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MassGIS Data: Public School Districts

June 2019
These polygon data layers depict the boundaries of public school districts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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(Shapefile and ArcGIS 10.3 layer file)
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Sample map of Public School Districts

A school district is an administrative unit responsible for managing primary and secondary school services within a defined geographical boundary defined by one city or town or by multiple municipalities. District information, as of December 2018, was obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

A public school district consists of one or more public schools operated under the supervision of an elected or appointed school committee and a superintendent. The majority of school districts serve a single city or town, and are considered a department of the municipal government. Two or more municipalities can also join together to form a regional school district, which is considered a separate and independent unit of local government. A regional school district can offer all grades (PreK-12), just certain grades (for example, just elementary grades or just high school), or just certain types of instruction (for example, vocational and technical programs).

The June 2019 update from MassGIS divided the districts into two layers:
1) municipal and regional public school districts, and
2) charter, collaborative, superintendency union and vocational districts.

Municipal and regional districts

The municipal and regional districts layer includes the following district types:

  • Municipal Elementary - Elementary school district administered by a city or town school committee. Either is part of a regional secondary district, or tuitions students to other districts for secondary level education.
  • Municipal K-12 - All-grades school district administered by a city or town school committee. May include pre-kindergarten level.
  • Regional Elementary - Elementary school district comprising multiple cities/towns, administered by a regional school committee. Either is part of a regional secondary district, or tuitions students to other districts for secondary level education.
  • Regional Secondary - Secondary school district (starting in junior high or high school) comprising Municipal Elementary and Regional Elementary districts, administered by a regional school committee.
  • Regional K-12 All-grades school district administered by a regional school committee. May include pre-kindergarten level.
  • No Schools Four towns in western Massachusetts do not administer any of their own schools and have tuition agreements to send their students to neighboring school districts.

This feature class is named SCHOOLDISTRICTS_POLY.

"CCUV" districts

The charter, collaborative, superintendency union, and vocational (CCUV) districts layer includes the following district types:

  • Charter - Charter schools are independent public schools that operate under five-year charters granted by the Commonwealth's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). The increased freedom available to charter schools coupled with increased accountability, infuses all aspects of BESE's oversight of charter schools, beginning with the rigorous application process that groups must go through to receive a charter. Once BESE has awarded a charter, the new charter school has the freedom to organize around a core mission, curriculum, theme, or teaching method. It is allowed to control its own budget and hire (and fire) teachers and staff. In return for this freedom, a charter school must demonstrate good results within five years or risk losing its charter.
  • Collaborative - Educational Collaboratives are formed by local school committees and charter boards under the provisions of Chapter 40, Section 4E. The purpose of an educational collaborative is to supplement and strengthen the programs and services of member school committees and charter boards. All educational collaborative agreements and amendments must be approved by the member school committees and charter boards and BESE.
  • Superintendency Union - Superintendency unions (sometimes called "school unions") are cooperative arrangements between two or more school committees (typically in small towns) to share the services of a superintendent of schools and central office staff, while allowing each town to keep its own school committee and school buildings. The law authorizing school unions was enacted in 1870, predating the law authorizing regional school districts, which was enacted in 1949.
  • Regional Vocational Technical - Career/vocational technical education programs is the term used to denote Chapter 74-approved vocational technical education programs and non-Chapter 74 career and technical education programs. Administered by a regional vocational school committee.

This feature class is named SCHOOLDISTRICTS_CCUV_POLY.

Regional Town Labels

Polygons for the towns within regional districts are included in the download. They come from the Community Boundaries (Towns) layer. They can be used to outline and label the towns that comprise each regional district.

This feature class is named SCHOOLDISTRICTS_RglTownLabels.

Production

MassGIS created the geographic data in ArcGIS 10.3 software by selecting (and in some cases aggregating) polygons from the Community Boundaries (Towns) from Survey Points dataset. Communities that do not directly operate a school district are classified as non-operating and are not represented with individual polygons in this layer. The "non-op" towns belong to a regional school district (included in this layer) or pay tuition for their students to attend another school district.

