Traditionally, Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer and the start of the school year for millions of children in the United States. Each year, school systems around the country take the summer break to make improvements to school facilities.
The following facts illustrate the scope of the nation’s K–12 public school enterprise. In the 2008–2009 school year:
- 49.8 million students were enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools;
- Public schools employed about 3.3 million teachers;
- There were 14,200 public school districts containing about 97,000 public schools;
- Expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools were about $519 billion;
- The national average spending per student in the 2005–2006 school year was about $10,418.
The 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure gave the state of the nation's schools a grade of "D." Assessing the conditions of the nation’s public school facilities remains a difficult process. There have been no comprehensive federal reports since the Department of Education report Condition of America’s Public School Facilities: 1999. And, despite increasing federal mandates on school performance, school facilities in the United States are primarily a local responsibility and there is ample evidence that local communities are struggling to meet this responsibility. In 31 states, lawsuits have challenged the adequacy or equity of public education and have included facilities as elements of their cases.
To learn more, read the "schools" section of the Report Card.