Thursday, May 1, 2014

Puerto Rico: In Response to Job Exodus to US Mainland, Public School Enrollments Decline by 40%

According to EFE, the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico will close roughly 100 public schools in response to the 40% decline in its the student population over the past three decades.

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, in his budget message for the coming fiscal year, announced a reorganization plan for the education sector with which he expects to save more than $90 million.

The Governor justified the measure by emphasizing the need to adjust to the island’s new demographic reality, given that over the past few decades its student population has been declining both due to aging and the exodus of Puerto Ricans to the US mainland in search of employment opportunities.

Puerto Rico at the end of the 1980s had a student population of 716,000 in its public schools, but that number currently stands at 430,000, according to figures provided by the Teachers Association.

COMMENT: Surprisingly, despite the 40% decline in public education enrollments, why is it that no teachers will be laid off?

In addition, the Governor announced in his budgetary message that school transportation services will now be managed by the municipalities.

To determine which schools will be closed, the reorganization process will take into consideration the declining student population, the condition of infrastructure and the nearness of other schools, among other factors.

Puerto Rico currently pays private bus companies some $185 million a year to transport students, a level of spending that Education Secretary Román Melendez says is out of proportion to the services rendered.