Those who keep track of school enrollment trends won't be surprised to learn that the Clark County (Nev.) district reported another sizable increase from 2005-06 to 2006-07. It surpassed 305,000 students — 12,000 more than the previous year.

But what might surprise people is that in 2006-07, Clark County was the only one of the nation's 13 largest school systems to report an enrollment increase of any kind.

The downward enrollment trend shown in this year's AS&U 100 — a compilation of the nation's 100 largest school districts — is unmistakable. Added together, the 100 largest districts had 10,708,137 students in 2006-07, compared with 10,763,959 in 2005-06. Even districts that showed steady growth throughout the 1990s and the early part of this decade are dealing with stagnant or declining enrollment.

Twenty of the top 25, 33 of the top 50, and 57 of the top 100 districts reported fewer students in 2006-07 than the year before. On a percentage basis, the systems with the most significant enrollment decline were Detroit, whose numbers dropped by 10.60 percent, and Cleveland, which fell by 11.44 percent.

Two growing districts cracked the ranks of the 100 largest in 2006-07. The Loudoun County (Va.) district on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., was the 85th-largest district with 50,416 students. The Lewisville (Texas) district joined the list as the 95th-largest district with 47,317 students. Dropping off the list were the Oakland (Calif.) and Alief (Texas) districts.

Ten-year enrollment patterns show greater fluctuations in the list. Districts that were among the 100 largest in 2006-07 that have dropped off the list: St. Paul, Minn.; Indianapolis; St. Louis; Newark, N.J.; Escambia County, Fla.; Shelby County, Tenn.; Ysleta, Texas; Seattle; Buffalo, N.Y.; Minneapolis; Caddo Parish, La.; Cincinnati; Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Jefferson Parish, La., and Orleans Parish, La. Of districts on the 2006-07 list, Detroit experienced the greatest 10-year decline: a loss of 65,000 students, or 35 percent.

The fastest growers from 1996 to 2006 were Loudoun County and Douglas County, Colo., each of which more than doubled. Clark County's 70 percent increase over 10 years represents an additional 126,000 students.

The 100 largest districts in 2006-07 had an overall population in 2005 of more than 70.2 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. On average, school district enrollment accounted for 15.25 percent of the overall population, ranging from a high of 32.23 percent in the Katy (Texas) district to a low of 7.58 percent in the San Francisco district.

In addition to Clark County, larger districts that bucked the no-growth trend in 2006-07 included Gwinnett County, Ga., which added more than 7,000 students and became the 16th district with more than 150,000 students. In North Carolina, the Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg County districts each added more than 7,000 students.

With the addition of Lewisville and the subtraction of the Alief district, Texas still has 18 districts on the list, the most of any state. Florida, with countywide districts, has 14 districts among the 100 largest, but of the seven in the state with enrollments greater than 100,000, every one lost enrollment in 2006-07. Of the 13 districts from California on the list, 10 reported fewer students in 2006-07.

In higher education, the online behemoth University of Phoenix, without the facility constraints that can put a ceiling on quick growth, continues to hold the top spot as the institution with the most students. In 2006-07, it had 224,880 students enrolled, an increase of 91 percent from the previous year.

The AS&U 100 has been published every September since 2002, and most years the enrollment data has come from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (2006). However, the center reports that its compilation of 2006-07 data has been delayed because of several factors.

In its place, the chart published with this article uses enrollment data for 2006-07 and 2005-06 that was collected from education departments in the various states or from individual districts. In general, the enrollment numbers generated at the state and local level are close, but not identical, to the ones that eventually will come from the federal government.

Enrollment data from the 1990s and 1980s come from the NCES, as do the 2006-07 higher-education enrollment numbers. The per-pupil expenditure figures and population estimates come from U.S. Census Bureau reports.

