There were 98,817 operating public elementary/secondary schools in the 2010–11 school year (table 1). In this school year, 1,929 schools were closed and 1,665 new schools were opened. Most operating schools were regular schools (88,929) that were responsible for instruction in the standard curriculum as well as other areas. An additional total of 2,206 schools focused primarily on special education services; 1,485 schools were identified as vocational schools; and 6,197 were identified as alternative education schools.
By 2010–2011, charter schools had been established in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and 31 states and the District of Columbia had designated magnet schools (table 2). Charter schools enrolled about 1.8 million students, and magnet schools enrolled about 2.1 million students in 2010–11 (table 3).
Across all regular public schools that had membership, the overall pupil/teacher ratio3 in 2010–11 was 15.7 (table 4), compared to 16.1 in 2009–10 (Chen 2011). In the 2010–11 school year, the ratio ranged from 10.9 in Vermont to 23.8 in Utah. The pupil/teacher ratio differed across school instructional levels: it was 15.6 in primary; 15.4 in middle; and 16.1 in high schools.
School size differed by instructional level in 2010–11. On average, primary schools had 453 students in membership, middle schools had 576 students, and high schools had 847 students (table 5).
More schools (29,202) were in rural locations than in any other locale in 2010–11. An additional 22,492 were in cities; 24,461 schools were in suburban areas; and 11,849 were in towns (table 6). In contrast, the largest percentage of students attended suburban schools (34 percent), followed by schools in cities (29 percent), rural areas (25 percent), and towns (12 percent). These distributions were similar to those in 2009–10 (Chen 2011).
Eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch under the National School Lunch Program is sometimes used as a proxy measure of poverty. Across the reporting states and the District of Columbia, 48 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch in 2010–11 (table 7), compared to the 47 percent reported in 2009–10 (Chen 2011). In 2010–11, the percentage of eligibility ranged among states from a low of 25 percent in New Hampshire to a high of 73 percent in the District of Columbia. By locale, 60 percent of students in city schools were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, compared to 52 percent in towns, 44 percent in rural areas, and 40 percent in suburban areas.
3 Pupil/teacher ratio is the number of students for each full-time equivalent (FTE) teacher. FTE is the amount of time required to perform an assignment stated as a proportion of a full-time position.