.

The importance of the relationship between school and community developments extends into the realm of financing, which is the nexus between plan and construction. Because of the great inequalities between regions, states, and even within states, both in need for schools and in ability to finance a school program, it is difficult to make generalizations concerning the relationship between school financing and financing of other capital improvements. In some areas, unless state funds are provided, districts may find that they are hopelessly handicapped by statutory bonding and taxing limits. On the other hand, in more than one instance, a board of education is receiving as much as 50 per cent of the taxes collected at the local level. Even with the great shortage of schools that exists in these particular fast-growing communities, the question may fairly be raised regarding the financing of other local services. The conclusion seems inevitable that if planning for schools is inseparable from other elements of the master plan, and if the school system remains a separate part of local government and a separate financing agency, then in the interests of other needed public works the financial program at least should be coordinated with respect to the source of municipal income.


1 Calvin Grieder, The American School and University, 1945, pp. 25–30.

2 The Forty-Eight State School Systems, pp. 55–56.

3 Size of Elementary School Units (A report of the Committee on Modern School Building Needs) May 9, 1951.

4 "Cincinnati's Program for Acquiring School Sites," pp. 76–79.

Appendix A

Excerpt from PLANNING ADVISORY SERVICE Information Report No. 17, "Population Forecasting," August, 1950.

Measurement of Fertility

In population projection, it is necessary to anticipate the number of persons who will be born and will survive to replace the present generation. There are a number of measurements of birth rates. Probably the most widely used has been the crude birth rate or the number of live babies born in anyone year per 1,000 of the total population. A refinement of the crude birth rate is the specific birth rate, which is defined as the number of births per 1,000 women of child-bearing ages (15–49). If the number of women of child-bearing ages changes, the number of births will be affected. For this reason, the specific birth rate is more useful than the crude birth rate. Since birth rates differ for women of different ages (rates are highest for the 20– 24 and the 25–29 age groups), it is advisable to use a further refinement for projection purposes — the age- specific birth rate or the number of births per 1,000 women of different age groups.1 An illustration of the procedure which may be used for projection purposes follows:

Information on the number of births, the age of the mothers, and the number of married women of child-bearing age, is available from census data and vital statistics data. A table can be constructed showing how many children were born to 1,000 women of each of the age groups from 15–49. This may be done for a number of previous years to reveal trends of births for the particular area. The next step is to make assumptions about the continuation of these birth trends.

Fertility figures are generally computed in five-year periods. After presenting data in a tabular form and analysing the data for trends, and analysing factors affecting population change, it was assumed in a fictional area that the birth rate per 1,000 women, age 20–24, would be 150 per year for the years 1950–54.

If there were 5,000 women in that age group in 1950, a birth rate of 150 would mean that 750 children would be born to this group in 1950, and for the period 1950–54, five times that amount, or 3,750. This assumes, however, that the number of women in the group remains constant, which it does not. Some of the women will have died by the end of 1954, others will have been added or subtracted by in- or out-migration. The population must be "survived" — i.e., "corrected" for the number expected to die. Assuming that there is a mortality rate of 2 per 1,000 for women of this age-group who will die before they could bear children, 50 women would die during the five-year period. This figure should be subtracted from the total number of women in this age-group. Assuming that there was an annual net in-migration of 50 women in this age-group, the anticipated births must be computed and added to the previous total. The computation steps are illustrated in the following table:

Table I

Age-Specific Birth Projection For Single Age Group

Age Group: 20–24, Period: 1950–54

    Computation or Source
(a) Number of females in 15–19 age-group in 1950 5,000 (U.S. Census, 1950)
(b) Mortality rate of female 20–24 age-group 2 / 1,000 per year (Previous local vital statistics)
(c) Surviving females at end of 1954 4,950 (a) - (5x (a) x (b))
(d) Average number of females in group, 1950–54 4,975 (a) -1- (c) / 2
(e) Child-bearing rate of 20–24 age-group 150 / 1,000 per year (Previous local birth records)
(f) Children born to age-group 1950–54 3,731 5 x (d) x (e)
(g) Annual net in-migration of females in 20–24 age-group* 50 (U.S. Census and local records)
(h) Average additional females in age-group from in-migration 125 5 x (g) / 2
(i) Children born to in-migrant females 1950-54** 94 5 x (e) x (h)
(j) Total children, age-group 0–4, added to population by age 20–24 females during period 1950–54*** 3825 (f) -/- (i)

*This figure should be corrected for survival, similar to (c).

