Special Purpose Gov't

Unlike general purpose governments, special purpose governments offer only one or two major services. Two kinds of special purpose governments are school districts and special districts.

  1. School Districts: Public education is one of the most important functions of government. Both state and federal governments provide money and make rules for public education. But local school districts have most of the day-to-day responsibility for running the schools. Each district has an elected school board that decides what the budget should be, determines where schools should be built, sets the curriculum, and hires the superintendent to run the schools. In Missouri, most school boards have seven members who are elected for three-year terms. The city of St. Louis, however, has a twelve member board elected for six-year terms.  In addition to its elected Board,  the St. Louis Public School District is also under the governance of a three-member Special Administrative Board.  One member is appointed by the Governor, one by the Mayor of St. Louis, and one by the President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.  It is a policy making body with the primary function of establishing and monitoring rules, plans, and procedures for the school system.  The Board appoints a superintendent to manage its budget, supervise the staff and students, and make recommendations for the operations of the schools and support services.
  2. Special Districts: Special districts are little known, but they are often the only way to provide a necessary service. For instance, a fire protection district may be set up to serve the needs of residents in one area of a rural county. A special district usually has the power to tax. It is run by a governing board, which may be elected or appointed. There are 29 different types of special districts in Missouri. They provide such services as:
    • fire protection
    • ambulance services
    • libraries
    • sewers
    • roads
    • parks
    • water


  • Afton School District
  • Ferguson-Florissant School District
  • Hazelwood School District
  • Jackson County Sports Complex Authority
  • Lindbergh School District
  • Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)
  • Missouri Department of Transportation
  •  Nixa School District
  • Ritenour School District
  • Webster Groves School District

Follow-Up:  Why is special purpose government necessary for governments to operate?  How are special purpose governments funded?