School district

School district

School districts are a form of special-purpose district which serves to operate the local public primary and secondary schools. They exist mostly in the United States, where they operate nearly all government-funded schools.

United States

Public education in many communities in the USA has been made the function of a school district serving one or more towns. A school district is a unique body corporate and politic, usually with districts being coequal to that of a city or a county, and has similar powers including taxation and eminent domain. Its legislative body, elected by direct popular vote or by appointment by other governmental officials, is called a "school board", "board of trustees", or "school committee", and this body appoints a "superintendent", usually an experienced public school administrator, to function as the district's chief executive for carrying out day-to-day decisions and policy implementations. The school board may also exercise a quasi-judicial function in serious employee or student discipline matters.

Not all school systems constitute school districts as distinct bodies corporate. A few states have no school systems independent of county or municipal governments. One prominent example is Maryland, where all school systems are run at the county or, in the case of Baltimore City, the county-equivalent level. Other states, such as New York, have both independent school districts and school systems that are subordinate to cities [] . Uniquely, the Hawaii State Department of Education functions as a single state-wide school district.

In the 2002 Census of Governments, the United States Census Bureau enumerated the following numbers of school systems in the United States:
*13,506 school district governments
*178 state-dependent school systems
*1,330 local-dependent school systems
*1,196 education service agencies (agencies providing support services to public school systems)

The functioning of a school district can be a key influence and concern in local politics. A well run district with safe and clean schools, graduating enough students to good universities, can enhance the value of housing in its area, and thus increase the amount of tax revenue available to carry out its operations. Conversely, a poorly-run district may cause growth in the area to be far less than surrounding areas, or even a decline in population. In recent years, poorly-run schools or districts, particularly in affluent areas and major cities, have sometimes been converted into charter schools.

In addition to the various schools it operates and the various support facilities they require for their operation, such as school bus yards, laundries, warehouses, and kitchens, some very large school districts operate medical clinics, television stations (many of which are official CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, PBS or NPR affiliates for their respective markets), and fully functioning campus police departments. Additionally it is not unusual to find public libraries or recreation programs operated by a school system.

In Virginia, school districts are called school divisions because funding for education comes through the city or county government that the school division is located in.


Although these terms can vary slightly between various states and regions, these are typical definitions for school district constitution:


* An elementary school usually includes kindergarten and grades one through five (sometimes six). In some school districts these grades are divided into two schools.
* A middle school usually includes grades six or seven through eight (in some places, the alternative terms junior high school or intermediate school are still used). Junior high school often referred to schools that covered grades seven through nine. Intermediate school is often used for schools that cover grades 3-5 or so when they are separated from elementary schools.
* A high school usually includes grades nine through twelve and may include grades seven and above. There are many high schools that cover only grades ten to twelve.


These terms may not appear in a district's name, even though the condition may apply.
* A unified school district includes elementary and secondary (middle school and high school) educational levels.
* The word central in a district's name indicates that there is one central administration that oversees the entire district.
* The word free in a district's name indicates that no tuition is charged to attend district schools. In New York, it is used in conjunction with union to indicate a district composed of multiple, formerly independent common school districts now free of restrictions placed on New York State's common school districts.
* The word union or consolidated in a district's name indicates that it was formed from two or more districts.
* The word joint in a district's name indicates that it includes territory from more than one county.
* The word independent can have different meanings, depending on the state.
** Kentucky — Here, "Independent" districts are separate from county districts, the standard form of school district in the state. If a county has no independent district, its school district boundaries coincide exactly with its borders. As of 2007, the state has 54 independent districts scattered throughout the state, with major concentrations in Northern Kentucky and the Eastern Coal Fields region. These districts are generally associated with a city, or sometimes with a cluster of adjoining cities. Unlike county districts, independent districts can cross county lines, as in the Caverna Independent Schools centered on Cave City and Horse Cave and the Corbin Independent Schools. Note that some districts in the state are independent despite not having "Independent" in their official name, as in the Owensboro Public Schools and Paducah Public Schools.
** Texas — Here, "Independent" denotes that the district is separate from any county- or municipal-level entity. All of the state's school districts, with only one exception, are independent of any municipal or county control. Moreover, school district boundaries rarely coincide with municipal limits or county lines. Most districts use the term "Independent School District" in their name; in the few cases where the term "Common School District" is used the district is still an independent governmental entity.

*In Ohio, school districts are classified as either city school districts, exempted village school districts, or local school districts. City and exempted village school districts are exempted from county boards of education, local school districts remain under county school board supervision. School districts may combine resources to form a fourth type of school district, the joint vocational school district, which focuses on a technical based curriculum. [ [ Special Purpose Governments] , Ohio State University. Accessed 2008-01-05.]

*In Michigan there are Intermediate School Districts largely at the county level. The local schools districts run the schools and most programs, but often bi-lingual aides and programs for the deaf and blind are run by the Intermediate School District.

International comparisons

While a number of other countries have school districts, they often vary drastically from the U.S. model. Often other jurisdictions will have autonomous districts (or equivalent) authorities to represent various groups seeking autonomy, such as linguistic groups, or religious groups. The U.S. school districts, which tend to be based largely on geographical divisions, generally avoid these issues, as English is such a dominant language, and religion is largely excluded from public education by the legal doctrine of the separation of church and state and the widespread existence of private schools run by religious organizations. In much of the world, religious (confessional), linguistic, and other divisions, are a significant factor in organizing school districts or equivalent authorities.

In England and Wales, school boards were established in 1870, and abolished in 1902, with county council and county borough councils becoming the Local Education Authorities. []


* London School Board
* Education areas in New South Wales, Australia
* Education districts in Queensland, Australia

ee also

* Lists of school districts in the United States
* List of the largest school districts in the United States by enrollment
* State education agency
* School division (Virginia)
* Unified school district
* School district drug policies


External links

* [ 2002 Census of Governments]
* [ U.S. School Districts Online]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • School district — School School, n. [OE. scole, AS. sc?lu, L. schola, Gr. ? leisure, that in which leisure is employed, disputation, lecture, a school, probably from the same root as ?, the original sense being perhaps, a stopping, a resting. See {Scheme}.] 1. A… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • school district — ☆ school district n. a geographical division, with specified limits, whose school or schools are administered by a local board of education * * * n (in US education) an area containing several elementary schools and high schools run by the same… …   Universalium

  • school district — ☆ school district n. a geographical division, with specified limits, whose school or schools are administered by a local board of education …   English World dictionary

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  • school district — school .district n an area in one state of the US that includes a number of schools which are governed together …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • school district — school ,district noun count an area within a U.S. state in which all the schools are managed by the same group of people …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • school district — noun a district whose public schools are administered together • Hypernyms: ↑administrative district, ↑administrative division, ↑territorial division * * * noun, pl ⋯ tricts [count] US : an area or region containing the schools that a school… …   Useful english dictionary

  • School District 43 — A School District with the numbered designation of 43. Among them are:* School District 43 Coquitlam, British Columbia * Apache Junction Unified School District #43, Arizona * …   Wikipedia

  • school district — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms school district : singular school district plural school districts an area within a US state in which all the schools are managed by the same group of people …   English dictionary

  • school district — A local administrative authority with fixed territorial limits created by the legislature, and subordinate to its will, as an agent of the state for the sole purpose of administering the state s system of public education. 47 Am J1st Sch § 12. A… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

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