**This assumes the same child-bearing rate for in-migrants as for the existing population, an assumption which may be wrong, in view of the characteristics of the in-migrating population.

***This also would need to be corrected for survival before it could be added to the total population.

These types of computations should be made for each age-group in the potential child-bearing population, and for successive periods of time. For example, for the years 1955–59, the former 20–24 age-group will be the 25–29 age-group. Adjustments must be made for migration, and again the population must be "survived" — i.e., adjusting for the number of women who will be likely to die within the period.

If the number of past births related to the age of mother is not known, and if assumptions cannot be made as to the age-specific birth rates, it will be necessary to use the specific birth rate. This would mean that the number of births per 1,000 women age 15–49 would be calculated, adjusting for the number of women who will be expected to die and to in- or out-migrate. It is, of course, desirable to compute differential birth rates not only for different age-groups but also by other population characteristics such as income, race, religion, etc. The following table illustrates the difference in birth rates for native white and nonwhite women of different age-groups.

Table II

Birth Rates for Native White and Nonwhite Women in the United States, 1945*

Age Groups Native White Nonwhite
15 - 49 (Total) 76 100
15 - 19 43 131
20 - 24 133 179
25 - 29 135 134
30 - 34 100 94
35 - 39 56 70
40 - 44 16 20
45 - 49 1 3

*From Forecasts of the Population of the United States 1945-1975, U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1947.


1. Two other measurements of fertility are the gross reproduction rate and the net reproduction rate. The "gross reproduction rate" is a "two-generation" concept or a ratio of the number of girl babies that will be born a generation later to a population of new-born girls, assuming that age-specific birth rates remain unchanged, and assuming further that none of the present new-born girls die before they reach the end of their child-bearing period. The "net reproduction rate" is the "gross reproduction rate" corrected to account for the number of new-born girls who are expected to die before they bear girl children. Assumptions about the age-sex distribution of a theoretical population are inherent in these measurements. Therefore, it is difficult to use these measurements in the projection of an existing population with an age-sex distribution differing from the theoretical "standardized" one.

Selected Bibliography on Planning for School Capacities and Locations

AMERICAN SCHOOL BUILDINGS. Twenty-Seventh Yearbook of the American Association of School Administrators, a Department of the National Education Association of the United States, 1201 Sixteenth Street, N. W., Washington 6, D. C., 1949. 525pp. $4.00.

THE ANN ARBOR-YPSILANTI METROPOLITAN AREA PLAN. Washtenaw County Planning Commission, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1951. 52pp.

BROADENING THE SERVICES OF SMALL HIGH SCHOOLS. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1948. For sale by Superintendent of Documents, Catalogue No. FS 5.3:948/9. 20¢.

BUILDING FOR SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY NEEDS. Henry S. Churchill. The American School and University, 1948–49. pp. 95–98.


CINCINNATI'S PROGRAM FOR ACQUIRING SCHOOL SITES. John H. Herrick. The American School and University, 1947–48. pp. 76–79.

CITIZENS LOOK AT OUR SCHOOLHOUSES. Federal Security Agency, Office of Education, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1951. 21pp. 15¢.

COMMUNITY USE OF SCHOOLS. Marjorie Manning, Council of Social Agencies, Cincinnati. Public Management, January, 1949. pp. 11–13.

COMMUNITY USES OF PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITIES. Harold H. Punke, Kings Crown Press, Columbia University, New York, 1951, 243pp. $3.75.

CONTROLLING FACTORS IN THE ESTIMATION OF HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENTS. The American School Board Journal, November, 1951. pp. 30–32.

COOPERATIVE PLANNING IN THE SCHOOL BUILDING PROGRAM. William S. Briscoe, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Oakland, California, The American School and University, 1948–49. pp. 231–235.

THE FORTY -EIGHT STATE SCHOOL SYSTEMS. A Study of the Organization, Administration, and Financing of Public Elementary and Secondary Education. The Council of State Governments, Chicago, Illinois, 1949. 245pp.

A GUIDE FOR PLANNING SCHOOL BUILDINGS. Michigan State Department of Public Instruction. Bulletin Number 338. Published by Eugene B. Elliott, Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1945. 147pp.

