Puerto Rico Department of Education continues downsizing
It has been reported that 25% of the schools in Puerto Rico are set to close within the year. These 238 schools will be closing amid dropping rates of students as many families have been leaving the islands following Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. The Department of Education has stated that the teachers are not being let go, but as the schools are being consolidated, the teachers and students are being reassigned to other schools. By the time that school starts in the fall of 2018, there will be less than 1000 schools open across Puerto Rico. Currently, it is being reported by the Puerto Rico Department of Education that the schools across the islands are at 60% capacity as over 38,000 students have migrated with their families to the mainland.
These decisions follow the Rosselló administration’s decisions to overhaul the Puerto Rico education system and bring on Julia Keleher who is pushing for charter schools and other reforms that are upsetting members of the teachers unions. Aida Díaz, president of the Puerto Rico Teachers Association, claims that this is a direct threat and annihilation of the public education system in Puerto Rico. Families across the island are also upset with the decision to close schools, saying that the decisions were made without input from the community regarding school performance and locations. Parents have concerns now about the schools where their children are being relocated to.
It is estimated that by closing down these schools, the islands will save over a million dollars per school, arguing that this reduction allows for a better reform of the system. By consolidating the schools and saving money there will be more opportunity for updating the schools that are still around. Additionally, Betsy DeVos, United States Secretary of Education, announced the allocation of an additional $589 million in funds to the Puerto Rico educational system to assist with rebuilding, which will support giving access to services and supplies needed to rebuild. According to Secretary Keleher this will help restore the Puerto Rican schools back to normal conditions.