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Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the United States: 2003–04
NCES 2006-329
September 2006


This report describes the characteristics of the 100 largest public elementary and secondary school districts in the United States and its jurisdictions. These districts are defined as the 100 largest according to the size of their student population. The information in this report was provided by state education agency officials to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for inclusion in the Common Core of Data (CCD). The report uses data from the 2003–04 school year and includes student membership and staff in public schools and school districts in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the four outlying areas (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).1 This report also includes graduate counts for the 2002–03 school year and revenues and expenditures for fiscal year (FY) 2003.

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 1).
  • The 100 largest public school 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 1).
  • The 100 largest public school districts had larger average school enrollments compared to the average for all school districts (697 vs. 503). In addition to larger school sizes, the 100 largest school districts also had a slightly higher median pupil/teacher ratio than the average school district (15.8 vs. 15.2) (table 1).
  • Three states—California, Florida, and Texas—accounted for 41 percent of the 100 largest public school districts (table D-3).
  • The percentage of students in the 100 largest public school districts who were other than White, non-Hispanic was 70 percent, compared to 43 percent of students in all school districts (table 2).
  • Among schools that reported free and reduced-price lunch eligibility, 47 percent of the students in the 100 largest public school districts were eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, compared to 37 percent of all students in reporting states and jurisdictions (table 2).
  • In FY 2003, current expenditures per pupil in the 100 largest public school districts ranged from a low of $4,413 in Alpine School District, Utah to a high of $17,652 in Newark City, New Jersey (table A-14).


1 Data on school enrollment can be found in the following file: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey," 2002–03, Version 1a.