Independent school district
An independent school district is a type of school district
School district
School districts are a form of special-purpose district which serves to operate the local public primary and secondary schools.-United States:...

 in the United States for primary and secondary education, which operates as an entity that is independent and separate from any municipality, county, or state. As such the administrative leadership of such districts is selected from within the district itself and has no direct responsibility to any other governmental authority. This independence normally also implies that the district has its own taxing authority that is outside of the direct control of other governmental entities.

The state of Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 has by far the largest number of independent school districts with almost all of its districts falling into this category (Stafford Municipal School District
Stafford Municipal School District
Stafford Municipal School District is a school district based in Stafford, Texas, United States. The district covers all of the city of Stafford and is controlled by the city, the only school district in Texas that is not an independent school district operated by an independent school board.There...

 being the notable exception). The term independent may be used to describe other types of school districts though this is less common.

The use of the term independent can vary in actual application across the country. In Kentucky, for example, all school districts there are independent of the state, county, and municipal governments. However a district is normally only referred to as independent if its jurisdiction does not cover an entire county, instead covering a city or cluster of cities.


Historically, as school districts were formed in the United States, they have generally been tied to municipal or county governments who have funded and administered them.

In Texas during the early 1900s school districts were generally divisions of county or municipal governments as in most of the country. The onset of the Texas Oil Boom
Texas Oil Boom
The Texas Oil Boom, sometimes called the Gusher Age, was a period of dramatic change and economic growth in U.S. state of Texas during the early 20th century that began with the discovery of a large petroleum reserve near Beaumont, Texas...

 dramatically changed many aspects of the state and many communities within it. Sudden discoveries of large petroleum reserves created numerous boomtown
A boomtown is a community that experiences sudden and rapid population and economic growth. The growth is normally attributed to the nearby discovery of a precious resource such as gold, silver, or oil, although the term can also be applied to communities growing very rapidly for different reasons,...

s whose populations often multiplied tremendously in short periods. The growth was often a mixed blessing for these communities. The rapid demographic change in the once small towns often initially caused severe strain on the local school systems unprepared for the rapid influx of students. Even as money was rapidly flowing in the communities, obtaining tax revenue efficiently where it was needed was often complex. Communities dealt with these problems by establishing independent school districts which could establish their own taxing authority and more quickly adjust to changing financial demands. This type of school district is still the standard in Texas today.


In the state of Texas, Districts are ran by a School Board. The elected council of the school board helps determine educational policy within the boundaries of the school district, its taxable area, which is "independent" of state lines. The board also has the ultimate say in the hiring and firing of principals and superintendents, and other district-wide administrative positions. The employment of teachers in individual schools however, is usually left to the principal and administrative staff of the respective schools.

A school board is usually organized as a division under the respective city government of the city in which the district is located. But, in areas where districts are older than nearby cities, a district can serve areas outside the city limits of the city it is named for. For example, Lewisville Independent School District
Lewisville Independent School District
Lewisville Independent School District is a 127-square mile school district based in Lewisville, Texas covering all of Lewisville, The Colony, Flower Mound, Highland Village, Copper Canyon, and Double Oak as well as portions of Plano, Carrollton, Frisco, Hebron, Coppell, Grapevine and Argyle.The...

 completely encompasses the city limits of Lewisville
Lewisville may refer to a community in the United States:*Lewisville, Arkansas*Lewisville, Idaho*Lewisville, Indiana*Lewisville, Minnesota*Lewisville, North Carolina*Lewisville, Texas*Lewisville, Washington-See also:*Lewisville High School...

, The Colony
The Colony
The Colony is a first-person shooter developed by David Alan Smith. It was published by Mindscape.The 1988 Macintosh release came in two versions, one in color and one with black-and-white graphics. The DOS version, released the same year, was available in black-and-white only...

, Flower Mound, and Highland Village (while Lewisville is arguably the largest of the cities it serves, this is not always the case). In fact, it is very common for multiple small suburbs or communities, with distinct city governments, to be served by a single school district.

