Ed Management Services

Procedures for School Boundaries

REF: Education Law, Section 2215

Definition: The "determination of a school district boundary" is a formal statement that describes the location of a segment of a boundary line between two districts. A determination is necessary in instances where there is no known available description or where there is a dispute concerning where the boundary is supposed to be.

Purpose: The determination serves to indicate the districts in which pupils and families reside and the districts in which properties are to be taxed as well as other related matters. It is not proper to use the act of determining a boundary as the occasion for making a boundary alteration, i.e., moving parcels of land from one district to another. That act involves a distinctly different set of procedures and requirements - (See Boundary Alterations; Sections 1506-1507; 1525).

Responsibility: Section 2215 of the Education Law assigns the responsibility for boundary determination within his or her Supervisory District to the District Superintendent of Schools. When the boundary determination includes school districts located in two different Supervisory Districts, the determination must be made jointly.The determination made is a matter of individual judgment, based upon the best information available at the time. The District Superintendent is not required to follow any prescribed procedure but may secure whatever information is felt to be applicable under the circumstances. The District Superintendent's action is, of course, subject to appeal to the Commissioner.

Procedure: A request for a boundary determination may emanate from a district, a request from a property owner, or a resident with school age children. It is usually desirable to have a request in writing to assure that the required effort is directed at the proper problem.

The District Superintendent usually requests information from as many of the following sources as may be required:

1) Existing school district records - maps, resolutions, previous boundary determinations.

2) Municipal records - tax or assessment rolls, town clerk's files, any other files or orders.

3) County records - Beer's Atlas (1860-1875), orders on file, or any other maps on file.

4) State Education Department and New York State Archives - Master Plan maps, any other records.

Once it appears that all available information has been reviewed, a written determination is made by the District Superintendent(s) with copies to the Education Department, districts, proper town clerk, real property tax office and other interested parties. Maps or sketches sometimes help to clarify and illustrate the intent of the order.It should be noted that there is no central file in the Education Department of legal descriptions of districts (metes and bounds or any other). The available maps are approximations and were never intended to serve the purposes of legal descriptions (1947 Master Plan, 1936 Supervisory District, 1957 Audit and Control are in Office of Educational Management). Any "legal" maps or descriptions which exist in the files were secured incidental to some other activity. However, for the purposes of attributing reported income to a school district and for payment of property taxes, school district boundaries as depicted in tax maps constitute a legal boundary and remain so until changed by an order of the District Superintendent or Commissioner.

For further information, please contact Christina Coughlin, (518) 474-6541, ccoughli@mail.nysed.gov, NYS Education Department, Office of Educational Management Services.  She will provide the necessary technical assistance to District Superintendents in this process.

Last Updated: October 31, 2013