california’s policy framework

The information in this section was pulled from a primer on joint use from the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and Joint Use School Partnerships in California: Strategies to Enhance Schools and Communities, a joint report from the Center for Cities and Schools and ChangeLab Solutions.

Policy can play a significant role in supporting (or hindering) joint use partnerships. Although many joint use agreements are arranged at the local level, California has enacted laws authorizing joint use of schools.

The California Education Code has many provisions that encourage or require joint use. In 1917, the California Legislature enacted the California Civic Center Act, which created a policy foundation for joint use schools. The Act establishes California’s public schools as civic centers that can be used for supervised recreational activities. When no other location is available, a school must grant access to community members and organizations promoting youth and school activities. California’s community colleges have similar requirements.

Further additions to California’s Education Code (CEC) have created a more concrete policy framework supporting joint use schools:

  • The After-School Education and Safety Program (Sections 8482-8484.6): Creates incentives for establishing locally driven before- and after-school enrichment programs both during schooldays and summer, intersession, or vacation days that partner public schools and communities to provide academic and literacy support and safe, constructive alternatives for youth.
  • Community Recreation Act (Sections 10900-10914.5): Provides adequate programs of community recreation; authorizes public corporations or districts, cities, counties and school districts to organize, promote, and conduct programs of community recreation; allows school grounds to be used free or for a fee; allows public authorities to cooperate to establish, improve or maintain recreation facilities.
  • Section 17050: Authorizes a district to enter into a contract with the county, or other appropriate entity having responsibility for the provision of public library services, in which the district is located for the purpose of operating a joint use library facility at a school site owned by the district.
  • Section 17051: Authorizes school districts to enter into an agreement with another governmental entity that includes some or all of the territory of the district for the purpose of the joint use of park and recreation facilities, including an auditorium, or commercial or industrial facilities.
  • Section 17052: Authorizes the State Allocation Board to fund joint use projects to construct libraries, multipurpose rooms, and gymnasiums on school campuses where these facilities are used jointly for both school and community purposes.
  • Section 17060: Authorizes a school district to enter into joint venture relationships that result in school facilities construction.
  • Section 17077.40: Authorizes school boards to provide grants to fund joint use projects to construct facilities on K-12, inclusive, school sites; authorizes school districts to apply to the board for funding for joint use projects that are part of an application for new construction or reconfiguration of existing facilities that will result in a multipurpose room, gymnasium, child care facility, library, or teacher education facility.
  • Section 17110: Authorizes the governing board of a school district to issue for sale revenue bonds to finance the construction of joint occupancy facilities.
  • Section 17515: Authorizes any school district to enter into leases and agreements relating to real property and buildings to be used jointly by the district and any private person, firm or corporation pursuant to this article.
  • Section 17527: Authorizes the governing board of any school district to enter into agreements to make vacant classrooms and other space in operating schools available for rent or lease to other school districts, educational agencies, except private educational institutions.


For more information on joint use policy in California, contact Martin Martinez, Policy Director
, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network at 510-832-1175
 or mmartinez@cpehn.org.

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