School district

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A school district is a special-purpose district that operates local public primary and secondary schools in various nations.

A middle school is an educational stage which exists in some countries, providing education between primary school and upper secondary school. The concept, regulation and classification of middle schools, as well as the ages covered, vary between, and sometimes within, countries.


United States

In the U.S, public schools belong to school districts, which are governed by school boards. Each district is an independent special-purpose government, or dependent school systems, under the guidelines of each U.S. state government and local school boards. A school district is a legally separate body corporate and politic. School districts are local governments with powers similar to that of a town or a county including taxation and eminent domain, except in Virginia, whose school divisions have no taxing authority and must depend on another local government (county, city, or town) for funding. Its governing body, which is typically elected by direct popular vote but may be appointed by other governmental officials, is called a school board , board of trustees, board of education,school committee, or the like. 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.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Town settlement that is bigger than a village but smaller than a city

A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages but smaller than cities, though the criteria to distinguish them vary considerably between different parts of the world.

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, an administrative or political subdivision of a state is a county, which is a region having specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs respectively.

School districts in the Midwest and West tend to cross municipal boundaries, while school districts in New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions tend to adhere to city, township, and/or county boundaries. [1] As of 1951 school districts were independent governmental units in 26 states, while in 17 states there were mixes of independent school districts and school districts subordinate to other local governments. In nine states there were only school districts subordinate to local governments. [2]

Midwestern United States region that includes parts of Canada and the United States

The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the American Midwest, Middle West, or simply the Midwest, is one of four census regions of the United States Census Bureau. It occupies the northern central part of the United States. It was officially named the North Central Region by the Census Bureau until 1984. It is located between the Northeastern United States and the Western United States, with Canada to its north and the Southern United States to its south.

Western United States Region in the United States

The Western United States is the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. As European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward through the centuries, the meaning of the term the West changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains was seen as the western frontier. The frontier moved westward and eventually the lands west of the Mississippi River were considered the West.

New England Region of the United States

New England is a region composed of six states of the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and north, respectively. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the south. Boston is New England's largest city as well as the capital of Massachusetts. The largest metropolitan area is Greater Boston with nearly a third of the entire region's population, which also includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

Not all school systems constitute school districts as distinct bodies corporate. In most Southern states, school systems operate either as an arm of county government, or at least share coextensive boundaries with the state's counties. In Maryland, most school systems are run at the county level, but the Baltimore City system operates separately, at a county-equivalent level. In New York, most school districts are separate governmental units with the power to levy taxes and incur debt, except for the five cities with population over 125,000, where the schools are operated directly by the municipalities. [3] The Hawaii State Department of Education functions as a single statewide school district. This is unique among the states, but the District of Columbia Public Schools operates district public schools in Washington, DC and the Puerto Rico Department of Education operates all public schools in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, thus they also function as single school districts.

Baltimore Largest city in Maryland

Baltimore is the largest city in the state of Maryland within the United States. Baltimore was established by the Constitution of Maryland as an independent city in 1729. With a population of 602,495 in 2018, Baltimore is the largest such independent city in the United States. As of 2017, the population of the Baltimore metropolitan area was estimated to be just under 2.802 million, making it the 21st largest metropolitan area in the country. Baltimore is located about 40 miles (60 km) northeast of Washington, D.C., making it a principal city in the Washington-Baltimore combined statistical area (CSA), the fourth-largest CSA in the nation, with a calculated 2018 population of 9,797,063.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State.

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) is the local, traditional public school system of Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. DCPS should not be confused with the independently governed DC Public Charter Schools (DCPCS), which also operates in Washington, D.C.


From 1942 to 1951 the number of school districts declined from 108,579 to 70,452, a decrease by 38,127 or 35%. [4] Many states had passed laws facilitating school district consolidation. In 1951 the majority of the school districts in existence were rural school districts only providing elementary education, and some school districts did not operate schools but instead provided transportation to other schools. The Midwest (North Central U.S.) had a large number of rural school districts. [2]

Previously areas of the Unorganized Borough of Alaska were not served by school districts, but instead served by schools directly operated by the Alaska Department of Education and by Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools. The state schools were transferred to the Alaska State-Operated School System (SOS) after the Alaska Legislature created it in 1971; that agency was terminated in 1975, with its schools transferred to the newly created Alaska Unorganized Borough School District, which was broken apart into twenty-one school districts the following year. [5]

Alaska State of the United States of America

Alaska is a U.S. state in the northwest extremity of North America, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast. Its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015— is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. Military bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.

