Introducing the School Geography Blog Series

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As the first company to offer a commercial GIS data product that include school boundaries (both school districts and school attendance zones), we’ve come to understand some of the unique characteristics of what we call School Geography.  We thought that we’d share some of that knowledge with our Blog community.

In this first post, I’ll discuss the basics—think of it as School Geography 101.  Just a few definitions and a sense for what our School Boundaries product is all about to provide some context.  In coming weeks, one of our Lead Developers and a subject matter expert, Cory Martin, will add to the series with posts that discuss key topics in more detail.

Why School Boundaries Matter

You can’t see school boundaries and most of us are unaware of exactly where they are but school districts and more importantly, attendance zones, determine which schools our children attend and that has a profound impact on everything from our daily lives to their futures.

School Boundary Definitions

School Districts

School districts are the basic units around which public schools are organized and operated.  They represent an official administrative units as well as distinct geographic areas.

School Attendance Zones

School Attendance Zones are the areas within school districts that assign collections of households to specific public elementary, middle and high schools.  School Attendance Zones (SAZs) are generally determined by local school boards and allow them to distribute and balance the student population with available classroom space and resources.

Maponics School Boundaries TM

While the US Census is a source for school district boundaries (though they are only updated every two years), the only source for school attendance zones are local school officials, which is exactly where we obtain the data for mapping SAZ boundaries.

As of the first release (May 2010), 14,000 school district boundaries and 134,000 school points are available nationwide. School attendance zone boundaries are available for many major metro areas, representing student population coverage of 20%.

More Maponics School Boundaries Information

See school boundaries in action in our interactive mashup.
For more info, check out our school boundaries FAQ page.

Let us know what you think by posting a comment below.