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Free Publications from the School Facilities and Transportation Services Division

Schools of the Future Report (PDF)
This report focuses on two key policy areas: state school facility program reform and the design of high performance, green schools and provides policy recommendations.

Re-Visioning School Facility Planning and Design for the 21st Century, Creating Optimal Learning Environments (PDF)
The California Department of Education convened a roundtable on October 15-16, 2008 to identify best practices that will strengthen the relationship between schools and communities in an effort to close the achievement gap between segments of our students. This report is a summary and analysis of the roundtable proceedings and will serve as a guiding document for the California Department of Education's ongoing work in improving school facility design policy in California.

Healthy Children Ready to Learn: Facilities Best Practices (PDF)
This publication brings together practical and successful ideas and solutions that schools throughout the state are implementing to support the goal of healthy children. Healthy Children Ready to Learn: Facilities Best Practices is a shining example of the collective effort required in the battle against childhood obesity, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise in our society.

Design-Build Projects Guidelines, 2002 (PDF)
This guideline provides information to school districts about the design-build process authorized under Assembly Bill (AB) 1402 and ways to comply with the law. AB 1402 authorized school districts in California to use design-build as a delivery method for projects with design and construction costs exceeding $10 million.

Guide to School Site Analysis and Development (PDF)
Accessible version of Guide to School Site Analysis and Development
This document updates site size standards to reflect changes in education, such as class size reduction, implementation of Title IX gender equity, technology, and parental and community involvement. This 2000 edition replaces the 1966/1987 edition. The 1966/1987 edition is retained only to comply with Government Code Section 65995.5(h), which requires the 1966/1987 edition to be used in the calculation of developer fees.

School Site Selection and Approval Guide, 2000
This document assists school districts in selecting sites that provide a safe and supportive environment for the instructional program and the learning process. It outlines the selection criteria for gaining California Department of Education approval, a condition for receiving state funds.

Educational Specifications: Linking Design of School Facilities to Educational Program (PDF)
Accessible version of Educational Specifications: Linking Design of School Facilities to Educational Program
This document is designed to help school districts develop specifications based on a fundamental principle of modern architecture; that is, form follows function. The document includes a definition of specifications, suggested procedures, and a model format.

Indoor Air Quality, A Guide for Educators, 1995

A brief description of school facility concerns about indoor air quality. It is a simplified discussion of problems that can affect the health of both staff and students and includes a list of management procedures that can be used to help mitigate problems of unclean air.

School Site Analysis and Development, 1966/1987

This document is to be used only to determine developer fees pursuant to Government Code Section 65995.5(h). See statement above under School Site Analysis and Development Guide, 2000.

Guide for the Development of a Long-Range Facilities Plan, 1986

A guide to assist school districts in the development of a comprehensive facilities master plan. The guide includes sections on the educational program, how to evaluate the utilization and condition of existing facilities, how to conduct a demographic study, and how to implement and evaluate the master plan.

This guide was last updated in 1986. Since that time, numerous advances in technology have expanded greatly the ability of districts to identify and electronically map demographic trends, monitor specific facility needs, and present high quality graphic information to decision makers and interested stakeholders. However, the basic outline presented in the document, which addresses education needs, existing facilities, the demographic study, the implementation plan, and the evaluation/updating, is still useful for districts to follow in both planning new schools and evaluating the closure of schools.

California Department of Education Press Publications

The Form of Reform: School Facility Design Implications for California Educational Reform, 1997

This second publication in the series identifies the design implications of concepts in educational reform. This publication has abundant illustrations of schools that received design awards as wells as floor plans of new schools.

(120pp.) Item No. 1355 - $18.50

Educational Specifications: Linking Design of school Facilities to Educational Programs, 1997

This first publication in the series is designed to help school districts develop specifications based on a fundamental principle of modern architecture; that is, form follows function. The document includes a definition of specifications, suggested procedures, and a model format.

(120pp.) Item No. 1352 - $18.50

Schools for the Twenty-first Century, 1990

A strengthened academic program depends on school buildings that enhance rather than impede the delivery of educational programs. When student populations are exploding, the task of keeping the facilities on a par with the academic program is made doubly difficult. Schools for the Twenty-first Century addresses some of the questions that must be asked in school districts as they consider constructing new buildings or remodeling existing ones. It does not prescribe rules or guidelines but raises issues and provides alternatives for consideration. Ten school or classroom plans are provided.

