Florida charter school enrollment jumps past 270,000

Charter school enrollment graph

Source: Florida Department of Education enrollment surveys

Florida’s charter schools aren’t growing as fast as they had in previous years, but they’re still growing more than 10 times as fast as public schools overall, fresh state statistics show.

The latest enrollment numbers from the Florida Department of Education show charter school enrollment jumped to just over 270,000 last fall.

That means charters grew about 7.8 percent since last school year — their slowest growth rate in nearly a decade. The latest figures from state economists show total public-school enrollment, which includes charters, has increased about 0.7 percent in the 2015-16 school year.

While it’s getting harder to open a charter school in Florida, and that likely helps explain the slowdown, students are still flocking to charters in large numbers. Charters added some 19,000 students in the current school year, which means enrollment has more than doubled over the past five years.

In a handful of districts, including Escambia County, where the school board closed a pair of troubled Newpoint charter schools, the number of students attending charters actually declined. Two districts in Orlando’s suburbs (Seminole and Osceola Counties) saw some of the fastest growth. Osceola’s student population is predominantly Hispanic, and Florida’s Hispanic families have been more likely to choose charter schools for their children.

The table below shows the 10 Florida school districts with 1,000 or more charter-school students where charters grew the fastest. Download the full set of numbers here.

District Charter enrollment 2015-16 Charter enrollment 2014-15 Increase/Decrease Percentage increase
SEMINOLE 1,555 1,017 538 52.90%
OSCEOLA 10,366 7,896 2,470 31.28%
COLLIER 2,260 1,886 374 19.83%
VOLUSIA 2,308 1,950 358 18.36%
LEON 1,910 1,620 290 17.90%
BREVARD 4,991 4,279 712 16.64%
PASCO 3,613 3,182 431 13.54%
DUVAL 12,332 10,986 1,346 12.25%
ORANGE 12,630 11,524 1,106 9.60%
ST. LUCIE 3,099 2,832 267 9.43%

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