The term "independent" is very applicable in modern times, despite it's early origins. As an example, the City of Dallas and the Dallas Independent School District
Dallas Independent School District
The Dallas Independent School District is a school district based in Dallas, Texas . Dallas ISD, which operates schools in much of Dallas County, is the second largest school district in Texas and the twelfth largest in the United States.In 2009, the school district was rated "academically...

 are completely separate-run entities; while both experience similar problems caused by similar factors, issues and corruption that arose within the Dallas School Board did not arise from, or link to, any corruption within the city government of Dallas itself.


In Kentucky standard school districts are organized at county level, with the district borders being identical with county boundaries. Independent districts are completely separate from county districts. (Both types of districts have taxing authority independent of counties, although the taxes they levy are physically collected by county governments.) As of 2010, the state has 54 independent school districts along with 120 county districts. The largest concentrations of independent districts are found in Northern Kentucky
Northern Kentucky
Northern Kentucky is the name often given to the northernmost counties in Kentucky...

 and the eastern coal region
Eastern Mountain Coal Fields
The Eastern Mountain Coal Fields is part of the Central Appalachian bituminous coal field, covering all or parts of 30 Kentucky counties and adjoining areas in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. It covers an area from the Allegheny Mountains in the east across the Cumberland Plateau and...

. Independent districts can be associated with:
  • a single city—such as Ashland, Bowling Green
    Bowling Green, Kentucky
    Bowling Green is the third-most populous city in the state of Kentucky after Louisville and Lexington, with a population of 58,067 as of the 2010 Census. It is the county seat of Warren County and the principal city of the Bowling Green, Kentucky Metropolitan Statistical Area with an estimated 2009...

    , Owensboro
    Owensboro Public Schools
    Owensboro Public Schools is a school district that manages the public schools inOwensboro, Kentucky, USA. This school system is independent of the county school system, Daviess County Public Schools.-Owensboro High School:...

    , or Paducah
    Paducah Public Schools
    Paducah Public Schools is a school district located in Paducah, Kentucky. The district serves most, but not all, of the city of Paducah; significant areas within the city limits lie in the surrounding McCracken County school district....

  • a cluster of adjoining cities—such as the Caverna district, serving Cave City
    Cave City, Kentucky
    Cave City is a city in Barren County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 1,880 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Glasgow Micropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Cave City is located at ....

     and Horse Cave
    Horse Cave, Kentucky
    Horse Cave is a city in Hart County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 2,252 at the 2000 census.- History :The city is best known for the large natural cave opening located on the south side of Main Street, from which the town's name is derived. As for the historical reason for the odd...

    ; Erlanger
    Erlanger, Kentucky
    Erlanger is a city in Kenton County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 16,676 at the 2000 census.- Geography :Erlanger is located at ....

    Elsmere, Kentucky
    Elsmere is a city in Kenton County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 8,451 at the 2010 census. The city was named after Elsmere Avenue in Norwood, Ohio.-Mayor Bradford:...

    , or the Russell
    Russell, Kentucky
    As of the census of 2000, there were 3,645 people, 1,428 households, and 1,106 families residing in the city. The population density was 910.5 people per square mile . There were 1,584 housing units at an average density of 395.7 per square mile...

     district, which also serves Bellefonte
    Bellefonte, Kentucky
    As of the census of 2000, there were 837 people, 349 households, and 270 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,161.3 people per square mile . There were 383 housing units at an average density of 531.4 per square mile...

     and almost all of Flatwoods
    Flatwoods, Kentucky
    As of the census of 2000, there were 7,605 people, 3,114 households, and 2,282 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,691.9 people per square mile . There were 3,338 housing units at an average density of 742.6 per square mile...


Kentucky independent districts can cross county lines. The two cities served by the Caverna district are in different counties. Another such district serves Corbin
Corbin, Kentucky
- Economy :Originally formed by L&N Railroad, rail transport was the backbone of the local economy in the first half of the twentieth century. While the railroad continues to play an important role, the decline of the rail industry in the latter half of the twentieth century, as well as the loss...

, a city divided by a county line.
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