School & District Management News in Brief

School Closures Drawing Nearer for Puerto Rico

By Andrew Ujifusa — July 17, 2018 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Hurricane Maria severely disrupted Puerto Rico’s public schools when it hit last September. Now, the island’s education system is poised to undergo a controversial transition.

In response to the storm, as well as to falling enrollment and the government’s long-term financial woes, the Puerto Rico Department of Education plans to close nearly 25 percent of its public schools before the 2018-19 school year begins. Under the plan, 263 schools will close and 847 schools will remain open.

Across the island, 270 schools are being tapped to take in students from those schools that are slated to close. The average driving distance between the closing and receiving schools is 2.33 miles. Most of the driving distances between students’ old and new schools would be less than five miles, but these new routes to school could still be a big change for some children and parents.

Critics Fear Disruption

Government leaders say consolidating schools is a necessary step to reorganize and improve the U.S. territory’s K-12 system, but critics—including the leaders of the island’s teachers’ unions—say the closures will drive away families and teachers, as well as upend communities.

Younger students could be hit particularly hard: Among the schools scheduled for closure, at least 85 percent include the K-5 grades. These closures are subject to a legal battle currently taking place in the island’s courts.

Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher said many schools educate far fewer students than they have room for—nearly 500 schools had a utilization rate of less than 60 percent, she pointed out.

Consolidating schools will help Puerto Rico “guarantee access to books and teachers and resources in a positive, inviting learning environment,” Keleher said.

Enrollment on the island has been dropping for some time; last summer, the island shut down roughly 180 public schools.

Maya Riser-Kositsky contributed to this story.
A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2018 edition of Education Week as School Closures Drawing Nearer for Puerto Rico


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Why Principals Need to Talk About the Israel-Hamas War With Our Teachers
What can we do when a difficult topic is brought up by students in classrooms? First, don’t leave teachers to handle it in isolation.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
5 min read
Stylized photo illustration of a teacher feeling pressured as she is questioned by her students.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management Sometimes Principals Need to Make Big Changes. Here’s How to Get Them to Stick
School leaders need their community to take a leap of faith with them. But how do they build trust and conviction?
8 min read
Image of a leader reflecting on past and future.
akindo/DigitalVision Vectors
School & District Management A New Study Details Gender and Racial Disparities in the Superintendent's Office
Women and people of color are less likely than their white male counterparts to be appointed superintendent directly from a principal post.
6 min read
A conceptual image of a female being paid less than a male.
hyejin kang/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Late Arrivals, Steep Costs: Why Some Districts Ditch Third-Party Bus Companies
Districts are facing a host of transportation challenges. Some have addressed them by deciding to bring buses back in house.
6 min read
School buses parked in Helena, Mont., ahead of the beginning of the school year on Aug. 20, 2021.
Some districts are pulling back on decisions to outsource bus services in an effort to save money and improve service.
Iris Samuels/AP