Schools at the heart of communities

Schools are changing - from footprints and heating systems to landscapes and siting decisions.

  • Schools cycle back into the heart of the neighborhood - Communities began to move away from the concept of a small neighborhood-centered school that kids could walk to in the 1970's but some school boards and communities are pushing back.
  • Boards and Planning - Nine principles boards should consider in the process of planning a new school or an older school’s renovation.
  • International Walk-or-Bike-to-School Day - Held in October each year, get some starter ideas for your own International Walk-or-Bike-to-School Day.
  • What does sustainability mean for schools? - Sustainability means to act in a manner that exhibits awareness of how all things are connected and make well-considered choices for the greater good of all. Here are some considerations for school boards to ponder when exploring this territory.
  • The Sustainable Oregon Schools Initiative - Learn more about sustainability through this initiative being created now with input from interested stakeholders and guidance from a steering committee that includes OSBA representatives. 
  • Building Commissioning - Learn more about the process of ensuring that systems are designed, installed, functionally tested, and capable of being operated and maintained to perform in conformity with the design intent. 
  • Grant possibilities - Learn more about ODOT's Pedestrian and Bicycle Grant Program providing about $5 million every two years that may go to Oregon cities and counties for design and construction of pedestrian and bicycle facilities within public rights-of-way.

Highlighting successes


Business Tax Credits - New high-performance schools that go for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification with the Oregon Department of Energy can qualify for a Business Energy Tax Credit. Part of the LEED certification requires such schools to be “bike and pedestrian friendly.” 

Creating Connections: The CEFPI Guide For Educational Facility Planning

Healthy Kids Learn Better Partnership

Iwalk, the International Walk to School Committee - Promoting October as Walk to School Month.

Oregon Transportation & Growth Management Program - TGM planning grants can support safe-routes-to-school initiatives and TGM’s outreach and quick-response services can help school districts address school siting issues. TGM maintains a “Walkable Schools” section on its Web site, which links to many resources on school design and transportation topics, including the Oregon Handbook on School Siting.

Portland’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Safe Routes to School across Oregon - The Safe Routes to School grant program is administered by ODOT. For more information, visit

Walk-to-School Day - Maintained by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, this site allows participating schools to register and keep up with what other schools around the country are doing. It also supplies ideas for observing Walk-to-School Day.

Census primer for school boards

Community engagement resources

Tangible triumphs: Increase support for schools by changing your message