Rank School District State District population estimate 2005 Enroll. 2006-07 % of population enrolled in public school 2006-07 Per-pupil spending 2005-06 Enroll. 2005-06 1-yr % change Enroll. 1996-97 10-yr % change Enroll. 1986-87 20-yr % change
1 New York City NY 8,213,839 1,003,090 12.21% $14,961 1,012,033 -0.88% 1,063,561 -5.69% 938,473 6.44%
2 Los Angeles CA 4,614,590 707,626 15.33% $9,570 727,319 -2.71% 667,305 6.04% 589,099 16.75%
3 Chicago IL 2,856,872 401,738 14.06% $9,282 410,874 -2.22% 469,098 -14.36% 431,298 -7.36%
4 Miami FL 2,377,725 353,783 14.88% $8,502 362,033 -2.28% 341,117 3.71% 243,537 31.16%
5 Clark County NV 1,709,364 305,967 17.90% $7,092 293,781 4.15% 179,106 70.83% 95,145 68.90%
6 Broward County FL 1,782,016 262,726 14.74% $7,791 271,470 -3.22% 218,608 20.18% 131,726 49.86%
7 Houston TX 1,394,432 202,499 14.52% $7,472 209,879 -3.52% 209,375 -3.28% 194,389 4.00%
8 Hillsborough County FL 1,131,542 193,480 17.10% $7,068 193,669 -0.10% 147,826 30.88% 115,342 40.39%
9 Hawaii HI 1,273,278 179,234 14.08% $9,640 181,355 -1.17% 187,653 -4.49% 161,302 10.00%
10 Philadelphia PA 1,456,350 177,431 12.18% $8,958 184,560 -3.86% 212,150 -16.37% 197,843 -11.50%
11 Orange County FL 1,021,884 175,155 17.14% $7,388 175,307 -0.09% 129,143 35.63% 84,125 51.97%
12 Palm Beach County FL 1,264,956 171,429 13.55% $8,345 174,911 -1.99% 137,585 24.60% 84,680 50.60%
13 Fairfax County VA 1,010,015 163,962 16.23% $11,909 163,768 0.12% 143,266 14.45% 126,183 23.04%
14 Dallas TX 1,025,989 158,814 15.48% $7,821 160,969 -1.34% 154,847 2.56% 132,389 16.64%
15 Gwinnett County GA 713,678 151,421 21.22% $8,334 143,980 5.17% 88,855 70.41% 50,906 66.38%
16 Montgomery County MD 927,405 137,814 14.86% $12,859 139,398 -1.14% 122,505 12.50% 94,457 31.46%
17 San Diego CA 1,029,159 131,034 12.73% $9,003 132,482 -1.09% 133,687 -1.98% 115,441 11.90%
18 Prince George's County MD 842,764 131,014 15.55% $10,221 133,325 -1.73% 125,198 4.65% 103,301 21.15%
19 Charlotte-Mecklenburg NC 796,369 129,009 16.20% $7,723 123,789 4.22% 93,533 37.93% 73,360 43.14%
20 Wake County NC 750,865 128,072 17.06% $7,333 120,504 6.28% 85,735 49.38% 58,202 54.56%
21 Duval County FL 826,791 125,171 15.14% $7,633 126,535 -1.08% 126,118 -0.75% 102,966 17.74%
22 Memphis TN 689,239 123,972 17.99% $7,719 125,553 -1.26% 111,156 11.53% 108,300 12.64%
23 Detroit MI 918,852 117,568 12.80% $10,576 131,639 -10.69% 182,316 -35.51% 189,269 -60.99%
24 Pinellas County FL 926,810 109,880 11.86% $7,870 112,127 -2.00% 107,060 2.63% 88,934 19.06%
25 Cobb County GA 597,783 106,103 17.75% $8,061 105,526 0.55% 86,765 22.29% 62,357 41.23%
26 Baltimore County MD 783,405 105,839 13.51% $10,327 107,043 -1.12% 104,073 1.70% 80,259 24.17%
27 DeKalb County GA 662,145 98,713 14.91% $9,965 99,544 -0.83% 90,311 9.30% 73,040 26.01%
28 Jefferson County KY 696,703 97,915 14.05% $8,741 97,518 0.41% 91,878 6.57% 92,940 5.08%
29 Albuquerque NM 609,255 95,256 15.63% $7,486 93,690 1.67% 89,092 6.92% 79,922 16.10%
30 Polk County FL 541,910 92,873 17.14% $7,891 89,483 3.79% 74,808 24.15% 59,352 36.09%
31 Cypress-Fairbanks TX 326,811 91,889 28.12% $6,635 86,100 6.72% 52,930 73.60% 33,104 63.97%
