The Georgia Bikes Blog

School District Consolidation

Interesting new report: "Consolidation of Schools and Districts: What the Research Says and What it Means" by Craig Howley, Jerry Johnson, and Jennifer Petrie
http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/PB-Consol-Howley-Johnson-Petrie.pdf

This report deals specifically withy state policy around the consolidation of school districts - thanks to Healthy Schools Campaign for finding.

Excerpt

"The influence of school and district consolidations on the vitality and well-being of communities may be the most dramatic result, if the one least often discussed by politicians or education leaders. Put simply, the loss of a school erodes a community’s social and economic base—its sense of community, identity and democracy—and the loss permanently diminishes the community itself, sometimes to the verge of abandonment."

Finding transportation projects in your area

Lookee here...we've just discovered an excellent resource from our friends at GDOT: TransPI is a program that allows you to search for all GDOT-managed transportation projects!

On the search builder, use the keyword "bike," and then choose your other criteria to narrow the search.

transPI logo

National Bike Summit

In case you haven't been keeping up with our Twitter posts (http://twitter.com/GABikes), last week your entrepid author joined fifteen fellow Georgians for his first National Bike Summit in Washington, DC.

 This year was the 10th NBS, featuring the elegant slogan "Acting on a simple solution."imag0095

 The National Bike Summit is essentially a two and a half day event, with the first day dedicated to a series of panel discussions  and presentations on a wide range of issues related to bicycle advocacy, transportation policy, and best practices in both.

 Day two is the nitty gritty day of Congressional lobbying, where delegates from Georgia attended back-to-back meetings with Georgia's Congressional representatives and both Senators.

 In these meetings, led by constituents whenever possible, we discussed the economic and public health benefits of investment in bicycle and pedestrian faciltiies for Georgia's communities. Specifically, we asked that funding for Transportation Enahancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trail Programs not be cut when Congress considers a new transportation funding bill. These three programs represent the bulk of federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects in many communities, and any reduction in these programs would significantly reduce Georgia's capacity to build the safe, comfortable, and convenient network of bike/ped faciltiies that we need to:
reduce obesity, improve quality of life, ease congestion, encourage tourism & business siting in Georgia, and increase residential property values.

 It was a great experience, and I strongly encourage any bicycle advocate, and especially bicycle retailers and manufacturers, to attend next year's Summit if possible.

Additional photos from the 2011 NBS here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=400294495663&aid=334136

Removing Barriers to Community-Centered Schools

A great summary of the issues addressed by our program in the preface to Helping Johnny Walk to School: Policy Recommendations for Removing Barriers to Community-Centered Schools:

In addition to providing a place to educate our children, schools are also important anchors that help define and sustain our neighborhoods. Recognizing this fact, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has long urged citizens across the country to retain existing schools or construct new ones where they can function as true community centers.

In 2000 the National Trust published Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School: Historic Neighborhood Schools in the Age of Sprawl and included older and historic neighborhood schools on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Since then, awareness about the health, transportation, and sustainability ramifications of school siting choices has grown significantly. In 2009 for example, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted that “factors such as school location have played a significant role in the decreased rates of walking to school, and changes in policy may help to increase the number of children who are able to walk to school.”

But despite this growing awareness of the benefits of community-centered schools, far too many existing schools continue to be threatened with abandonment, and new schools continue to be built far from the residents they serve. According to the most recent National Household Travel survey, only about 35 percent of K-8 students now live within two miles of their school.

As part of our Helping Johnny Walk to School: Sustaining Communities through Smart Policy project, we asked some of the brightest minds in their fields the following question: “What policies and practices are preventing the retention or development of community-centered schools?” We then asked them to offer suggestions for state reform. Their recom-
mendations provide the basis for this report.

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