Top Guns

What's it like to operate and maintain the largest school systems and college campuses in America? If you ask any of the institutions featured in the latest AS&U 100, you'll probably get just as many different answers.

Now in its fifth year, the AS&U 100 ranks by enrollment the top public school districts and higher-education institutions in the nation. While over the years most of the largest school districts and colleges have made repeat appearances on the list, one thing that continues to change for most is total enrollment. For the majority, enrollment continues to climb, creating increased challenges in management, operations and facilities construction.

As described in this month's cover story, the top 100 public school districts represent less than 1 percent of the more than 14,000 school districts, but account for more than 20 percent of America's public school enrollment.

At the higher-education level, while the institutions appearing on the list remain virtually unchanged from year to year, many are names that may not be top of mind to most when thinking of the largest colleges and universities.

The annual rankings have become a reader favorite over the years, and hopefully you will enjoy the latest installment, which appears on p. 20.

On a separate note, I'd like to welcome Arnie Glassberg, superintendent of San Lorenzo (Calif.) Unified School District, to AS&U's editorial advisory board. The board — composed of professionals in school and university administration, business operations and facility management, as well as education architects — provides guidance and serves as a sounding board for the magazine's editorial staff.

Arnie has extensive experience in new school construction, modernization of older facilities, and creating student/community-driven processes for facility planning. He replaces the recently retired Bruce Husson, whom I wish the best in retirement and thank immensely for his support of and service to the AS&U staff over the years.

SCORECARD

$106 billion

Amount the 100 largest school districts spent in the 2003-04 school year — more than 26 percent of the total spent by all of the nation's more than 14,000 districts.

$62 billion

Amount of outstanding long-term debt (fiscal 2004) of the 100 largest school districts — almost 25 percent of the total long-term debt for the nation's districts.

43

Number of school districts in the top 100 from California, Florida or Texas.

1.1 million

Number of students in New York City public schools — the largest district in the nation.

57,026

Number of students at Miami Dade Community College — the largest college in the nation. University of Phoenix-Online Campus actually has the largest enrollment but is an online institution.

Source: State departments of education; individual school districts; and U.S. Census Bureau.

BE COUNTED

If you have not received your 2006-07 Education Construction Report survey and would like to participate, email [email protected] or call 770-618-0394.

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