Bureau of Indian Affairs US government agency

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of 55,700,000 acres (225,000 km2) of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans in the United States, Native American Tribes and Alaska Natives.

Alaska Legislature

The Alaska Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is a bicameral institution consisting of the 40-member Alaska House of Representatives and the 20-member Alaska Senate. There are 40 House Districts (1–40) and 20 Senate Districts (A–T). With a total of 60 lawmakers, the Alaska Legislature is the smallest bicameral state legislature in the United States and the second-smallest of all state legislatures. There are no term limits for either chamber.

In the 2002 Census of Governments, the United States Census Bureau enumerated the following numbers of school systems in the United States:

School districts in the US have reduced the number of their employees by 3.3%, or 270,000 between 2008 and 2012, owing to a decline in property tax revenues during and after the Great Recession. [6]


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


  • An elementary or primary school usually includes kindergarten and grades one through five or six. In some school districts, these grades are divided into two schools. Primary school is most commonly used for schools housing students in kindergarten through grade two or three in districts where the older elementary students are in intermediate schools (see below).
  • A middle school usually includes grades six or seven through eight or nine. In some places, the alternative terms junior high school or intermediate school are still used. Junior high school often refers to schools that cover grades seven through nine. Intermediate school is also used for schools that cover grades three through five (or so) when they are separated from elementary schools.
  • A high school usually includes grades nine or ten through twelve and may also include grades seven and eight. There are many high schools that cover only grades ten to twelve; this type of school is sometimes referred to as a senior high school.


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 the district is formed from a consolidation ("centralization") of multiple districts and that the central district's operations are centralized relative to those of the previous districts. [7]
  • 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.
    • In Missouri, most district names include a C- (for "consolidated") or, more commonly, an R- (for "reorganized") followed by a number, commonly in Roman numerals. [8]
  • The word joint in a district's name indicates that it includes territory from more than one county. By extension, a joint state school district, such as Union County–College Corner JSD, includes territory in more than one state.
  • The word independent can have different meanings, depending on the state.
    • Kentucky — Under Kentucky Revised Statutes § 160.020, an "Independent" district is defined as one whose jurisdiction does not cover an entire county. [9] If a county has no independent district, its school district boundaries coincide exactly with its borders. [10] Since 2013, the state has 53 independent districts scattered throughout the state, with major concentrations in Northern Kentucky and the Eastern Coalfield 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 School District 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.
    • Minnesota — Per Minnesota Statute 120A.05, "Independent" denotes any school district validly created and existing as an independent, consolidated, joint independent, county or a ten or more township district as of July 1, 1957, or pursuant to the Education Code. [11]
    • 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 (Stafford Municipal School District), 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, while 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 skills–based curriculum. [12]
  • In Michigan, there are intermediate school districts (ISD), regional education service districts (RESD), or regional education service agencies (RESA), largely at the county level. The local schools districts run the schools and most programs, but often bilingual aides, programs for the deaf and blind, special education for the severely impaired, and career and technical education programs are run by the intermediate school district or equivalent.
  • County-wide school districts are mostly commonly found in Mid-Atlantic and Southern states such as Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Nevada and Utah also have mostly county-wide school districts, and Alaska has many borough-wide school districts. Hawaii operates its schools at the state level through its department of education.
  • In Maine, there are regional school units wherein smaller districts were consolidated into RSUs in 2008 when state laws changed.
Teacher assignment practices in school districts

There are various approaches can when making decisions in assigning teachers. The deciding in assigning teachers can occur with the collaboration of human resource staff or decisions from the collaboration with principals and teachers. [13] Although the decisions for teacher assignment can vary base on school districts, there are two most popular approaches that are currently occurring in assigning teachers. The first popular approach is assigning students to teachers based on sharing the same characteristics as their students. [14] For instance, principals assign teachers to students based on academic performance, teachers’ personalities, teachers teaching styles, and teachers’ classroom management skills. During this assignment practices, there are some collaboration with teachers and principals. The second most popular approach is that teachers can be assigned based on their ability to improve students’ standardized test scores. This is identified as “staffing to the test” [15] in which principals observe the influence teachers have on students’ standardized test scores and then strategically move teachers to certain subjects or grades where standardized test are given. [15]