32 Long Beach CA 529,521 90,663 17.12% $8,100 93,589 -3.13% 83,038 9.18% 65,052 28.25%
33 Milwaukee WI 583,372 89,912 15.41% $11,277 92,395 -2.69% 101,007 -10.98% 90,657 -0.83%
34 Jefferson County CO 526,719 86,154 16.36% $8,313 86,339 -0.21% 86,670 -0.60% 75,745 12.08%
35 Baltimore City MD 636,377 82,381 12.95% $10,910 85,468 -3.61% 108,759 -24.25% 111,243 -35.03%
36 Fulton County GA 491,667 81,982 16.67% $9,138 79,192 3.52% 59,953 36.74% 38,855 52.61%
37 Austin TX 626,993 81,917 13.07% $8,141 81,003 1.13% 76,054 7.71% 60,891 25.67%
38 Northside (San Antonio) TX 383,504 81,861 21.35% $6,833 78,154 4.74% 59,284 38.08% 44,776 45.30%
39 Fort Worth TX 506,365 79,369 15.67% $7,679 80,208 -1.05% 75,813 4.69% 68,045 14.27%
40 Lee County FL 544,196 78,980 14.51% $7,399 75,579 4.50% 52,317 50.96% 35,309 55.29%
41 Jordan UT 348,724 78,708 22.57% $4,960 77,369 1.73% 72,748 8.19% 61,022 22.47%
42 Nashville TN 574,395 78,607 13.69% $8,303 79,297 -0.87% 69,888 12.48% 66,528 15.37%
43 Fresno CA 400,964 77,555 19.34% $8,049 79,046 -1.89% 78,470 -1.17% 58,969 23.96%
44 Brevard County FL 528,640 74,791 14.15% $7,297 75,160 -0.49% 66,663 12.19% 48,154 35.62%
45 Mesa AZ 518,263 74,068 14.29% $6,497 74,626 -0.75% 70,181 5.54% 56,018 24.37%
46 Anne Arundel County MD 509,397 73,066 14.34% $10,064 73,565 -0.68% 72,322 1.03% 64,006 12.40%
47 Denver CO 558,663 72,561 12.99% $9,728 72,312 0.34% 66,331 9.39% 60,315 16.88%
48 Virginia Beach VA 437,021 72,543 16.60% $8,839 74,313 -2.38% 76,677 -5.39% 55,989 22.82%
49 Prince William County VA 340,568 70,948 20.83% $9,253 68,462 3.63% 48,333 46.79% 37,600 47.00%
50 Guilford County NC 443,539 70,380 15.87% $7,632 68,797 2.30% 58,736 19.82% 23,925 66.01%
51 Granite UT 368,677 68,483 18.58% $5,202 69,048 -0.82% 76,456 -10.43% 68,203 0.41%
52 Fort Bend TX 308,773 66,792 21.63% $6,638 65,927 1.31% 46,881 42.47% 27,294 59.14%
53 Seminole County FL 401,291 66,349 16.53% $7,059 67,473 -1.67% 55,972 18.54% 41,626 37.26%
54 Greenville SC 421,355 66,237 15.72% $6,929 64,315 2.99% 55,893 18.51% 50,590 23.62%
55 Volusia County FL 487,875 65,967 13.52% $7,628 65,599 0.56% 58,004 13.73% 40,169 39.11%
56 Washoe County NV 389,775 65,013 16.68% $7,286 64,125 1.38% 49,671 30.89% 33,705 48.16%
57 Pasco County FL 430,053 64,688 15.04% $7,266 62,768 3.06% 43,461 48.84% 29,347 54.63%
58 Mobile AL 399,851 64,178 16.05% $7,590 64,721 -0.84% 64,833 -1.01% 67,824 -5.68%
59 Davis UT 268,084 62,832 23.44% $5,266 62,456 0.60% 59,220 6.10% 49,061 21.92%
60 Arlington TX 366,229 62,830 17.16% $6,833 63,308 -0.76% 53,343 17.78% 40,620 35.35%
61 El Paso TX 327,028 62,635 19.15% $7,582 63,674 -1.63% 64,444 -2.81% 61,616 1.63%
62 Elk Grove CA 233,683 61,881 26.48% $7,652 60,735 1.89% 37,787 63.76% 18,222 70.55%
63 North East (San Antonio) TX 344,086 61,003 17.73% $7,340 59,556 2.43% 45,184 35.01% 38,062 37.61%
64 Tucson AZ 486,891 60,411 12.41% $7,410 60,557 -0.24% 62,867 -3.91% 55,235 8.57%
65 Aldine TX 242,684 58,596 24.14% $7,680 57,931 1.15% 47,242 24.03% 38,107 34.97%
66 Chesterfield County VA 288,243 58,455 20.28% $7,655 57,239 2.12% 49,781 17.42% 38,776 33.67%
67 Washington, D.C. DC 582,049 57,741 9.92% $13,446 59,616 -3.15% 78,648 -26.58% 85,612 -48.27%
