How many public schools in the United States have closed?
In 1929–30, there were approximately 248,000 public schools, compared with about 98,000 in 2016–17. However, the number of public schools has increased in recent decades: Between 1988–89 and 2006–07, there was an increase of approximately 15,600 schools. Since 2006–07, the number of public schools has remained relatively stable, varying by fewer than 500 schools from year to year.
While the total number of public schools in the country has remained relatively stable in recent years, new schools have opened and some schools have closed. In 2016–17, there were 1,098 school closures. The schools that closed had enrolled about 189,000 students in the prior school year (2015–16). Of the schools that closed, 738 were regular schools, 66 were special education schools, 10 were vocational schools, and 284 were alternative schools. Of these closed schools, 181 were classified as charter schools. The number of schools that closed in 2016–17 was lower than the number in 2000–01 (1,193); however, the number of annual school closures fluctuated during this period, ranging from 1,098 to 2,168. School closures do not necessarily reflect the number of school buildings that have been closed, since a school may share a building with another school, or one school may have multiple buildings.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics, 2018 (NCES 2020-009), Chapter 2.
|Number and enrollment of public elementary and secondary schools that have closed, by school level and type: Selected years, 1995–96 through 2016–17|
|School level and type||1995–96||2000–01||2003–04||2004–05||2005–06||2006–07||2007–08||2008–09||2009–10||2010–11||2011–12||2012–13||2013–14||2014–15||2015–16||2016–17|
|Total, all schools||954||1,193||2,168||1,913||1,553||1,877||2,120||1,515||1,822||1,929||1,840||1,493||1,737||1,573||1,160||1,098|
|School level and type|
|Other (not classified by grade span)||216||144||716||389||257||530||710||214||449||263||162||126||188||111||71||37|
|All charter schools5||—||72||74||171||206||267||133||161||189||216||202||183||284||308||280||181|
|Prior year enrollment of schools that have closed|
— Not available.
1Includes schools that provide nontraditional education, address needs of students that typically cannot be met in regular schools, serve as adjuncts to regular schools, or fall outside the categories of regular, special education, or vocational education.
2Includes schools beginning with grade 6 or below and with no grade higher than 8.
3Includes schools with no grade lower than 7.
4Includes schools beginning with grade 6 or below and ending with grade 9 or above.
5Charter schools are also included under the school level and type categories, as appropriate.
NOTE: This table indicates the school year by which the school no longer operated (generally it closed between that school year and the prior school year). The closure of a school does not necessarily mean that a building is no longer used for educational purposes. A single school may share a building with another school, or one school may be housed in several buildings.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics, 2018 (NCES 2020-009), Table 216.95.
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