Anna Marie Kellen
School: Beacon High School, of New York City Schools, #1 in this year’s ASU 100 Architect: John Ciardullo, P.C., Architects + Planners Photo: Anna Marie Kellen

AS&U 100 2017

Sept. 23, 2017
New York City, the nation’s largest school district, enrolled half a million more students in 2015-16 than the runner up, the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The school district numbers for 2015-16 show the same results they have for as long as records have been kept: The largest public school district in the United States is New York City.

The nation’s largest city had 1,141,232 students in its public schools in 2015-16. That’s a half a million more students than the next largest system, the Los Angeles Unified District.

The top spot is not the only place on the list with no change. The 18 largest districts in 2015-16 were the same as 2014-15—the Prince George’s (Md.) District is the only newcomer to the top 20. It added enough students in 2015-16 to move up two spaces to 19th.

School district enrollment numbers generally reflect the population of the area they serve. The overall population of the 100 largest districts was 77,232,138 in 2015, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, and public school students accounted for 14.28 percent of the population in those districts.

Steadily growing districts often have higher percentages of school children—six Texas district among the 100 largest have enrollments that account for more than 20 percent of their overall population. In the Frisco (Texas) district, among the fastest-growing in the nation, the 2015-16 enrollment of 53,130 accounted for 27.8 percent of the district’s population. 

As a rule, year-to-year enrollment changes are slight. Of the 100 districts, 88 saw increases or decreases of less than 2 percent. Sixty-seven reported increases, and 33 reported decreases.

The school system on the list with the greatest decrease in enrollment is the Shelby County (Tenn.) district, which has seen shifting numbers in recent years as it absorbed the much larger Memphis school system, then saw several suburban municipalities withdraw and form their own districts.

The 2015-16 enrollment in Shelby County was 112,085, down from 149,832 in 2013-14 and close to the 110,952 that the Memphis district reported in 2011-12.

In 2015-16, all but three of the 100 largest districts were on the 2014-15 list; those who made (rejoined, actually) the 100 largest: Oakland, Washington, D.C., and Portland. They supplanted the Anchorage, Tucson and Brownsville districts.

Texas has the most districts among the 100 largest—20. Florida has 14 districts among the top 100, but because the state has countywide school systems, they tend to be larger. Of the 14 Florida districts on the list, seven of them have more than 100,000 students, and four of them have more than 200,000.

The 14 Florida districts accounted for 1,989,277 students in 2015-16, compared with 1,603,572 students in the 20 Texas districts among the 100 largest.

Overall, the 100 largest districts accounted for 11,090,701 students in 2015-16—about 59,000 more than those districts had enrolled the previous year. 

The enrollment figures for 2015-16 and 2014-15 come from data compiled by state departments of education or individual school districts. The numbers may vary slightly from the numbers subsequently included in the National Center for Education Statistics.