68 San Bernardino CA 257,911 57,397 22.25% $8,386 58,661 -2.15% 46,309 23.94% 33,454 41.71%
69 Santa Ana CA 276,042 57,346 20.77% $8,069 59,310 -3.31% 52,107 10.05% 37,415 34.76%
70 Knox County TN 405,355 56,535 13.95% $6,854 56,851 -0.56% 51,224 10.37% 26,485 53.15%2
71 Garland TX 257,932 56,459 21.89% $6,490 56,955 -0.87% 44,869 25.83% 34,288 39.27%
72 Boston MA 590,987 56,388 9.54% $17,421 57,349 -1.68% 63,239 -10.83% 60,704 -7.65%
73 San Francisco CA 741,025 56,183 7.58% $8,215 56,236 -0.09% 61,174 -8.16% 64,786 -15.31%
74 Alpine UT 223,538 56,051 25.07% $4,918 54,773 2.33% 43,719 28.21% 31,153 44.42%
75 San Antonio TX 344,619 55,322 16.05% $8,272 56,371 -1.86% 61,361 -9.84% 61,084 -10.42%
76 Columbus OH 491,744 53,674 10.92% $11,457 59,141 -9.24% 63,894 -16.00% 66,029 -23.02%
77 Cumberland County NC 267,740 53,079 19.82% $7,110 52,439 1.22% 51,035 4.01% 43,783 17.51%
78 Cleveland OH 457,659 52,769 11.53% $11,073 59,586 -11.44% 74,026 -28.72% 72,041 -36.52%
79 Plano TX 384,112 52,753 13.73% $7,264 53,007 -0.48% 40,864 29.09% 28,101 46.73%
80 Osceola County FL 231,482 51,881 22.41% $7,065 49,779 4.22% 27,376 89.51% 13,133 74.69%
81 Clayton County GA 266,614 51,815 19.43% $8,461 51,948 -0.26% 41,658 24.38% 32,538 37.20%
82 Capistrano CA 313,067 51,512 16.45% $7,108 51,245 0.52% 37,539 37.22% 20,588 60.03%
83 Katy TX 157,396 50,725 32.23% $7,087 47,808 6.10% 26,597 90.72% 15,832 68.79%
84 Forsyth County NC 325,726 50,708 15.57% $7,762 49,599 2.24% 41,851 21.16% 38,857 23.37%
85 Loudoun County VA 256,417 50,416 19.66% $11,484 47,326 6.53% 21,574 133.69% 13,236 73.75%
86 Douglas County CO 251,464 50,370 20.03% 7,793 48,043 4.84% 24,495 105.63% 9,693 80.76%
87 Corono-Norco CA 214,754 49,865 23.22% $7,188 47,510 4.96% 29,528 68.87% 17,558 64.79%
88 Atlanta GA 474,665 49,773 10.49% $12,435 49,965 -0.38% 60,064 -17.13% 66,069 -32.74%
89 Cherry Creek CO 228,185 49,684 21.77% $7,843 48,661 2.10% 37,128 33.82% 26,459 46.75%
90 Pasadena TX 231,693 49,630 21.42% $7,124 49,047 1.19% 40,512 22.51% 35,097 29.28%
91 Sacramento CA 367,126 49,355 13.44% $8,878 50,408 -2.09% 51,240 -3.68% 45,893 7.01%
92 Anchorage AK 275,474 49,230 17.87% $9,663 49,714 -0.97% 48,109 2.33% 39,175 20.42%
93 East Baton Rouge LA 380,102 49,145 12.93% $8,493 49,945 -1.60% 61,499 -20.09% 57,523 -17.05%
94 Howard County MD 269,174 49,048 18.22% $11,703 48,596 0.93% 38,857 26.23% 25,629 47.75%
95 Lewisville TX 256,707 48,890 19.05% $7,341 47,317 3.32% 30,243 61.66% 16,809 65.62%
96 Garden Grove CA 283,485 48,798 17.21% $7,984 49,574 -1.57% 44,661 9.26% 36,395 25.42%
97 Wichita KS 326,269 48,496 14.86% $8,600 48,451 0.09% 46,391 4.54% 44,919 7.38%
98 Brownsville TX 177,978 48,284 27.13% $7,848 48,186 0.20% 40,494 19.24% 33,966 29.65%
99 San Juan CA 364,537 47,862 13.13% $7,824 48,325 -0.96% 47,819 0.09% 45,791 4.33%
100 Henrico County VA 280,599 47,680 16.99% $7,624 47,747 -0.14% 38,102 25.14% 30,946 35.10%
  TOTAL   70,239,889 10,708,137 15.25%   10,763,959 -0.52%     8,124,238 24.13%
Sources: State departments of education, individual districts, U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Education Statistics

