Accessing Minnesota School Administrators’ Knowledge and Perceptions Related to Sharing School Play Spaces after the Passage of Minnesota Shared Use Legislation


Lower levels of physical activity among children in the United States can be attributed in part to the lack of access to safe, low-cost recreational facilities. Shared use, or a partnership allowing the community to use school recreational facilities outside of normal hours, has received increased attention. Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the extent of knowledge among school decision makers about a law passed clarifying liability for school shared use in Minnesota and to understand perceptions held by school decision makers regarding shared use of recreational facilities. Design, Setting, and Participants: A survey of Minnesota school superintendents and other decision makers (N = 182) was conducted to understand the issues relevant to sharing school recreational facilities with the public. Results: The majority (90%) of respondents indicated concern about liability for injury on school property outside of normal hours, and that insurance and contracts provided the most protection from liability. Most respondents indicated they were not familiar with the Minnesota shared use legislation and its provisions (61.36%, n = 108). Conclusions: Findings suggest the importance of education and training to further school superintendents’ knowledge of Minnesota shared use legislation, legal and policy issues relevant to shared use, and issues related to the implementation of shared use within their Districts.



Baker, T., & Masud, H. (2010). Liability risks for after-hours use of public school property to reduce obesity: A 50-state survey. Journal of School Health, 80(10), 508–513.

Bloemen, M. A., Backx, F. J., Takken, T., Wittink, H., Benner, J., Mollema, J., & de Groot, J. F. (2015). Factors associated with physical activity in children and adolescents with a physical disability: A systematic review. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 57(2), 137–148.

Burbage, L., Gonzalez, E., Dunning, L., Simon, P., & Kuo, T. (2014). Building mutually beneficial partnerships to improve physical activity opportunities through shared-use efforts in under-resourced communities in Los Angeles County. Preventive Medicine, 67(Suppl 1), S4–9.

ChangeLab Solutions. (2012). Opening school grounds to the community after hours: A toolkit for increasing physical activity through joint use agreements. CLS_20120530)_2010.01.28.pdf

Cutts, B. B., Darby, K. J., Boone, C. G., & Brewis, A. (2009). City structure, obesity, and environmental justice: An integrated analysis of physical and social barriers to walkable streets and park access. Social Science Medicine, 69(9), 1314–1322.

Durant, N., Harris, S. K., Doyle, S., Person, S., Saelens, B. E., Kerr, J., Norman, G. J., & Sallis, J. F. (2009). Relation of school environment and policy to adolescent physical activity. Journal of School Health, 79(4), 153–159.

Evenson, K. R., & McGinn, A. P. (2004). Availability of school physical activity facilities to the public in four U.S. communities. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18(3), 243–250.

Evenson, K. R., Wen, F., Lee, S. M., Heinrich, K. M., & Eyler, A. (2010). National study of changes in community access to school physical activity facilities: The school health policies and programs study. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 7(Suppl 1), S20–30.

Eyler, A. A., & Swaller, E. M. (2012). An analysis of community use policies in Missouri school districts. Journal of School Health, 82(4), 175–179.

Farley, T. A., Meriwether, R. A., Baker, E. T., Watkins, L. T., Johnson, C. C., & Webber, L. S. (2007). Safe play spaces to promote physical activity in inner-city children: Results from a pilot study of an environmental intervention. American Journal of Public Health, 97(9), 1625–1631.

Howard, K., Bocarro, J. N., & Kanters, M. A. (2013). Strategies for creating successful joint use agreements: A case study. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 31(1), 98–107.

Kanters, M. A., Bocarro, J. N., Filardo, M., Edwards, M. B., McKenzie, T. L., & Floyd, M. F. (2014). Shared use of school facilities with community organizations and afterschool physical activity program participation: A cost-benefit assessment. Journal of School Health, 84(5), 302–309.

Kirchner, C. E., Gerber, E. G., & Smith, B. C. (2008). Designed to deter: Community barriers to physical activity for people with visual or motor impairments. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 34(4), 349–352.

Omura, J. D., Carlson, S. A., Paul, P., Sliwa, S., Onufrak, S. J., & Fulton, J. E. (2017). Shared use agreements between municipalities and public schools in the United States. Preventive Medicine, 95(Suppl.), S53–S59.

Powell, L. M., Slater, S., Chaloupka, F. J., & Harper, D. (2006). Availability of physical activity-related facilities and neighborhood demographic and socioeconomic characteristics: A national study. American Journal of Public Health, 96(9), 1676–1680.

Spengler J. O., Connaughton, D. P., & Maddock, J. E. (2011). Liability concerns and access to school recreational facilities in underserved communities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 41(4), 415–420.

Spengler, J. O., Frost, N. F., & Bryant, K. (2014). Integrating research, legal technical assistance and advocacy to inform shared use legislation in Mississippi. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(Suppl 3), S100–S103.

Spengler, J. O., Ko, Y. J, & Connaughton, D. P. (2012). Scale development: Perceived barriers to public use of school recreational facilities. American Journal of Health Behavior, 36(3), 311–318.

Timperio, A., Salmon, J., Telford, A., & Crawford, D. (2005). Perceptions of local neighbourhood environments and their relationship to childhood overweight and obesity. International Journal of Obesity, 29(2), 170–175.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019). National Youth Sports Strategy. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: 2nd Edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Warburton, D. E., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: The evidence. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 174(6), 801–809.

Winig, B., Spengler, J. O. , & Etow, A. M. (2015). Shared use and safe routes to school: Managing the fear of liability. Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, 43(Suppl 1), 36–39.

Wolch, J. R., Byrne J., & Newell, J. P. (2014). Urban green space, public health, and environmental justice: The challenge of making cities “just green enough.” Landscape and Urban Planning, 125, 234–244.

Wolch, J. R., Jerrett, M., Reynolds, K., McConnell, R., Chang, R., Dahmann, N., Brady, K., Gilliland, F, Su, J. G., & Berhane, K. (2011). Childhood obesity and proximity to urban parks and recreational resources: A longitudinal cohort study. Health and Place, 17(1), 207–214.

Young, D. R., Spengler, J. O., Frost, N. F., Evenson, K. R., Vincent, J. P., & Whitsel, L. (2014). Promoting physical activity through the shared use of school recreational spaces: A policy statement from the American Heart Association. American Journal of Public Health, 104(9), 1583–1588.

Ziglio E. (1996). The Delphi method and its contribution to decision-making. In M. Adler & E. Ziglio (Eds.), Gazing into the Oracle (pp. 3–33). Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2020 Array