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The universe consists of 15,171 school systems (as counted for the 2011-2012 survey cycle in a May 2013 listing of school systems in the Governments Integrated Directory) and is distributed as follows:
Independent School Districts
Dependent Educational Service Agencies (ESAs)
Dependent School Systems (not-ESAs)
The Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has maintained annual reimbursable agreements with the Census Bureau that require the collection and dissemination of universe school finance data. This requirement has been in place since the 1994-1995 fiscal year survey period. The full universe (15,171 for the 2011-2012 survey cycle) of school systems is included in the annual survey.
Data are of the financial activity of public elementary and secondary school systems. Related data on public school system employment are available in the Census Bureau's Annual Local Government Employment reports. Information for higher and other education systems can be found in separate annual and Census of Governments reports that focus on the finances of states, counties, cities and towns, and government finances in general.