October 2012

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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. Categories of schools include public, private, charter, collaborative programs, and approved special education.

This dataset originally was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) GIS Program based on database information provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DOE). MassGIS now maintains and makes periodic updates to this dataset. The update published in October 2012 was based on listings MassGIS obtained from the DOE as of February 17, 2012, plus a change received from the field.

The layer is stored in ArcSDE and distributed as SCHOOLS_PT.


For the original layer, a development dataset was generated by address-matching (geocoding) DOE 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 DOE 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.

As part of the update published in October 2012, the names of some of the schools were refined to eliminate abbreviations like "Elem" (replaced with "Elementary") and add the word "School" to the end of the NAME field, where appropriate.


The Schools datalayer's point attribute table has the following items:
SCHID Unique identifier assigned by combining the DOE system and school codes
NAME School name as provided by DOE, with some refinement by MassGIS
ADDRESS School's mailing address, as provided by DOE
TOWN_MAIL School's city or town (in mailing address, as provided by DOE)
TOWN School's city or town (physical location, based on MassGIS' TOWNS_POLY layer)
ZIPCODE School's ZIP Code, as provided by DOE
PHONE School's main phone number, as provided by DOE
FAX School's fax number, as provided by DOE
PRINCIPAL Name of the superintendent or principal of the school
GRADES Grade levels offered at the school
TYPE Identifies school type:
 PUB - Public
 PRI - Private
 COP - Collaborative Program
 CHA - Charter
 SPE - Approved Special Education

DOE 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.

Collaborative Program
Through their programs, Collaboratives provide indirect services for schools, educators and communities. These services include but are not limited to: cooperative purchasing, student transportation, professional development, after school and vocational programs, special education programming, particularly for low-incidence populations and management support. Collaboratives are formed through an agreement among two or more school committees to provide education for their member school systems. Agreements must be filed with the Commissioner of ESE. A Board representative of each member school committee manages them.

Charter Public School
Authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Education Reform Act of 1993 as found in Chapter 71 of the Massachusetts General Laws, Section 89, charter schools are independent 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. They operate under five year charters granted by the Commonwealth's Board of Education. Their autonomy gives them the freedom to create their own budgets and to hire and fire teachers and staff. The increased freedom available to charter schools coupled with increased accountability, infuses all aspects of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's oversight of charter schools, beginning with the rigorous application process that groups must go through to receive a charter. A charter school must demonstrate good results within five years or risk losing its charter.

Approved Special Educational School
The Department approves private special education school programs operating in Massachusetts to 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." A school district (LEA) may also place a student in an approved out-of-state program if it believes that such a program is the most appropriate for the student.

Related Table

The Location Documentation Table SCHOOLS_PT_M_LDT contains standard feature-level DEP data documentation fields for each point in the dataset. See the page "DEP Location Documentation Standards for GIS Data" for details.


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

In September 2013 the location and attributes were updated for the Mount Pleasant Preschool in Plymouth.

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 michael.trust@state.ma.us. If school attribute information appearing on the School/District Profiles section of the DOE 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 http://www.doe.mass.edu/infoservices/data/diradmin/list.aspx. School and district profile information may be found by using the search tools at http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/, which includes a link to a Geographic Search feature for finding and mapping schools.

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

Last Updated 9/24/2013