Public Schools and Communities Division

About the Public Schools and Communities Division


Welcome to the Public Schools and Communities Division! Not since the civil rights era have our public schools and K-12 education faced so many challenges. If you are interested in and concerned about K-12 public education, our public schools, and their impacts on neighborhoods and communities, then please join our Division! We promote communication and professional learning opportunities that address the many intersections of school planning and planning for great communities.


To create stronger linkages between the planning profession and public school districts to support and strengthen public education, and public schools, create stronger neighborhoods, and communities, and increase opportunities for our youth and their families.

To integrate public schools and the provision of public education into community planning more holistically to ensure land use, housing, transportation, and other planning policies, regulations and services minimize inequities and maximize resources and opportunities within our schools and communities.

Focus Areas and goals

Planners' Role in Education Outcomes

  1. To advocate for public schools within the planning profession
  2. To increase understanding of the Planner's Role in Student Education Outcomes
  3. To encourage post secondary urban planning education programs to incorporate public school planning into their curriculum
  4. To develop partnerships and coalitions that further the mission of the PSED
  5. To ensure understanding and communication of the term "school choice," its implications on traditional public schools, public education and equity, its options for families and students and availability of other services

Collaboration and Governance

  1. To increase collaboration between local governments and school districts
  2. To create model zoning and land development regulatory processes to deal with school siting, site plan review, off-site impacts, and other conflicts between school districts and local governments
  3. To create a best practices manual that offers methods and programs by which school districts, schools, and local governments can collaborate
  4. To increase awareness of school choice and its implications on enrollments, programs and services, and equity in public education

Comprehensive Plan Education Element

  1. To provide strategies to ensure public education needs are addressed in community planning efforts
  2. To create a prototype Education Element for a community comprehensive plan that addresses PK-12 education needs and the integral relationship of public education and schools on community and economic goals

School Funding

  1. To eliminate inequities in school funding formulas
  2. To advocate for adequate state and local school funding
  3. To reform rules associated with categorical funding to ensure positive student outcomes

Schools and Neighborhoods

  1. To address impacts of school closures and new schools
  2. To include schools and school community members in neighborhood planning efforts
  3. To support development and construction of diverse housing types and values in all school attendance zones
  4. To support development of community schools
  5. To ensure safe neighborhoods and adequate services surrounding schools and in communities
  6. To develop safe and multiple modes of travel to and from schools
  7. To address inequities and dissimilarities between neighborhoods and to avoid reinforcing patterns of segregation and advancing pathways to desegregation and integration

School Facility Planning

  1. To address school facility needs
  2. To address school facility planning, siting and design processes
  3. To ensure safe and healthy environments inside and outside of school buildings
  4. To support strategies for joint use of public facilities including schools
  5. To support strategies for adaptive reuse of no longer used school facilities



Join as a Non APA Member

Not an APA member? Let your APA membership lapse? No problem.... Join our Division as an APA affiliate member or student member!

The American Planning Association (APA) understands that not everyone can commit to paying for a full APA membership. Therefore APA welcomes anyone with a passion or interest in planning to sign up for a non-member APA account. This inclusive approach creates a low barrier entry point that welcomes a diversity of professional perspectives vital to building better communities. As an affiliate APA member you can still join and participate in any of the Planning Divisions but do not need to pay for a full APA membership! You can simply sign up for a non-member APA number. Or if you let your APA membership lapse you can still use your existing APA member to sign up for the Division only!

To join the Public Schools and Communities Division of APA as a non-member of APA just click on the link below and sign up to receive your non-member APA number. Once you have your APA number you can join the Public Schools and Communities Division of APA for only $40.

Create a Non-Member Account

To join the Public Schools and Communities Division of APA as a student-member of APA just click on the link below and sign up to receive your student-member APA number. Once you have your APA number you can join the Public Schools and Communities Division of APA for free.

Join APA as a Student Member

Steering Commitee

Saralee Morrissey, FAICP | Chair

Adam Lubinsky, AICP | Vice Chair

Chris Gralapp, AICP | Treasurer

Candace H. Stowell, AICP | Secretary

Shannon Jaax, AICP | Programming Chair

Amber Dickerson, AICP | Communications Chair

Carrie Makarewicz, PhD| Reports Chair

Libbie Adams Glick, AICP | Membership Chair

Hodgin Serrullo | Student Representative

Jamie Bridges, AICP

Kevin Shipman, AICP

Rachel Hertzman, AICP

John Valdez, AICP

Mathew Palmer

If you have any questions or would like to get involved contact us at