There were 97,382 operating public elementary/secondary schools in the 2005–06 school
year (table 1). In this school year, 1,553 schools were closed and 2,291 new schools were
opened. An additional 951 "future" schools were planned to open within the next two
years. A total of 958 schools were flagged as "shared time," that is, providing services for
students who were in membership in some other school.
Most schools were regular schools (87,585) that were responsible for instruction in the
standard curriculum as well as other areas (table 2). Some 1,221 schools were identified
as vocational schools; 2,128 schools focused primarily on special education services; and
6,448 provided some other form of alternative education.
More than 1 million students were enrolled in 3,780 charter schools in 2005–06 (table 3).
During that school year, 433 new charter schools were opened.
The average student/teacher ratio was 16.2 across all regular public schools with
membership (table 4). This is the number of students for each full-time equivalent (FTE)3
teacher. The average student/teacher ratio differed among school instructional levels: it
was 15.9 in primary; 16.0 in middle; and 17.0 in high schools.
School size also differed by instructional level in 2005–06. On the average, primary schools had 445
students in membership, middle schools had 603 students, and high schools had 887 students
The greatest number of schools (28,788) were in suburban locations. An additional
27,589 schools were in rural areas; 22,167 were in large or mid-size cities; and 8,248
were in towns (table 6).
Eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch is sometimes used as a proxy measure of
poverty. In the 2005–06 school year, 54.9 percent of students in city schools were eligible
for free or reduced-price lunch (table 7). The percentage of students who were eligible for
free or reduced-price lunch across other locale types was 46.9 in towns, 38.3 percent in
rural areas, and 32.7 percent in suburban areas.
3 FTE is the amount of time required to perform an assignment stated as a proportion of a full-time position.