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Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the United States: 2002-03
NCES 2005-312
August 2005


The information provided in this publication was reported by state education agency officials to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the Common Core of Data (CCD). Data are for the 2002–03 school year. Data are reported for the student membership and staff in public schools and school districts in the United States and jurisdictions (Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Defense schools, and five outlying areas: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). This report includes graduate and dropout counts for the 2001–02 school year, and revenues and expenditures for fiscal year (FY) 2001.

Highlights of the report include the following:

  • The 100 largest public school districts, representing less than 1 percent (0.6 percent) of all school districts in the United States and jurisdictions, were responsible for the education of 23 percent of all public school students (table A).
  • The 100 largest districts employed 22 percent of the United States and jurisdictions public school teachers, and contained 17 percent of all public schools and 20 percent of public high school completers (table A).
  • The 100 largest school districts had larger average school enrollments than all school districts as a whole (an average of 695 students compared to 502, respectively). In addition to larger school sizes, the 100 largest school districts also had a higher median pupil/teacher ratio, 16.9 compared to 15.9 for the average school district (table A).
  • Three states, California, Florida, and Texas, accounted for 40 percent of the 100 largest school districts (appendix C).
  • The percentage of students who were other than White, non-Hispanic in the 100 largest school districts was 69 percent, compared to 42 percent in all school districts (table B).
  • Among schools that reported free and reduced-price lunch eligibility, 46 percent of the students in the 100 largest school districts were eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, compared to 37 percent of all students in reporting states and jurisdictions (table B).
  • In FY 2002, current expenditures per pupil in the 100 largest school districts ranged from a low of $3,563 in the Puerto Rico Department of Education to a high of $14,012 in the Boston School District, Massachusetts (table 17).

This is the 14th and current publication in the series of reports on the largest school districts in the nation. Copies of this report and other CCD products are available from the Institute of Education Sciences by calling, toll-free, 1-877-4ED-PUBS or on the CCD website.