Feeding the beast

The three largest school districts in the nation's largest state all experienced enrollment declines in 2006-07. The numbers are smaller, but there still are plenty of students. Together, the Los Angeles, San Diego and Long Beach districts accounted for more than 929,000 students, and providing adequate facilities for them is a pricey proposition.

The three California systems have something else in common: In November, each of them will be asking voters to approve bond issues in excess of $1 billion.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, billion-dollar bond proposals have become old-hat. Voters approved four ballot questions in eight years: a $2.4 billion package in November 1997; a $3.35 billion package in November 2002; a $3.8 billion request in March 2004; and a $3.985 billion proposal in November 2005.

But district officials say it still has $60 billion in capital-improvement needs. So they are going back to voters to seek approval of a $7 billion package. District officials say the bonds would enable the district to address repair and safety needs, improve technology, create smaller schools, and incorporate more green approaches into facilities management.

In San Diego, voters will determine the fate of a $2.1 billion proposal. The measure comes 10 years after district voters approved a $1.51 billion bond package. That program paid for repairs at 161 schools, construction of 12 new schools and the rebuilding of three schools.

The bond this fall seeks funds to repair outdated student restrooms, plumbing and roofs; upgrade classroom technology; improve school safety and security; replace outdated portable classrooms; and make other improvements.

The Long Beach Unified District decided to put a $1.2 billion proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot after a comprehensive facilities study. The analysis determined that major renovations are needed at 38 percent of schools, and moderate renovations at 36 percent. Eighty percent of the school district's buildings were constructed before 1970.

The bonds would enable Long Beach to retrofit schools for earthquake safety and handicap accessibility; improve energy efficiency; reduce crowding; and make other improvements.

Splitsville, Utah

The Jordan school system, the largest in Utah, is nestled comfortably at No. 41 on the list of the 100 largest districts. But not for long. In a couple of years, it is likely to disappear from the list.

That's because residents on the east side of the district voted last year to pull out and form a separate school system. Proponents of the split argued that too many resources were going to west-side communities and that east-side issues were not given sufficient attention.

The split officially occurs in 2009. The remaining Jordan district will serve the communities of Bluffdale, Herriman, Riverton, South Jordan and West Jordan, and is expected to have a student enrollment of around 45,000. The new, east-side district will serve Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy, Alta and unincorporated Salt Lake County, and is expected to have about 35,000 students.

