Unified School District

About Unified School District

School Districts are single-purpose administrative units within which local officials provide public educational services for the area's residents. The Census Bureau obtains school district boundaries, names, local education agency codes, grade ranges, and school district levels biennially from state school officials. The Census Bureau collects this information for the primary purpose of providing the U.S. Department of Education with annual estimates of the number of children in poverty within each school district, county, and state. This information serves as the basis for the Department of Education to determine the annual allocation of Title I funding to states and school districts.

The 2000 and 2010 TIGER/Line Shapefiles include separate shapefiles for elementary, secondary, and unified school districts. The Census 2000 school district shapefiles contain school district information from the 1999-2000 school year and the 2010 shapefiles contain information from the 2009-2010 school year. The 2009-2010 school districts represent districts in operation as of January 1, 2010.

The elementary school districts provide education to the lower grade/age levels and the secondary school districts provide education to the upper grade/age levels. The unified school districts are districts that provide education to children of all school ages. In general, where there is a unified school district, no elementary or secondary school district exists (see exceptions described below), and where there is an elementary school district the secondary school district may or may not exist (see explanation below). In addition to regular functioning school districts, the TIGER/Line Shapefiles contain pseudo-school districts (see description below).

The Census Bureau's representation of school districts is based on the grade ranges for which the school district is financially responsible, which may or may not be the grade ranges that a school district operates. (The grade range that reflects financial responsibility is important for the allocation of Title 1 funds.) A typical example would be a school district that operates schools for children in grades Kindergarten (KG)-8, and pays for a neighboring school district to educate children in grades 9-12. The first school district is operationally responsible for grades K-8, but financially responsible for grades KG-12. Therefore, the Census Bureau would define the grade range for that school district as KG-12. If an elementary school district is financially responsible for grades KG-12 or Pre-Kindergarten (PK)-12, there will be no secondary school district represented for that area. In cases, where an elementary school district is financially responsible for only lower grades, there is generally a secondary school district that is financially responsible for providing educational services for the upper grades.

The following are exceptions to the above information:

The Census Bureau depicts the State of Hawaii as one unified school district, and the five counties that represent the five boroughs of New York city are one school district, but for the 1999-2000 school year the Census Bureau included elementary and secondary school districts in Hawaii and elementary school districts in the five New York boroughs in order to provide additional statistics for administrative areas within these school districts. The Census Bureau removed these special administrative areas from its database in 2003 upon the request of Hawaii and New York City officials. However, the Census Bureau still represents these administrative areas for Hawaii and New York in Census 2000 school district shapefiles.

In the 2010 Census school district shapefiles, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas contain pseudo-secondary school districts that represent regular unified school districts in areas where the unified school districts share financial responsibility service with elementary school districts. In the Census 2000 school district shapefiles, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Tennessee contain pseudo-secondary school districts. These pseudo-secondary school districts were created, and linked to real unified school districts in order for the Census Bureau to allocate the high school aged children to the unified school districts. (The Census Bureau could not assign the official unified school district codes, but had to create pseudo-school district codes to represent a service area where the unified school district is financially responsible for less than the entire KG-12 grade range). In these areas, there were no regular functioning secondary school districts serving the area, and the elementary school districts in these areas were not paying tuition to the unified school districts (that is, the elementary school districts' financial responsibilities did not extend to grade 12).

School District Codes - The TIGER/Line Shapefiles contain 5-character numeric school district codes. The value 99998 is a school district code which is used for some large bodies of water, and 99997 is a school district code assigned to land where no official school district is defined by a state. The school district codes are the local education agency codes used by the U.S. Department of Education.

School District Names - The names of school districts include their description and no other field (NAMELSAD) is required. Sometimes school district names for Census 2000 vintage files are shown in all capital letters, which is different from names for all other geographic areas. The current school district name went through name standardization since the 2008 TIGER/Line shapefiles and now all names are in mixed case.;