RANKDISTRICTSTATE2015-16 ENROLLMENT2014-15 ENROLLMENT% CHANGEESTIMATED DISTRICT POPULATION 2015Percentage of population enrolled in district 1New York CityNY1,141,2321,122,7831.64%8,550,40513.35% 2Los AngelesCA639,337646,683-1.14%4,703,86413.59% 3ChicagoIL391,961397,138-1.30%2,718,00014.42% 4Miami DadeFL357,579356,9640.17%2,693,11713.28% 5Clark CountyNV319,712318,0400.53%2,114,80115.12% 6Broward CountyFL269,098266,2551.07%1,896,42514.19% 7HoustonTX214,891215,225-0.16%1,512,22114.21% 8Hillsborough CountyFL211,923207,4692.15%1,349,05015.71% 9Orange CountyFL200,667191,6484.71%1,288,12615.58% 10Palm Beach CountyFL189,322186,6051.46%1,422,78913.31% 11Fairfax CountyVA185,831185,5410.16%1,142,23416.27% 12HawaiiHI180,409180,895-0.27%1,431,60312.60% 13Gwinnett CountyGA176,052173,2461.62%882,97919.94% 14DallasTX158,495160,253-1.10%1,101,41214.39% 15Wake CountyNC156,644155,0001.06%1,024,19815.29% 16Montgomery CountyMD156,380154,4341.26%1,040,11615.03% 17Charlotte-Mecklenburg CountyNC145,952145,2020.52%1,034,07014.11% 18PhiladelphiaPA134,975134,2410.55%1,567,4428.61% 19Prince George's CountyMD129,936127,5761.85%909,53514.29% 20San DiegoCA129,380129,779-0.31%1,082,62811.95% 21Duval CountyFL129,192128,6850.39%913,01014.15% 22Cypress FairbanksTX113,656113,0230.56%550,75020.64% 23Cobb CountyGA112,708111,7510.86%680,32216.57% 24Shelby CountyTN112,085116,059-3.42%753,47214.88% 25Baltimore CountyMD111,138109,8301.19%831,12813.37% 26NorthsideTX104,437103,6060.80%571,17418.28% 27Pinellas CountyFL103,495103,774-0.27%949,82710.90% 28Polk CountyFL101,63599,7231.92%650,09215.63% 29DeKalb CountyGA101,389101,1030.28%683,41514.84% 30Jefferson CountyKY100,319100,1060.21%763,62313.14% 31Fulton CountyGA95,64195,4600.19%580,66416.47% 32Lee CountyFL91,30989,3642.18%701,98213.01% 33AlbuquerqueNM90,56692,215-1.79%681,97413.28% 34DenverCO90,23488,8391.57%682,54513.22% 35Prince William CountyVA87,79386,6411.33%446,17919.68% 36Fort WorthTX86,86985,9751.04%511,27116.99% 37Jefferson CountyCO86,70886,5470.19%568,87015.24% 38Metro NashvilleTN85,12284,0701.25%678,88912.54% 39Baltimore CityMD83,66684,976-1.54%621,84913.45% 40AustinTX83,27084,564-1.53%730,97511.39% 41Anne Arundel CountyMD80,38779,5181.09%564,19514.25% 42Greenville CountySC76,28575,5081.03%507,17215.04% 43Long BeachCA77,81279,709-2.38%529,23314.70% 44Loudoun CountyVA76,22873,4183.83%375,62920.29% 45MilwaukeeWI75,74977,316-2.03%601,05012.60% 46AlpineUT75,30773,5702.36%317,02723.75% 47FresnoCA73,46073,743-0.38%400,53918.34% 48Fort BendTX72,91072,1521.05%426,78017.08% 49KatyTX72,72570,3303.41%293,94624.74% 50Brevard CountyFL72,70472,2850.58%568,08812.80% 51Guilford CountyNC71,68171,939-0.36%517,60013.85% 52AldineTX70,27769,7160.80%292,94223.99% 53Pasco CountyFL70,56669,2951.83%497,90914.17% 54DavisUT69,87969,1391.07%336,04320.79% 55Virginia BeachVA69,77770,121-0.49%452,74515.41% 56GraniteUT67,82267,6600.24%413,11216.42% 57Douglas CountyCO66,89666,7020.29%324,80820.60% 58North EastTX67,50167,971-0.69%438,22015.40% 59Seminole CountyFL66,96666,1341.26%449,14414.91% 60MesaAZ65,04964,5320.80%495,48113.13% 61Washoe CountyNV63,67063,1080.89%446,90314.25% 62ArlingtonTX63,16763,882-1.12%373,34716.92% 63Volusia CountyFL62,92861,7771.86%517,88712.15% 64Elk GroveCA62,76762,888-0.19%331,10218.96% 65Osceola