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Characteristics of Public School Districts in the United States:
NCES 2009-320
June 2009

Selected Findings

  • Of the estimated 16,330 public school districts in operation, 48 percent (7,770) were located in rural communities, 21 percent (3,480) in suburban areas, 18 percent (2,900) in towns, and 13 percent (2,190) in cities (table 1).
  • In districts' salary schedules, the average yearly base salary for teachers with a bachelor's degree and no teaching experience was $33,600, while teachers with the same degree but 10 years of teaching experience had a yearly base salary of $43,000 (table 2).
  • The average lowest yearly base salary paid to full-time teachers was $34,000 and the highest was $60,400 in 2007–08 among all districts (table 3).
  • About 98 percent of school districts offered general medical insurance benefits to teachers, 85 percent offered dental insurance, and 80 percent offered group life insurance (table 4).
  • Overall, 24 percent of public school districts offered pay incentives to teachers if they attained certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 15 percent offered pay incentives to recruit or retain teachers to teach in fields of shortage, 10 percent to reward excellence in teaching, and 6 percent to recruit or retain teachers to teach in a less desirable location (table 5).
  • On average, there were 22.4 newly hired teachers per district in the 2007–08 school year, ranging from an average of 2.1 new hires in districts with less than 250 students to an average of 206.2 new hires in districts with 10,000 or more students (table 6).
  • While 54 percent of school districts had a collective bargaining agreement with teachers' associations or unions, 11 percent of districts had meet-and-confer agreements with these groups (table 7).
  • Overall, 4.4 teachers out of an average 211.4 teachers per district did not have their contracts renewed or were dismissed as a result of poor performance (table 8).
  • Among the districts that granted high school diplomas, students were required to take on average 3.9 years of instruction in English or language arts, 3.0 years in mathematics, 1.0 years in computer science, 3.3 years in social sciences and social studies, 2.7 years in physical or biological sciences, and 1.6 years in foreign languages (table 9).
  • Among public school districts with more than one school, the average lowest yearly base salary paid to full-time principals was $73,300 in 2007–08, while the highest was $88,600 (table 10).
  • Collective bargaining agreements with principals' associations or unions were reported by 16 percent of public school districts with more than one school, and meet-and-confer agreements were reported by 10 percent (table 11).
  • Among districts with more than one school, 24 percent of the districts had a training program for aspiring school administrators and 9 percent of principals were newly hired by a district in the 2007–08 school year (table 12).

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