Each regional district was created by "dissolving" municipal polygons. A community was included in a regional district if it is listed by DESE as a "member" of the regional district, meaning it participates in the governance and funding of the overall district. If the city/town is not a member of a regional school district at particular grade levels, it must enter into an agreement with another school district to educate the students in those grade spans at the city/town's expense. Such city/towns in a "Grade Tuition Agreement" with a regional district were not dissolved into the regional district polygon. (For example: The "non-op" towns of Monroe, Mount Washington, New Ashford and Tyringham have only grade tuition agreements with other towns or districts for all grades and are not part of any feature in the layer.)

Selected attribute data in tabular format were obtained from DESE and linked to the geographic features.

The nature of the single- and multiple-community districts results in extensive overlap between the different district types. For example, a city/town may operate its own local school district at some grades and belong to a regional district or tuition out its students at other grades, and at the same time it also may be a member of a regional vocational technical school district and/or a charter school district.

The 2019 update of this data recreated the school districts based on a Community Boundaries layer with a less detailed coastline.

Attributes

The municipal and regional districts data layer's attribute table contains the following fields:

ORG4CODE Text/4 Unique 4-character identifier for each school district as defined by DESE. This field may be used to join to tables provided by DESE on its website. These IDs contain only numbers but the field must be of type text since many of them begin with leading zeros.
ORG8CODE Text/8 Unique 8-character identifier for each school district as defined by DESE. This field may be used to join to tables provided by DESE on its website. These IDs contain only numbers but the field must be of type text since many of them begin with leading zeros. ORG8CODE is the same as ORG4CODE with the addition of four trailing zeros. Both fields are included as DESE data may use either field.
DISTRICT_NAME Text/255 The full school district name
DISTRICT_TYPE Text/15

Type of school district. Values are:
  MuniElem (Municipal Elementary)
  MuniK12 (Municipal All Grades)
  ReglElem (Regional Elementary)
  ReglHS (Regional Secondary)
  ReglK12 (Regional All Grades)
  TuitionK12 (Tuition All Grades/No Schools)

For more details see Profiles Help or the About Public School Districts link when searching the districts.

MEMBERLIST Text/255 Member towns in a regional school district
TUITION Text/1 Does the region have a tuition agreement to send students to other districts for any grades? (Yes/No)
TUITION_GRADES Text/10 Range of grades for which the district tuitions students
TUITION_TO Text/255 District(s) where the tuitioned students go
SUPERINTENDENCY_UNION Text/10 Union number for districts with a shared superintendent
START_GRADE Text/4 The lowest grade offered by the district
END_GRADE Text/2 The highest grade offered by the district

The CCUV districts data layer's attribute table contains the following fields:

TYPE Text/50

Type of school district. Values are:
  Charter
  Collaborative
  Superintendency Union
  Vocational

For more details see Profiles Help or the About Public School Districts link when searching the districts.

NAME Text/255 The full school district name
MEMBERS Text/1000 District's member towns
NICKNAME Text/50 District nickname
ORG8CODE Text/8 Unique 8-character identifier for each school district as defined by DESE. This field may be used to join to tables provided by DESE on its website. These IDs contain only numbers but the field must be of type text since many of them begin with leading zeros. ORG8CODE is the same as ORG4CODE with the addition of four trailing zeros. Both fields are included as DESE data may use either field.
SCH8CODE Text/8 Unique identifier for each charter school as defined by DESE. This field is populated only for charter districts and is different than ORG8CODE. These IDs contain only numbers but the field must be of type text since many of them begin with leading zeros.
ORG4CODE Text/4 Unique 4-character identifier for each school district as defined by DESE. This field may be used to join to tables provided by DESE on its website. These IDs contain only numbers but the field must be of type text since many of them begin with leading zeros.

The three code fields are not populated for the Superintendency Union districts.

Search the profiles of each public school district in Massachusetts at the Organization Search. Additional information not included in this GIS layer may be found and downloaded from there.

Maintenance

MassGIS maintains these datalayers and will update them based on regular updates from DESE.

Also see the Schools layer for point locations of PreK-12 schools in the commonwealth.


Last Updated 6/5/2019

Items

Contributor
Modified Date
2019-06-06
Release Date
2019-06-05
Identifier
7b0dbd23-8354-4e13-a178-30ad37161859
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Massachusetts
License
Author
MassGIS
Contact Name
MassGIS
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Public
Data Quality
False
Content Type
Language
English (United States)