While some 80,000 students continue to fill the classrooms of Jordan's 90-plus schools, the grown-ups are trying to work out the messy details of the break-up. Some things have gone smoothly — the new district has hired an assistant state education commissioner as superintendent, and a new school board has been elected.

But financial issues have yet to be resolved. The split will give the east-side district 43 percent of the students, but it also will have 57 percent of the tax base. The remaining west-side district is expected to grow more than the east-side communities; a feasibility study in 2006 found that over the next five years, the west-side schools would need $585 million for capital facility needs, and the east side would need $194 million.

At the same time, residents in the east-side area expressed resentment that projects promised in a 2003 bond issue for their area were not completed.

Transition teams for each district have negotiated for several months to divide the assets of the existing school system and whether one district needs to reimburse the other to make the split equitable. The teams have been unable to agree on a plan, and the financial questions are headed to arbitration.

Raising Arizona State

With more than 51,000 students in fall 2006, Arizona State University's Tempe campus is fifth on the list of largest colleges and universities. Like most large institutions trying to remain competitive and recruit students, Arizona State has many construction projects in the works.

University officials want to boost the number of students living on the four Arizona State campuses to 12,000 by 2015. In Tempe, the school plans to construct 10 buildings on the south end of campus that will accommodate 5,000 students.

The first of those facilities — called Vista Del Sol — opened for the fall semester. Built in partnership with a private developer, the 1,866-bed building has one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. Like many university housing projects built in recent years, it offers numerous amenities: a community center, theater, tanning salon, retail plaza, fitness center, swimming pool, game room and flatscreen TVs.

Elsewhere on the Tempe campus, Arizona State is erecting a new home for its honors college. Workers broke ground last year on a $120 million home for Barrett College. The 8.25-acre campus will provide housing for 1,700 students, as well as include a central dining facility. The project will have seven buildings and a total of 510,000 square feet of space — 431,000 of that residential.

The new space will have a sustainable living community, with low-consumption plumbing fixtures, enhanced energy monitoring, a green roof and organic garden offering students the opportunity to study and experience sustainable living concepts. Other amenities will include a fitness center, computer lounge and lab, amphitheater, classrooms, outside activity courts and dining hall with covered terrace, a garden and special dining rooms.

Largest in higher education

Rank Institution Fall 2006 Fall 2005 1-year %
change
Fall 1996 10-year %
change
1 University of Phoenix Online Campus 224,880 117,309 91.70% n/a* n/a
2 Miami Dade College 54,094 54,169 -0.14% 48,795 10.86%
3 Ohio State University 52,568 50,504 4.09% 48,352 8.72%
4 University of Florida 51,725 46,693 10.78% 39,863 29.76%
5 Arizona State University 51,481 51,612 -0.25% 42,463 21.24%
6 University of Minnesota — Twin Cities 50,883 51,175 -0.57% 51,388 -0.98%
7 University of Texas at Austin 50,170 49,696 0.95% 48,008 4.50%
8 University of Central Florida 48,398 44,856 7.90% 27,684 74.82%
9 Texas A&M University 46,542 44,910 3.63% 41,892 11.10%
10 City College of San Francisco 46,411 43,255 7.30% 26,933 72.32%
11 Michigan State University 46,045 45,166 1.95% 41,545 10.83%
12 University of South Florida 44,870 42,660 5.18% 36,266 23.72%
13 Houston Community College 43,518 39,516 10.13% 38,493 13.05%
14 Pennsylvania State University 43,252 40,709 6.25% 39,855 8.52%
15 University of Illinois at Urbana — Champaign 42,326 41,938 0.93% 38,841 8.97%
16 University of Michigan — Ann Arbor 41,942 39,993 4.87% 36,525 14.83%
17 New York University 41,783 40,004 4.45% 36,305 15.09%
18 University of Wisconsin — Madison 41,563 40,793 1.89% 39,289 5.79%
19 Northern Virginia Community College 41,266 37,740 9.34% 35,337 16.78%
20 Florida State University 40,555 39,146 3.60% 30,154 34.49%
*Was not among the largest 120 campuses in 1996
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator

Kennedy, staff writer, can be reached at mkennedy@asumag.com.