New Schools in the United States: A Quantitative Review of New Public Schools Opened Over the Last Three Decades

Jesse Margolis, May 2023


In recent decades, the creation of new public schools has been an important initiative to improve the nation’s K-12 education system. The development of a new school can take many forms, from the construction of an elementary school to address population growth, to a collection of new, small high schools that replace a large failing school, to a charter school experimenting with new methods of education.

State and local governments have invested significant time and money in new school creation, often supported by philanthropy. However, we are unaware of a comprehensive study of the number, type, and characteristics of new public schools opened in recent years.

The goal of this research is to provide a comprehensive, quantitative review of new public schools opened in the United States over the past three decades.

Key Findings:

  • As of 2019-20, nearly 17 million children, one-third of all public school students, attended new schools that were started in the last 30 years
  • New school creation grew in the 1990s in response to enrollment growth, peaked in the 2000s in alignment with school reform efforts (including charter schools), and declined during the 2010s
  • Compared to older schools, new schools are more likely to enroll Black and Hispanic students and less likely to enroll White students
  • New York City has been at the forefront of the new school movement, and with 1,050 new schools open today, New York has more new schools than the next three largest districts combined

For a map of new schools started across the United States, please click here: Public Schools in the United States: 1990-2020.

Thank you to the Carnegie Corporation of New York for making this research possible. Please visit for more information.