Many countries have adopted school reforms that give parents an extended opportunity to choose schools for their children. State schools are expected to compete. This gives rise to questions of how to organise and site state schools. In addition, many local and central governments have adopted poli- cies of compact and mixed-use urban development. The aim of this paper is to examine how local governments adapt school planning and the siting of schools to the school reforms, in combination with urban development policies. The paper is based on examination of strategic documents and semi- structured interviews with 17 strategic officials in five fast growing municipalities in Sweden. The result shows that local governments are adapting to school choice by planning for much larger schools in combination with compact urban development. A location criterion for schools for children aged 13–15 is in attractive, central parts of cities. The official location criterion for schools for children aged 6–12 is in proximity to the local need and in consideration of younger children’s limited reach. However, densification developments lead to difficulties in siting schools where they are needed. Areas in the periphery and sometimes socially deprived neighbourhoods are avoided. Moreover, plan- ners use subjective assessments of closeness, while objective proximity measurements are outdated. Proximity to a public park is a new location criterion complementing small school yards. The con- clusion is that local governments adapt to school reforms and to compact development policies with consequences for the size and location pattern of schools. Expectations are that travel distances to schools will increase. Whereas central districts may gain from an increasing supply of schools for children aged 13–15, peripheral districts may experience a declining supply. School children are expected to be more frequent users of public parks. The implication for local governments is that school planning needs to be better integrated with strategic urban planning.
community school, compact city, distance to school, school choice, school competition, school location, school planning, school siting, school size, Sweden.
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