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Characteristics of the 100 Largest School Districts in the United States: 1999-2000
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The primary source of the nonfiscal data for this report is the 1999-2000 Common Core of Data (CCD). Information was reported to NCES by state education agencies in the spring of 2000. There are three nonfiscal CCD surveys collecting basic descriptive data on public education in the nation: the school (Public School Universe Survey), local education agency (Local Education Agency Universe Survey), and state (State Nonfiscal Survey) forms. Fiscal data are gathered at the state level by NCES in the National Public Education Finance Survey (NPEFS) and at the local level in the Annual Survey of Local Government Finances (F-33 series of the Census of Local Governments) conducted by the Governments Division of the Bureau of the Census. The most recent year for which data are available from the Annual Survey of Local Government Finances is 1998. A CCD coordinator in each state education agency provides all responses. Since the information is supplied by state education agencies, any data item missing for one school district is generally missing for other districts in the same state.

Districts represented in this report are of various physical sizes and geographic locations. Three of the 100 largest districts, District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, are also analogous to states. Some districts comprise a substantial portion of a state's total student membership, while others make up only a small fraction of the state's total student membership.

Response Rates
Notwithstanding the item nonresponse situations cited below, most of these data represent school-district level figures. District-level data were provided by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of Defense schools, and five outlying areas: American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Defense schools and the outlying areas are included in the national totals in this report.

Item Nonresponse

There were some items for which data were not available at the desired levels. The following nonresponse situations in the CCD school and agency universe surveys relate to information presented in this report: no teacher counts for Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Virginia; no data on free and reduced-price lunch eligibility for Arizona, Illinois, Tennessee, and Washington (school universe); no dropout data for California, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas.

National fiscal data were taken from the 1997-98 NPEFS. Fiscal data for Puerto Rico were taken from the 1997-98 NPEFS as well.

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Alternative Education School-A public elementary/secondary school that: 1) addresses needs of students that typically cannot be met in a regular school, 2) provides nontraditional education, 3) serves as an adjunct to a regular school, or 4) falls outside of the categories of regular, special education, or vocational education.

Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and districts-A school or district that is directly funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior.

Charter school-A new CCD data item in the 1998-99 school year. In this first year of collection, this data item was voluntary so not all states reported this data. A charter school is a school which provides free public elementary and/or secondary education to eligible students under a specific charter granted by the state legislature or other appropriate authority, and designated by such authority to be a charter school.

Current expenditures-Funds spent for operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such operating expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay and interest on school debt.

Dropout-The CCD defines dropouts as those students who were enrolled in school at some time during the previous school year; were not enrolled at the beginning of the current school year; have not graduated from high school or completed a state- or district-approved educational program; and do not meet any of the following exclusionary conditions: transfer to another public school district, private school, or state- or district-approved education program; temporary absence due to suspension or school-approved education program; or death.

Federal revenues-Federal revenues include direct grants-in-aid to school or agencies, funds distributed through a state or intermediate agency, and revenues in lieu of taxes to compensate a school district for nontaxable federal institutions within a district's boundary.

Free and reduced-price lunch eligible-Number of students who are eligible for the Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Program under the National School Lunch Act. Any school that reported 100 percent eligible students is adjusted on the CCD files to student population minus 3 for reasons of student confidentiality. Caution should be used when interpreting these data. Four states did not report free and reduced-price lunch eligibility, and others may have included reduced price lunch students or reported participation instead of eligibility data.

Guidance counselors-Professional staff assigned specific duties and school time for counseling students and parents, addressing learning problems, evaluating student abilities, and assisting students on career and personal development.

High School Completers-Students who completed the course of public elementary and secondary education offered by the school district and who received a high school diploma, or who met other requirements of completion as defined by state law or policy during the period September 1998 through August 1999.

Individual Education Program (IEP)-As used here, refers to written instructional plan for students with disabilities designated as special education students under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA-Part B) which includes: 1) statement of present levels of educational performance of a child; 2) statement of annual goals, including short-term instructional objectives; 3) statement of specific educational services to be provided and the extent to which the child will be able to participate in regular educational programs; 4) projected date for initiation and anticipated duration of services; and 5) appropriate objectives, criteria and evaluation procedures and schedules for determining, on at least an annual basis, whether instructional objectives are being achieved.

Instructional expenditures-Current expenditures for activities directly associated with the interaction between teachers and students. These include teacher salaries and benefits, supplies (such as textbooks), and purchased instructional services.

Instructional support staff-Includes instructional coordinators and supervisors and instructional aides.

LEA (district) administrators-Local education agency superintendents, deputy and assistant superintendents, and other persons with district-wide responsibilities such as business manager; and administrative assistants.

Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) Students-A new CCD data item in the 1998-99 school year. In this first year of collection, this data item was voluntary so not all states reported this data. LEP students are defined as individuals who 1) were not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English; or 2) come from environments where a language other than English is dominant; or 3) are American Indians and Alaskan Natives and who come from environments where a language other than English has had a significant impact on their level of English language proficiency; and who, by reason thereof, have sufficient difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language, to deny such individuals the opportunity to learn successfully in classrooms where the language of instruction is English or to participate fully in our society.

Library/media staff-Professional staff members who are assigned specific duties and school time for professional library and media service activities. Includes library/media specialists and support staff.

