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School District Boundaries

School Districts are geographic entities and single purpose governmental units that operate schools and provide public educational services at the local level. The Census Bureau collects school district boundaries to develop annual estimates of children in poverty to help the U.S. Department of Education determine the annual allocation of Title I funding to states and school districts. NCES also uses the school district boundaries to develop a broad collection of district-level demographic estimates from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The Census Bureau updates school district boundaries, names, local education agency codes, grade ranges, and school district levels biennially based on information provided by state education officials.

Data

Census Geography Year School Year Represented Layers by District Type Single Composite File ACS Period
20172015-2016 (159 MB) (196 MB)2013-2017
20162015-2016 (161 MB) (159 MB)2012-2016
20152013-2014 (140 MB) (138 MB)2011-2015
20142013-2014 (145 MB) (143 MB)2010-2014
20132011-2012 (145 MB) (143 MB)2009-2013
20122011-2012 (141 MB) (138 MB)2008-2012
20112009-2010 (141 MB) (137 MB)2007-2011
20102009-2010 (142 MB) (138 MB)2006-2010
20092007-2008 (139 MB) (138 MB)2005-2009
20082007-2008 (138 MB) (139 MB)
20072005-2006 (102 MB) (103 MB)
20062005-2006 (83 MB) (81 MB)
20052003-2004 (72 MB) (72 MB)
20042003-2004 (76 MB) (76 MB)
20032001-2002 (58 MB) (58 MB)
20022001-2002 (56 MB) (56 MB)
2001N/AN/AN/A
20001999-2000 (141 MB) (140 MB)
19991999-2000 (54 MB) (54 MB)
19981997-1998 (54 MB) (54 MB)
19971995-1996 (54 MB) (55 MB)
19951989-1990 (56 MB) (56 MB)

Coverage

The U.S. has more than 13,000 geographically defined public school districts. These include districts that are administratively and fiscally independent of any other government, as well as public school systems that lack sufficient autonomy to be counted as separate governments and are classified as a dependent agency of some other government—a county, municipal, township, or state. Most public school systems are Unified districts that operate regular, special, and/or vocational programs for children in Prekindergarten through 12th grade.

The Census Bureau’s school district universe is a subset of the larger NCES CCD Local Education Agency (LEA) universe. The Census collection is limited to regular districts that are geographically defined, and it excludes “non-operating” districts and “educational service agencies” that are part of the CCD LEA universe. These districts primarily exist to collect and transfer tax revenue to other school systems that actually provide the education services, or to provide regional special education services, vocational education programs, or financial services for member districts.

Additional Resources

School District Boundary Change Files

Changes in school district geographies or grade extent, school years 2007-08 to 2015-16. This product has two purposes: 1)  to indicate when there have been changes to the borders or grade-span of a school district which might affect the comparability of estimates over time, and 2) to provide a crosswalk that allows users to create trends for new or closed districts by combining data.

School District Boundary Changes Files (190 KB)

School District Governments

The U.S. Census Bureau regularly updates and reports information about special purpose governments in each state as part of the quinquennial Census of Governments. This lesser-known census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau collects information about government organization, public employment, and government finances, and it provides an exhaustive collection and description of the governmental entities in each state. This document (755 KB) compiles the state-level school district descriptions from the 2012 Census of Governments: Individual State Descriptions into a single condensed source for convenient reference.