Even though two approaches are used to assign teachers to students, there are some obstacles that principals encounter when making teacher assignment decisions. For instance, one conflict is parents demand that their child be assigned to a specific teacher. [16] The second conflict is that principals need to take into consideration policies, such as tenure or collective bargaining, which can influence teacher assignment practices. [17] Due to these challenges, many have suggested that principals should collaborate with teacher unions in order to address these conflicts. [17] [18]


Outside the United States, autonomous districts or equivalent authorities often represent various groups seeking education autonomy. In European history, as in much of the world, religious (confessional), linguistic, and ethnic divisions have been a significant factor in school organization. This paradigm is shifting.[ how? ]

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. [19]

In France, the system of the carte scolaire was dismantled by the beginning of the 2007 school year. More school choice has been given to French students; however, priority is given to those who meet the following criteria:

In Germany, schools are run and funded by the general regional entities, usually the States of Germany or municipalities. School districts in the meaning of distinct legal entities do not exist.

In Italy, school districts were established in 1974 by the "Provvedimenti Delegati sulla scuola" ("Assigned Laws [to the Government] about the school"). [20] Each district must contain a minimum of 10,000 inhabitants. The national government attempted to link the local schools with local society and culture and local governments. The school districts were dissolved in 2003 by the "legge finanziaria" (law about the government budget) in an attempt to trim the national budget. [21]


See also

Related Research Articles

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East Stroudsburg Area School District

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Pocono Mountain School District

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  2. 1 2 "State and Local Government Special Studies: Governments in the United States 1951." Property Taxation 1941. U.S. Census Bureau. G-SS-No. 29, March 1952. p. 2 (Google Books RA3-PA56).
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  6. USA Today published March 13, 2012, page A1,"Property taxes start to decline"
  7. Niskayuna Central School District: District History
  8. "Answer Man: What's 'R' mean in school district names?" . Retrieved 10 Mar 2017.
  9. Kentucky Revised Statutes § 160.020.
  10. Kentucky Revised Statutes § 160.010.
  11. "120A.05 - 2014 Minnesota Statutes". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  12. Special Purpose Governments, Ohio State University. Accessed 2008-01-05.
  13. Monk, D. H. (1987). "Assigning elementary pupils to their teachers.". The Elementary School Journal. 88(2): 166–187.
  14. Kraemer, S., Worth, R., & Meyer, R. H. (2011, April). Classroom assignment practices in urban school districts using teacher level value-added systems. In Association for Education Finance and Policy Annual Conference.
  15. 1 2 Cohen-Vogel, L. (2011). “Staffing to the test” are today’s school personnel practices evidence based? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(4), 483-505. doi: 10.3102/0162373711419845.
  16. Clotfelter, C.T., Ladd, H.F., & Vigdor, J. (2005). Who teaches whom? Race and the distribution of novice teachers. Economics of Education Review, 24(4), 377-392. doi : 10.1016/j.econedurev.2004.06.008
  17. 1 2 Youngs, P., Pogodzinski, B., & Galey, S. (2015). How Labor Management Relations and Human Resource Policies Affect the Process of Teacher Assignment in Urban School Districts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 51(2), 214-246. doi: 10.1177/0013161X14529148
  18. Useem, E., & Farley, E. (2004). Philadelphia’s teacher hiring and school assignment practices: Comparisons with other districts. Retrieved from Youngs, P., Pogodzinski, B., & Galey, S. (2015). How Labor Management Relations and Human Resource Policies Affect the Process of Teacher Assignment in Urban School Districts. Educational
  19. "Find archives & local records". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  20. "Text of the DPR n° 416 del 31 maggio 1974 ("Assigned Laws about the school")" (in Italian). 1994 [31 May 1974]. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  21. "L 289/2002: Text of the law n° 289 del 27 dicembre 2002 ("legge finanziaria 2003")" (in Italian). 2003 [27 Dec 2002]. Retrieved 2016-03-30.

Further reading