February 2015

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This polygon data layer depicts the boundaries of public school districts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 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 2, 2014, was obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE).

This layer contains boundaries for the following types of public school districts:

  • Local School - administered by a city or town school committee.
  • Regional Academic - administered by a regional school committee.
  • Regional Vocational Technical - administered by a regional vocational school committee.
  • Independent Vocational and County Agricultural - administered by a board of trustees.
  • Independent Public, including Commonwealth Charter Schools and Horace Mann Charter Schools

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).

This feature class is named SCHOOLDISTRICTS_POLY. With the February 2015 update it replaces three previous datasets that were split into elementary, middle and high school districts and only included the local school and regional academic districts.


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 ESE 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 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. The "non-op" town of Monroe has grade tuition agreements with the towns of Florida (PK-8) and North Adams (9-12) but also is a member of the Northern Berkshire Regional Vocational Technical school district; in this dataset the polygon for Monroe is therefore only included as part of the regional voc. tech. district to which it belongs.)

Selected attribute data in tabular format were obtained from ESE 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.


This data layer's polygon attribute table contains the following fields:
ORG_CODE Text/8 Unique identifier for each school district as defined by the state Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education. This field may be used to join to tables provided by ESE on its web site. These IDs contain only numbers but the field must be of type text since many of them begin with leading zeros.
DISTRICT Text/80 The full school district name

Type of school district. Values are:
  Charter - Commonwealth
  Charter - Horace Mann
  County Agricultural
  Independent Public
  Independent Vocational
  Local School
  Regional Academic
  Regional Vocational Technical

For more details see http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/help/data.aspx or the About Public School Districts link when searching the districts.

TOWN_REG Text/10 Indicates if a district is made up one city/town (TOWN) or multiple cities/towns (REGIONAL)
STARTGRADE Text/4 The lowest grade offered by the district
ENDGRADE Text/2 The highest grade offered by the district
Users may search the profiles of each public school district in Massachusetts at http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/search/search.aspx?leftNavId=11238. Additional information not included in this GIS layer may be found and downloaded from there.


MassGIS maintains this datalayer.

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

Last Updated 2/6/2015