Michigan School Siting Guidelines
A new report, “Michigan School Siting Guidelines: Taking the Environment into Account,” addresses the need for considering environmental factors when assessing and determining the location of public schools.
Drs. Paul Mohai (SEAS) and Byoung-Suk Kweon (University of Maryland) were the principle investigators on the report that was released on July 3, 2020.
In their report, the authors state:
“Michigan currently does not have a statewide approach to school siting that takes into account environmental quality. In 2011, the United States Environmental Protection Agency released national voluntary School Siting Guidelines, calling on states to develop and implement their own school siting and environmental cleanup standards. A number of states have done so, and, with support from the Kresge Foundation, the Michigan School Siting Task Force — a group of scholars, policy professionals, Michigan legislators, and members of non-governmental organizations and Michigan’s school communities — has worked to identify tools and best practices that could facilitate healthy school siting decisions in Michigan.”
The purpose of Mohai and Kweon's report was to explain the need for a school siting policy in Michigan, document the work of the School Siting Task Force, evaluate the resources available for developing a school siting policy, and provide recommendations for a school siting policy for the State of Michigan.Their report documents that their work is intended to stimulate policy debate and timely concrete action among Michigan legislators, policy advocates, and school communities. Its ultimate goal is to galvanize state lawmakers to develop a statewide school siting policy in Michigan that safeguards students’ health and well-being.
In 2017, a group of state Democratic lawmakers introduced a seven-bill package that called for the creation of a plan to annually test water and air quality in every Michigan school and to create an environmental education task force. Mohai spoke at the ensuing press conference, saying children cannot choose where they live or attend school, and they are especially vulnerable to environment toxins. “This makes it especially important they go to schools in clean, healthy and safe environments. In our research, we have found more than 40 percent of schools in Michigan are located near major sources of air pollution,” Mohai said.
Read the story in the 2017 Detroit News article.
A link to the full report, "Michigan School Siting Guidelines: Taking the Environment into Account" can be found on the Deep Blue website.
Learn more about the findings pertaining to environmental quality around Michigan Schools:
Mohai, Paul, Byoung-Suk Kweon, Sangyun Lee, and Kerry Ard. "Air pollution around schools is linked to poorer student health and academic performance." Health Affairs 30, no. 5 (2011): 852-862.
Kweon, Byoung-Suk, Paul Mohai, Sangyun Lee, and Amy M. Sametshaw. "Proximity of public schools to major highways and industrial facilities, and students’ school performance and health hazards." Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science 45, no. 2 (2018): 312-329.
Lower photo: Drs. Paul Mohai (SEAS) and Byoung-Suk Kweon (University of Maryland)