GUIDE FOR PLANNING SCHOOL PLANTS. 1949 Edition. Published by the National Council on Schoolhouse Construction. 173pp. Copies are available from the Council's Secretary, W, D. McClurkin, Peabody College, Nashville, Tennessee. $1.25.

HOW THE SCHOOL BUILDING CAN BE PLANNED TO SERVE OTHER COMMUNITY NEEDS. A Report of the Committee on Modern School Building Needs. Public Education Association, 20 West 40th Street, New York 18, New York, June 18, 1951. 12pp. mimeo.

MINNESOTA MANUAL FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS. (Preliminary Edition 1947). State of Minnesota Department of Education, Division of Buildings and Business Administration, 301 State Office Building, St. Paul 1, Minnesota. 94pp. mimeo.

PHYSICAL CONDITION AND ANALYSIS OF CITY OF FLINT SCHOOL SYSTEM. City Planning Commission, Flint, Michigan. [1948.] 40pp. illus. mimeo.

PLANNING ADEQUATE SCHOOL FACILITIES AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF LARGE SCALE HOUSING PROJECTS. William H. Coleman, Chief Specialist on School Facilities, Federal Works Agency. The American School and University, 1945. pp. 35–39.

PLANNING THE NEIGHBORHOOD. American Public Health Association. Committee on the Hygiene of Housing. Public Administration Service, 1313 East Sixtieth Street, Chicago 37, Illinois, 1948. 90pp.

PLANNING SCHOOLS FOR TOMORROW – SOME CONSIDERATIONS IN EDUCATIONAL PLANNING FOR URBAN COMMUNITIES. Katherine M. Cook. U.S. Office of Education, Leaflet No. 66. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1943. 38pp.

THE PROBLEM OF THE RESTRICTED SCHOOL SITE. Clarence W. Hickok. The American School Board Journal, May, 1949. pp. 51–53, 80.

RELATION OF SCHOOL PLANT PLANNING TO COMMUNITY PLANNING. Frank Sohn. The American School and University, 1947–48. pp. 21–32.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SIZES OF SCHOOL SITES AND LAND COSTS. Samuel H. Barkan. The American School Board Journal, January, 1944. pp. 34–35.

THE RELATIONSHIP OF CITY PLANNING TO SCHOOL PLANT PLANNING. Russell A. Holy. Teachers College, Columbia University Contributions to Education, No. 662. Columbia University, New York, 1935. 135pp.

SCHOOL BUILDING SURVEY, ROSELLE, NEW JERSEY. Engelhardt, Engelhardt and Leggett, Educational Consultants. 59 Park Avenue, New York 16, New York. 108 pp.illus.

SCHOOL PLANT EVALUATION SCORE CARD AND MANUAL. Pennsylvania Economy League, Inc., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1949. 29pp.

SCHOOL PLANT PLANNING AS PART OF OVERALL COMMUNITY PLANNING IN CITIES OVER 100,000 POPULATION. Calvin Grieder. The American School and University, 1945. pp. 25–30.

SCHOOLS, Progressive Architecture Library, Lawrence B. Perkins and Walter D. Cocking. Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 330 West 42nd Street, New York, New York, 1949. 264 pp.illus. $10.00.

SIZE OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL UNITS. A Report of the Committee on Modern School Building Needs, Public Education Association, 20 West 40th Street, New York 18, New York, May 9, 1951. 7 pp. mimeo.

THE STANDARD SEATING CAPACITY OF GENERAL-PURPOSE CLASSROOMS. A. C. Lambert. The American School Board Journal, January, 1952. pp. 36–37, 90.

STANDARDS FOR THE EVALUATION OF SCHOOL BUILDINGS. T. C. Holy and W. E. Arnold. Bureau of Educational Research Monographs, Number 20. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 1936. 79pp.

STATE LAWS PERMITTING WIDER USE OF SCHOOL PROPERTY. Ward W. Keesecker. School Life, March, 1948. pp. 3–7, 24.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT YOUR SCHOOLS – An Approach to Long-Range Planning of School Buildings. William W. Caudill. A. & M. College of Texas, 1950. 43pp. illus.

WEDGWOOD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDY. City Planning Commission of Seattle, March 1, 1952. 15pp. mimeo.

Copyright, American Society of Planning Officials, 1952.