(46pp.) Item No. 0911 - $5.25

Science Facilities Design of California Public Schools, 1993

This publication shows how science programs are enhanced through the architectural design of science facilities. Architectural requirements and regulations, steps in the planning process, and costs are discussed. Illustrations of science complexes, laboratory seating arrangements, and classroom materials also appear.

Item No. 1038 - $8.25

California's Blueprint for Environmental Literacy, 2015

The report of Superintendent Torlakson's Environmental Literacy Task Force, A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy: Educating Every Student In, About, and For the Environment, was released on September 15, 2015. Included are recommendations on learning environments [see recommendations 6(n.) and 6(q.) in particular].

Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools, 2014 (PDF)
This publication has been prepared to help science teachers, administrators, and other school staff members understand and avoid situation in which accidents might occur in the science laboratories or on field trips and outdoor education experiences. Because students understand science more fully when they participate in laboratory activities, this handbook advocates hands-on science experiences and offers guidance for ensuring student safety in chemistry, physics, biology, and general laboratory procedures. It is designed to help teachers and administrators understand and avoid situations in which accidents could occur. Sample consent forms, safety checklists, and legal citations are included.

Publications from Other Sources

California's K-12 Educational Infrastructure Investments: Leveraging the State's Role for Quality School Facilities in Sustainable Communities External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A policy research report, prepared by the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Cities & Schools, that provides an analysis of K-12 infrastructure policies, regulations, and funding patterns in California. Findings reveal the need to refine school facilities planning and funding policies and practices to promote sound, efficient, and goal-oriented decision making at state and local levels. The recommendations re-envision the state's role in K-12 infrastructure as one of appropriately supporting educational outcomes and contributing to more sustainable communities through a framework of public infrastructure best practices for sound planning, effective management, adequate and equitable funding, and appropriate oversight. The recommendations lay out a vision, policy framework, and implementation plan to equitably and efficiently improve learning environments for California's six million students.

Architecture for Education: New School Designs from the Chicago Competition

Looking to develop innovative school designs, Chicago Public Schools joined forces with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, and Leadership for Quality Education to host the Chicago Public Schools Design Competition.

Centered on design for universal access and the small schools educational philosophy, the competition process generated extensive learning on educational and design innovation. The book, Architecture for Education: New School Designs from the Chicago Competition External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), shares the best of the designs, explains the research and policies behind the competition's design criteria, documents the architectural history of Chicago's schools, and describes practical strategies for engaging local communities in the school design process.

Non-structural Earthquake Hazards in California Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This publication identifies potential earthquake hazards associated with non-structural components of school buildings, and provides recommendations for mitigating those hazards. Non-structural components include furnishings and equipment, electrical and mechanical fixtures, and architectural features such as suspended ceilings, partitions, cabinets and shelves. In general, non-structural components and building contents become hazards when they slide, break, fall, or tip over during an earthquake. Securing the non-structural components and building contents improves safety and security of the school facility during an earthquake emergency by:

  • Reducing the potential for fatalities and injuries.
  • Helping to maintain safe and clear exit ways for evacuation and to access the building.
  • Reducing the potential for chemical spills, fires, and gas leaks.
  • Improving the probability of using the school facility as a shelter following an earthquake.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Smart School Siting Tool External link opens in new window or tab. to help communities make school siting decisions in a more coordinated and comprehensive way. Communities can use the tool to align school site selection with planning policies and capital investments, understand how well school siting and other community planning processes are coordinated, and compare school siting alternatives. The tool includes a user guide, which provides background on the links between school siting and community impacts and describes how to use the tool, and two Excel workbooks that users can download and fill out.

School Siting Guidelines External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) that encourage, inform, and improve consideration of environmental factors in local school siting decision-making processes without infringing on local decision-making authority. These guidelines can help local school districts, local educational agencies, and community members evaluate environmental factors to make the best possible school siting decisions.

Sensible Guide to Healthier School Renovations External link opens in new window or tab. that will help schools around the country keep school environments healthy while cleaning up contaminants such as asbestos, mold, mercury, lead, and radon that are associated with renovations. This booklet provides school administrators, facility managers, staff, and the school community with an overview of how to avoid key environmental health hazards and ways to minimize children's exposures as they prepare for and undergo renovations.

Questions:   School Facilities & Transportation Services Division | | 916-322-2470
Last Reviewed: Friday, July 14, 2023