Local revenues-Include revenues from such sources as local property and nonproperty taxes, investments, and revenues from student activities, textbook sales, transportation and tuition fees, and food service revenues.

Magnet school-A new CCD data item in the 1998-99 school year. In this first year of collection, this data item was voluntary so not all states reported this data. Regardless of the source of funding, a magnet school or program is a special school or program designed to attract students of different racial/ethnic backgrounds for the purpose of reducing, preventing, or eliminating racial isolation and/or to provide an academic or social focus on a particular theme.

Migrant students-A new CCD data item in the 1998-99 school year. In this first year of collection, this data item was voluntary so not all states reported this data. A migrant student as defined under 34 CFR 200.40: 1) (a) Is younger than 22 (and has not graduated from high school or does not hold a high school equivalency certificate), but (b), if the child is too young to attend school-sponsored educational programs, is old enough to benefit from an organized instructional program; and 2) A migrant agricultural worker or a migrant fisher or has a parent, spouse, or guardian who is a migrant agricultural worker or a migrant fisher; and 3) performs, or has a parent, spouse, or guardian who performs, qualifying agricultural or fishing employment as a principal means of livelihood ; and 4) has moved within the preceding 36 months to obtain or to accompany or join a parent, spouse, or guardian to obtain, temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural or fishing work; and 5) has moved from one school district to another; or in a state that is comprised of a single school district, has moved from one administrative area to another within such district; or resides in a school district of more than 15,000 square miles, and migrates a distance of 20 miles or more to a temporary residence to engage in a fishing activity. (Provision 5 currently applies only to Alaska.)

Minority Membership-Includes at least one student of a minority race/ethnicity. These race/ethnicities include: American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Blank, non-Hispanic.

Outlying Areas-Territories of the United States. They include: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Other staff-Includes support staff for local education agencies, schools, student support services and other areas such as data processing, health, transportation, etc.

Per pupil expenditure-Current expenditure for public elementary and secondary education in a state divided by the student membership. The numbers reported here, based on membership, can be expected to be smaller than per pupil expenditures based on average daily attendance because the membership counts are generally larger than average daily attendance.

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Public school-An institution that provides educational services and has the following characteristics:

  •    has one or more grade groups (prekindergarten through grade 12) or is ungraded;
  •    has one or more teachers to give instruction;
  •    is located in one or more buildings or sites;
  •    has an assigned administrator;
  •    receives public funds as primary support;
  •    is operated by an education agency.

Pupil/teacher ratio-The ratio of pupils to teachers in a school district, based on the total number of pupils (student membership) and the total full-time-equivalent (FTE) number of teachers reported in the schools associated with the school district. The pupil/teacher ratio is not a class size but rather a district level measure of pupils and teachers.

Pupils in membership-Count of all students whose names have been entered on the roll, minus those whose names have been withdrawn, on or before the closest school day to October 1. Membership counts at the district level may include students for whom the district is providing educational services through some other agency or institution.

Regular school-A public elementary/secondary school that does not focus primarily on vocational, special, or alternative education. It is possible for a regular school, as it is for a vocational, special, or alternative education school, to have no students in membership.

Regular school district-Agency responsible for providing free public education for school-age children residing within its jurisdiction. This category excludes local supervisory unions that provide management services for a group of associated school districts; regional education service agencies that typically provide school districts with research, testing, and data processing services; state and federally operated school districts; and other agencies that do not fall into these groupings.

Revenues-Additions to assets which do not incur an obligation that must be met at some future date, do not represent exchanges of fixed assets, and are available for expenditure by the local education agencies in the state. Revenues include funds from local, intermediate, state, and federal sources.

School administrators-Staff members whose activities are concerned with directing and managing the operation of a particular school.

Schools having membership-Schools at which students are counted for administrative purposes, even though the students may attend one or more other schools for all or part of their school day.

Special Education School-A public elementary/secondary school that: 1) focuses primarily on special education, including instruction for any of the following: hard of hearing, deaf, speech-impaired, health-impaired, orthopedically impaired, mentally retarded, seriously emotionally disturbed, multi-handicapped, visually handicapped, deaf and blind; and 2) adapts curriculum, materials or instruction for students served.

State revenues-State revenues include both direct funds from state governments and funds in lieu of taxation. Revenues in lieu of taxes are paid to compensate a school district for nontaxable state institutions or facilities within the district's boundary.

Teachers-The total number of classroom teachers for ungraded and all PK-12 graded classes in a school or district, state in full-time-equivalencies (FTE).

Title I school-A new CCD data item in the 1998-99 school year. In this first year of collection, this data item was voluntary so not all states reported this data. A Title I school is a school designated under appropriate state and federal regulations as being high poverty and eligible for participation in programs authorized by Title I of Public Law 103-382.

Title I school-wide-A new CCD data item in the 1998-99 school year. In this first year of collection, this data item was voluntary so not all states reported this data. A program in which all the students in a school are designated under appropriate state and federal regulations as being high poverty and eligible for participation in programs authorized by Title I of Public Law 103-382.

Vocational Education School-A public elementary/secondary school that focuses primarily on vocational education, and provides education and training in one or more semi-skilled or technical operations.

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