CountyFL61,89361,7770.19%323,99319.10% 66Knox CountyTN60,30859,7500.93%451,32413.36% 67El PasoTX59,77260,852-1.77%341,37017.51% 68Chesterfield CountyVA59,65959,725-0.11%335,68717.77% 69San FranciscoCA58,86558,4140.77%864,8166.81% 70ConroeTX58,01456,3632.93%304,93919.02% 71Mobile CountyAL57,58157,910-0.57%389,35314.79% 72GarlandTX57,41857,436-0.03%298,84719.21% 73Santa AnaCA55,90956,815-1.59%268,67220.81% 74PasadenaTX55,89355,5770.57%270,22320.68% 75Howard CountyMD54,87053,6852.21%313,41417.51% 76Cherry CreekCO54,69554,4990.36%301,76618.12% 77PlanoTX54,32254,689-0.67%378,68814.34% 78Winston-Salem/Forsyth CountyNC54,27854,0490.42%369,01914.71% 79Clayton CountyGA54,13653,3671.44%273,95519.76% 80CapistranoCA53,87854,036-0.29%361,15414.92% 81BostonMA53,53054,312-1.44%665,6078.04% 82LewisvilleTX53,39653,3560.07%315,50716.92% 83Corona-NorcoCA53,35453,739-0.72%276,19519.32% 84SeattleWA53,31752,9420.71%668,1207.98% 85San BernardinoCA53,30353,365-0.12%263,23820.25% 86FriscoTX53,13049,6447.02%190,83127.84% 87San AntonioTX53,03553,750-1.33%341,01715.55% 88JordanUT52,32451,8061.00%236,55922.12% 89OmahaNE51,96651,9280.07%368,98914.08% 90Henrico CountyVA51,53450,9711.10%325,15515.85% 91AtlantaGA51,50051,1450.69%460,50411.18% 92WichitaKS50,98851,026-0.07%335,21415.21% 93Cumberland CountyNC50,48550,796-0.61%301,89816.72% 94KleinTX50,39449,4022.01%241,57220.86% 95San JuanCA49,56449,1140.92%339,82914.58% 96ColumbusOH49,21250,149-1.87%539,6639.12% 97OaklandCA49,09848,0772.12%424,10011.58% 98Jefferson ParishLA48,73748,1261.27%436,27511.17% 99Washington DCDC48,43947,5481.87%672,2287.21% 100PortlandOR48,38347,6471.54%494,5099.78% 101AnchorageAK48,37048,1540.45%298,69516.19% 102Manatee CountyFL48,35647,8830.99%363,36913.31% 103TucsonAZ48,31049,012-1.43%487,0249.92% 104CharlestonSC48,14746,9162.62%389,26212.37% 105BrownsvilleTX47,66948,355-1.42%197,16924.18% 106Round RockTX47,65347,2510.85%277,19117.19% 107AliefTX47,22747,2020.05%284,51316.60% 108DetroitMI46,91247,959-2.18%689,9116.80% 109SacramentoCA46,84346,868-0.05%343,43413.64% 110Collier CountyFL45,99445,2281.69%357,30512.87% 111Oklahoma CityOK45,57745,2970.62%309,16614.74% 112Garden GroveCA45,25246,177-2.00%289,16815.65% 113SocorroTX45,12644,5611.27%187,96724.01% 114Hamilton CountyTN44,41443,7971.41%354,09812.54% 115Forsyth CountyGA44,28642,4354.36%212,43820.85% 116UnitedTX43,59743,4210.41%168,86925.82% 117ChandlerAZ43,42842,6641.79%241,06618.01% 118Horry CountySC43,30642,2232.56%309,19914.01% 119KilleenTX43,20442,6831.22%209,86020.59% 120Rutherford CountyTN43,09041,9012.84%298,61214.43% 121Marion CountyFL42,78642,5170.63%343,25412.46% 122Lake CountyFL42,46242,1520.74%325,87513.03% 123RiversideCA42,46242,3390.29%264,66916.04% 124Sarasota CountyFL42,36841,9121.09%405,54910.45% 125Adams-Arapahoe 28JCO42,24941,7291.25%288,16614.66% 126YsletaTX42,23242,488-0.60%201,40320.97% 127East Baton RougeLA42,04042,618-1.36%382,32311.00% 128Union CountyNC41,95441,3761.40%222,74218.84% 129ClovisCA41,88341,1691.73%198,76721.07% 130Henry CountyGA41,82041,2771.32%217,73919.21% 131Cherokee CountyGA41,29140,6661.54%235,90017.50% 132Fayette CountyKY41,16140,6731.20%314,48813.09% 133Salem-KeizerOR41,10040,6980.99%254,45516.15% 134Clear CreekTX41,06140,8120.61%233,13517.61% 135Sweetwater