The Kane County Regional Office of Education (ROE) offers school districts the opportunity to request the assistance of its geographic information system (GIS). The GIS allows for the creation of custom maps and geographic analyses for school districts.
The ROE began working with GIS through an internship program with Northern Illinois University’s Department of Geography. The first school district to participate in the GIS project was West Aurora School District 129. Batavia School District 101 and Central School District 301 have since asked the ROE to establish a GIS for their districts. As the value of GIS became apparent, the ROE hired a full-time GIS Coordinator in 2005, allowing the ROE to continue providing and expanding its mapping services.
The ROE uses the industry-leading ArcInfo GIS software package produced by ESRI. ArcInfo is the most powerful product in the ArcGIS family. GIS software is costly, computationally intensive, and requires the use of high-end workstations.
A variety of spatial data sources are available to the ROE. First and foremost are the data provided by the Kane County GIS department. This dataset includes aerial photography, parcel, road network, land use, soil type, elevation, and wetland layers. The ROE has a live link to production data on the County’s GIS server. The ROE also has agreements with the surrounding counties to share GIS data. Data collected during the 2000 Census are available. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) drawings can and have been incorporated into the GIS. The ability to create custom geographic data from scratch is also afforded by the GIS software. Tabular datasets, such as student databases, are incorporated into the GIS.
GIS has already proven to be a useful tool for Kane County school districts in the matter of attendance boundary changes. The software allows a school district to calculate student populations in a geographic area. Attendance areas can be broken down, allowing for smaller geographic units of measurement and the presentation of a variety of school boundary scenarios.
Some transportation concerns can be represented in GIS. Bus routes, bus stops, and hazardous roads can be included in the GIS.
GIS allows school districts to create and take advantage of updatable maps to address geographic concerns. While not the answer to all problems, GIS proves its utility by presenting information in a graphical manner.