Overview of the 100 Largest School Districts

In the 2008–09 school year, there were 17,953 operational public school districts, 100,713 operational public schools, and 49.9 million students in public schools in the United States and jurisdictions (table 1). Additionally, there were 3.3 million full-time equivalent (FTE)2 teaching positions in the 2008–09 school year and 3.1 million high school completers in the 2007–08 school year.3 The 100 largest school districts comprised less than 1 percent of all public school districts but served 22 percent of all public elementary and secondary students. These school districts contained 17 percent of all public schools and employed 22 percent of all FTE teaching positions. In comparison, the 500 largest school districts comprised 3 percent of all public school districts, 33 percent of public schools, and served 43 percent (21.5 million) of all public elementary and secondary students in the United States and jurisdictions.

The 100 largest school districts ranged in size from 47,448 to 981,690 students in 2008–09 (table A-1). Twenty-seven of these districts served more than 100,000 students. The largest public school district was New York City Public Schools, New York, with 981,690 students enrolled in 1,496 schools. The next largest was Los Angeles Unified, California, with 687,534 students in 860 schools. The enrollment of each of these two largest districts was greater than the enrollment of each of the 26 smallest states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Department of Defense dependents schools (overseas and domestic).4

2 FTE is a proportion of a full-time position. FTE is not a head count. For example, two half-time employees represent one FTE.
3 In the CCD, data on high school completers are collected 1 year after the completions occur. For example, data on 2007–08 high school completers are collected in the 2008–09 data collection.
4 State enrollment data can be found in the following CCD data file: "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 2008–09, Version 1a and in Sable and Noel (2010), table 1.