There were 98,328 operating public elementary/secondary schools in SY 2011–12, which included 1,517 new schools that opened for the first time (table 1). States reported 1,840 schools that closed since the prior SY 2010–11. Most operating schools were regular schools (88,663) that were responsible for instruction in the standard curriculum as well as other areas. An additional 2,087 schools focused primarily on special education services; 1,434 schools were identified as vocational schools; and 6,144 were identified as alternative education schools.
There were 17,992 operating local education agencies in SY 2011–12 (table 1) including 211 new agencies that opened for the first time. States reported 161 local education agencies that closed since the prior SY 2010–11. Most operating agencies were regular school districts (13,567) that were responsible for educating students residing within their jurisdiction (table 1). A total of 1,540 operating agencies were supervisory unions or regional education service agencies that typically provide services to school districts (derived from table 1). A total of 2,485 were independent charter agencies in which all the associated schools were charter schools. An additional 400 agencies were operated by a state, federal, or other agency (derived from table 1).
In SY 2011–12 public elementary and secondary schools reported 49.5 million students in membership (table 2), which is unchanged from membership reported for SY 2010–11 (Keaton 2012).
In SY 2011–12, public elementary and secondary schools and local education agencies employed a total of 3.1 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers (table 2). This is constant with the 3.1 million FTE teachers in SY 2010–11 (Keaton 2012).
In SY 2011–12, the pupil/teacher ratio (i.e., the number of students for every FTE teacher) in public schools remained constant at 16.0 (table 2), compared to the ratio in SY 2010–11 (Keaton 2012). The ratio in SY 2011–12 ranged from a high of 23.4 in California to a low of 10.7 in Vermont.
In SY 2011–12, 39 states and the District of Columbia reported having charter schools; and 34 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had designated magnet schools (table 3).2
More schools (29,607) were in rural locations than in any other locale in SY 2011–12 (table 4). An additional 22,426 were in cities; 24,260 schools were in suburban areas; and 11,463 were in towns (table 4). 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).