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School Geography: Schools and School Locations

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There are over 130,000 public and private schools in the United States.  Currently, the most comprehensive list of schools is maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—but even this source is far from perfect in terms of completeness and accuracy.

Firstly, although public schools are required to report to the NCES annually, depending on when changes (e.g. new or consolidated schools) occur and the fact that the NCES generally does not publish results until about a year after the reporting cutoff, some of its data can be as much as two years old.

Further, around 2000, the NCES added lat/long coordinates for the schools in its databases by geocoding the schools' addresses against TIGER and perhaps another street dataset.  However, we find that the placement of many of these schools is considerably off, many miles in some cases.

Maponics School Boundaries TM

As I’ve described in previous posts in this blog series, for Maponics School Boundaries, we annually source and update the entire set of school geography (including school district boundaries, school attendance zones and school locations and profiles) for every locally-sourced area.  Under our Maintenance Program, we revisit and verify the district’s information each year.  As part of this process, we work with local resources and officials to ensure that we represent the latest information about all the schools within the district.

We start with the NCES database and state lists and then go directly to the school districts to ensure we represent all public schools in our data and know where they are located.  We geocode any addresses obtained against a high-quality dataset and take any locally-sourced point sets and update these using aerial and satellite imagery to move the point to the rooftop of the school.

Of course, with Maponics School Boundaries, the value comes not just from the comprehensive database of schools but the combination of the database with the related boundaries, including school attendance zones and school district boundaries.