The concept of land trusts and real estate trusts has been used by cities for centuries for health care, affordable housing, open space, and higher education. The K-12 education community can learn from other social sectors about how to plan, identify, finance, and preserve options for buildings.
Pathway 2 Tomorrow published the Center on Reinventing Public Education’s (CRPE) report, A More Enterprising Approach: How Public Trusts Can Help Address School Facility Challenges, that highlights ways cities can manage school properties through a citywide real estate trust. These trusts can be independent agencies or non-profits that manage a city’s educational facilities tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that community schools can afford to stay in the communities they serve; that these schools can focus on serving the young people in communities.
The paper builds upon two other reports which show how school buildings can be built, financed, and managed so that both schools and communities thrive. The research team at Public Impact, in their paper, Charter School Facility Incubators—An Innovative Approach to Charter School Facilities, looked at one non-profit in Washington, DC that acts as an incubator to help start new schools that would not be able to secure their own building. This entrepreneurial model is borrowed from the technology sector where so many tech start-ups begin instead of the garages of the 80’s or working out of a successful tech company that itself was a start-up a few years earlier. Several schools have successfully started and are serving young people in their community through this innovative program.
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, in their paper, Community Land Trusts and Charter Schools, looked at how Community Land Trusts can support individual schools like how they have ensured affordable housing for decades. These entities are managed by the community and the community can decide who should use the property—whether that is housing, health and wellness, education, or other critical hallmark of communities.