Joint Use of Public Schools: A Framework for a New Social Contract

In this paper, the 21st Century School Fund and the Center for Cities and Schools at the University of California Berkeley provide a conceptual frame for the joint use of PK-12 public schools. 

There is a growing conversation about and demand for joint use as a way to provide services to children and families in convenient locations, improve opportunities for physical activity by increasing use of school recreational and outdoor spaces, leverage capital investments, and more. However, engaging in joint use, particularly intensive sharing of space or use by multiple parties, presents ongoing challenges to school and community leaders. In this paper, we frame the basic challenges and opportunities for joint use to facilitate better conversations and planning for these type of collaborations. This conceptual paper serves as a companion to a set of tools for practitioners and policymakers for implementing and sustaining joint use and joint development of public school facilities. Other tools available from the 21st Century School Fund and the Center for Cities and Schools on joint use and development include:
• Examples of joint development and joint use;
• Catalogue and analysis of state policies and model school district and state level policies to support joint use and development (See:;
• A “joint use calculator” tool for computing the real costs associated with the use of school facilities; and
• A database template for including community use data and information in a facility information management system.

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