The overall purpose of the Census 2000 School District Demographics Project is to develop and provide access to detailed demographic data and related mapping data for each U.S. public school district. To facilitate access to and use of these data, the data are made available via Internet and on CD-ROM integrated with software, enabling users to access and use the data.
In 1994, Public Law 103-382, 20 USC 9003 was enacted by Congress. P.L. 103-382 specifies certain responsibilities for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) related to school district data. Section 404 of the Law provides that one of the Center's duties includes "collecting, analyzing, cross-tabulating, and reporting, to the extent feasible, so as to provide information by gender, race, socioeconomic, limited-English proficiency, other population characteristics when such disaggregated information would facilitate educational and policy decision-making". (To avoid possible double counts, read the section "Understanding Race and Ethnicity Variables")
Due to the need to identify school district boundary changes resulting from divisions, annexations, or consolidations of school districts which were mapped, and due to the need to include State schools, schools on American Indian reservations, and schools on military bases, a new inventory and mapping systems had to be created. The Census Bureau had developed a new mapping system, TIGER, which digitized and entered all boundaries in computer files.
The Census Bureau also surveys the fiscal operations of local government units, including Local Education Agencies (LEAs). In the Census of Governments School District Finances (F33) survey, LEAs are identified with the same codes as the school districts in the 1990 Census Mapping and Census 2000 School District projects permitting cross-tabulation and analyses of those data.