Public Schools Shutting Down in Red State

Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash

( – Florida has become the test for school choice programs, despite the program disrupting the state’s public schools significantly.

Several districts have had to close schools as students leave for charter schools, private schools, or homeschooling in droves.

Over the last five years, the Sunshine State’s largest school districts have lost tens of thousands of students to the school choice program, forcing some to consider shutting.

In 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis redirected over a billion dollars allocated to public education to private schools for student scholarships.

These scholarships are available to K-12 students irrespective of the family’s income, making it possible for more families to select charter, magnet, or private schools.

Some of Florida’s largest school districts, including Broward County Public Schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and Duval County Public Schools, have experienced a notable decrease in enrollment. The lower enrollment has prompted school officials to consider cost-cutting measures, including laying off educators, closing schools, or repurposing facilities.

Last month, the Broward County district unveiled a proposal to close three schools as part of its cost-cutting measures. Olsen Middle School was one of those choices.

This could kickstart widespread closures, especially considering the state’s data.

According to data from Florida’s Department of Education, enrollment in charter schools increased by 68,000 students between 2019 and 2023.

Most of those enrollments occurred in Miami-Dade, Duval, and Broward counties.

Between 2019-2020 and 2022-2023, enrollment in private schools in Florida rose by nearly 50,000 students.

Thousands of families have also opted to homeschool their kids, bringing the total of homeschooled children to 154,000 in Florida, an almost 50,000 increase.

These figures have meant that more than 49,000 classroom seats in Broward County Public Schools have been empty this year, according to officials, a number, they say, that “closely matches” the 49,833 students who’ve chosen charter schools in the area.

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