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School Enrollment Flat, State Economy Deflating

July 9th, 2008 by flanews

Enrollment in Florida’s Public Schools is slowing. State economists are predicting fewer than 1,700 new students next year and flat growth for the 2009 school year. As Whitney Ray tells us, when schools stop growing the state’s economy suffers.

Hear it Here: School Enrollment Flat, State Economy Deflating

Children may be our future but they also tell us something about the present. In 2003, Florida’s public school system was busting at the seams, adding about 65,000 new students every year. In the past Florida Schools added portable classrooms to keep up with growth on campus. That could soon change.

For the past five years statewide growth has slowed. Now it’s flat which is bittersweet for the state’s financially strapped school system. Florida schools will add fewer than 1,700 new students next fall.

“It means we’re having to hire fewer teachers and having to build less classrooms,” said Wayne Blanton with the Florida School Boards Association.

But the news is bad for the state’s economy. Florida TaxWatch CEO Dominic Calabro said a decrease in student enrollment growth is a sign fewer working class families are moving to Florida and spending money.

“They bring with them a sense of purpose and work and sense of community. They’re very active. They have a lot of transactions,” said Calabro.

One reason the number of students hasn’t declined more is that many working families are unable to sell their homes and move. The Education Estimating Conference will meet again Friday to decide how many students might enroll in the Florida Public School system in the 2009 – 2010 school year.

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