November 2015

Download this layer
Zipped Shapefile and ArcGIS 9 LYR
View this datalayer in an online map


This point datalayer shows the locations of schools in Massachusetts. Schools appearing in this layer are those attended by students in pre-kindergarten through high school, based on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) school profiles database as of October 20, 2015. Categories of schools include public, private, charter, and approved and unapproved special education.

The layer is stored in ArcSDE and distributed as SCHOOLS_PT.


For the original layer, a development dataset was generated by address-matching (geocoding) ESE data by the MassDEP GIS Group. Whenever possible, development locations were manually refined using 1:5,000 black and white or color digital ortho imagery or 1:25,000 USGS digital topographic imagery. Internet sources, street atlas information and MassGIS Open Space data were also used to refine development locations. In some cases schools were contacted by phone to verify their locations.

MassGIS completed all subsequent updates by comparing ESE database files to the existing layer. Closed schools were removed and new locations were address-matched and manually refined using current ortho imagery, the school's Web site and other online resources, and/or by contacting the school itself. Attribute discrepancies (school address, principal, grade levels, etc.) between the old and new data were examined and relevant fields were updated, and if the change concerned the physical location of the school, then the point for that record was manually moved to the new location.

For the October 2015 update, an attempt was made to place every point on its building as it appeared in 2013-14 ortho imagery.


The Schools datalayer's point attribute table has the following fields:
SCHID Eight-digit ESE Code, a unique identifier for each school assigned by ESE. For districts and schools, the first four digits represent the District Code and the last four digits represent the School Code. The ESE Code is not the same as the Institution codes assigned by the College board for SAT and AP results or the NCES code assigned to Massachusetts schools by the U.S. Department of Education. This field is of type Text, as several IDs begin with zeros to ensure all contain eight characters.
NAME School name as provided by ESE, with some refinement by MassGIS for map labeling
ADDRESS School's mailing address, as provided by ESE
TOWN_MAIL School's city or town (in mailing address, as provided by ESE)
TOWN School's city or town (physical location, based on MassGIS' TOWNS_POLY layer)
ZIPCODE School's ZIP Code, as provided by ESE
PHONE School's main phone number, as provided by ESE
FAX School's fax number, as provided by ESE
PRINCIPAL Name of the principal of the school
GRADES Grade levels offered at the school
TYPE Identifies school type:
 PUB - Public
 PRI - Private
 CHA - Charter
 SPE - Special Education (Approved)
 SPU - Special Education (Unapproved)
TYPE_DESC Text description for the school type (in the TYPE field)
TYPE_DESC2 Additional description of school type. Currently identifies if a public school is an "Innovation Academy" or "Innovation School".

ESE defines the five categories of schools as follows:

Public School
Public schools are administered by a Public School District, and provide educational services directly to attending students. A Public School District is an administrative unit responsible for managing primary and secondary school services within a defined geographical boundary.

Private School
A non-publicly funded school that provides educational services directly to attending students.

Charter Public School
Public schools that are created by parents, teachers, businesses, and community leaders and have the freedom to organize their activities around a core mission, curriculum, or teaching method. Their autonomy gives them the freedom to create their own budgets and to hire and fire teachers and staff.

Special Educational School (Approved)
Private special education school programs that provide an education for students with disabilities contingent on meeting the requirements of 603 CMR 28.09, "Approval of Public and Private Day and Residential Special Education School Programs" AND 603 CMR 18.00, "Program and Safety Standards for Approved Public or Private Day and Residential Special Education School Programs."

Special Educational School (Unapproved)
Private special education school programs that have not been approved by the Department according to the requirements under 603 CMR 28.09. Students placed by the school district in such programs shall be entitled to the full protections of state and federal special education law and regulation, including but not limited to those protections specified in 603 CMR 28.09 and in 603 CMR 18.00. Such programs and services are provided in appropriate settings by appropriately credentialed staff able to deliver the services on each student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). See for full details.


MassGIS maintains this datalayer. Updates will be made periodically based on database information from ESE.

When updating the data, MassGIS makes a thorough search in trying to verify physical address locations. However, because of several factors, including: physical address differing from the mailing address (such as a P.O. Box in the mailing address), address information from other sources not existing, and sources that have not been updated, MassGIS encourages input concerning misplaced geographic location of points sent to If school attribute information appearing on the School/District Profiles section of the ESE Web site needs to be corrected, please notify the specific school's or district's Directory Administrator. Each District has a Directory Administrator, who is responsible for updating and maintaining the district and school information. A list is maintained at School and district profile information may be found by using the search tools at, which includes a link to a Geographic Search feature for finding and mapping schools.

In the October 2015 update: Collaborative Program locations were dropped; the special education school type was expanded to differentiate approved and unapproved facilities; the TYPE_DESC and TYPE_DESC2 fields were added; the SCHOOLS_PT_M_LDT (location documentation table) was dropped.

Also see the Public School Districts and Colleges and Universities datalayers.

Last Updated 11/16/2015