Associated Press’ Danica Soto reports that, although officials had reported that 184 public schools would close, at the last minute, the number of closures changed to 179 schools in Puerto Rico in an attempt to save more than $7 million “amid a deep economic crisis that has sparked an exodus to the U.S. mainland in the past decade.” Soto writes:
More than 27,000 students will be moved elsewhere when their schools close at the end of May, said newly appointed Education Secretary Julia Keleher. “We have a fiscal crisis and few resources and we’ve spent 10 years handing out nearly $3 billion in a system that hardly has any books,” she said. “We cannot keep doing what we’re doing because we don’t have the resources.”
The news about the school closures raised concerns it could speed up the ongoing exodus from Puerto Rico. Nearly 450,000 people over the last decade have already left for Florida and other parts of the U.S. mainland to flee the worsening economic crisis.
Officials initially had said 184 schools were closing but then announced at the last minute that five of those schools would remain open.
The school shutdown announced Friday will be the largest mass closure of schools in the island’s history, with officials saying it will in part lead to millions of dollars in savings a year for an education department that represent nearly 30 percent of Puerto Rico’s $9 billion budget. Officials shuttered 150 schools over the span of five years from 2010 to 2015.
Aida Diaz, president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Teachers, said Keleher’s plan makes sense, compared with previous closures under former administrations. “Leaders thrive off controversy, but I cannot dispute the plan,” she said. “This process has been much more organized and well thought-out and incredibly backed up with data and information.” She said many of the schools closing have few students and crumbling infrastructure as well as a lack of air conditioning in an island where summers are brutal. [. . .]
For full article and video, see http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/puerto-rico-close-184-public-schools-amid-crisis-47229712