UnionCA41,05041,0180.08%485,1028.46% 136TulsaOK40,86741,043-0.43%301,39913.56% 137Caddo ParishLA40,72041,146-1.04%251,46016.19% 138MesquiteTX40,71840,2731.10%181,05822.49% 139Escambia CountyFL40,65540,735-0.20%311,00313.07% 140Frederick CountyMD40,65540,782-0.31%245,32216.57% 141BeavertonOR40,56839,7632.02%276,56214.67% 142HumbleTX40,42739,5222.29%185,58021.78% 143StocktonCA40,32440,0570.67%210,48619.16% 144St. Lucie CountyFL40,04540,074-0.07%298,56313.41% 145Chesapeake CityVA39,94339,7070.59%235,42916.97% 146LincolnNE39,84239,0342.07%281,24914.17% 147Elgin U-46IL39,78840,221-1.08%235,61016.89% 148Adams 12 Five StarCO39,28738,7011.51%234,90316.72% 149FontanaCA38,74239,470-1.84%184,62720.98% 150RichardsonTX38,67138,6180.14%232,72316.62% 151Corpus ChristiTX38,52138,772-0.65%248,74915.49% 152St. Tammany ParishLA38,43938,1930.64%250,08815.37% 153Chatham CountyGA38,32338,1230.52%286,95613.36% 154ClevelandOH38,09839,083-2.52%391,3919.73% 155Kern HighCA38,07037,3182.02%626,5726.08% 156Anoka-HennepinMN38,01637,8530.43%234,98316.18% 157MeridianID37,75637,7560.00%204,23818.49% 158St. PaulMN37,64637,865-0.58%301,59312.48% 159Harford CountyMD37,44837,536-0.23%250,29014.96% 160PeoriaAZ37,16437,0690.26%227,09016.37% 161LeanderTX37,06836,2112.37%173,62021.35% 162SpringTX36,81336,950-0.37%185,18919.88% 163Williamson CountyTN36,81335,5783.47%211,67217.39% 164MinneapolisMN36,64536,4040.66%406,0869.02% 165Clay CountyFL36,63835,8352.24%203,96717.96% 166St. Johns CountyFL36,59335,2683.76%226,64016.15% 167Jefferson CountyAL36,09236,0030.25%230,91415.63% 168NewarkNJ36,03432,09812.26%281,87812.78% 169GilbertAZ35,98737,240-3.36%201,36917.87% 170PowayCA35,77135,2691.42%200,66517.83% 171Spring BranchTX35,24635,1100.39%191,17918.44% 172IrvingTX34,87235,191-0.91%184,35818.92% 173FremontCA34,85234,2081.88%232,21615.01% 174Deer ValleyAZ34,81534,3651.31%260,99513.34% 175Johnston CountyNC34,59634,3370.75%185,66018.63% 176EdinburgTX34,44634,2850.47%148,98423.12% 177KellerTX34,09933,6191.43%165,08820.66% 178Moreno ValleyCA33,94234,170-0.67%180,65118.79% 179CanyonsUT33,89933,6760.66%219,59415.44% 180MansfieldTX33,73833,4100.98%153,67821.95% 181Leon CountyFL33,73633,6810.16%286,27211.78% 182Des MoinesIA33,56532,3963.61%222,03415.12% 183DurhamNC33,50133,626-0.37%300,95211.13% 184Berkeley CountySC33,32632,5692.32%202,78616.43% 185AmarilloTX33,18933,576-1.15%175,52618.91% 186DeSoto CountyMS33,14033,275-0.41%173,32319.12% 187Paradise ValleyAZ32,80832,7320.23%261,90212.53% 188Calcasieu ParishLA32,74932,5950.47%198,78816.47% 189Pharr-San Juan-alamoTX32,59332,2880.94%131,64024.76% 190Clarksville-Montgomery CountyTN32,58832,0561.66%186,55517.47% 191San JoseCA32,45432,938-1.47%270,38112.00% 192Irvine UnifiedCA32,31931,3922.95%196,03816.49% 193San Ramon ValleyCA32,25531,9540.94%154,05920.94% 194Norfolk CityVA32,14932,290-0.44%246,39313.05% 195Mount DiabloCA32,00531,9130.29%269,25511.89% 196CincinnatiOH31,91332,690-2.38%332,3199.60% 197Muscogee CountyGA31,89932,312-1.28%200,57915.90% 198NeboUT31,89531,3931.60%133,21923.94% 199St. Vrain ValleyCO31,77631,0762.25%166,65319.07% 200Gaston CountyNC31,55531,4020.49%213,44214.78%total14,976,48814,891,0140.57%103,128,48414.52%100 largest 15-1611,090,701100 largest 14-1511,031,488

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