Six years ago, the student population of Broward Schools was 260,000.

Today that number is about 230,000 with an expected drop of another 5,000 students next year, making a loss of 35,000 students.

Where’d they go?

Some have definitely moved out of Broward.

But the majority has moved to one of the 68 charter schools in the county.

They aren’t coming back.

A simple calculation says that the district no longer has a need for up to 35 schools.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.

But the district must begin to consider school closings while consolidating under enrolled facilities.

The reality is that the loss of 35,000 students means a loss of revenue.

At $6,400 per student, that’s a budget reduction of $224 million over the last six years.

It isn’t all Tallahassee’s fault.

The district has yet to act appropriately.

What’s appropriate?

For one thing, as schools are consolidated leaving empty buildings, staff from rented facilities can be moved in.

It’s also no crime to reduce a school back to the original, as built FISH capacity while using the newer construction for office space.

With all the money spent building new schools and new classrooms to meet class size, the number of classrooms was quite appropriate for 2006, especially since that’s when the increase in student population began to level off.

It’s six years later with a serious reduction in population with no end in sight and no concrete action from the district.

The district must become “lean and mean” to compete with the charter schools.

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