Florida’s charter school enrollment jumps to nearly 296,000

Florida charter school growth slowed over the past several years. But that trend appears to have leveled off.

The state’s charter schools added a little more than 12,000 students this school year, according to the latest statistics from the Florida Department of Education. That’s down only slightly from the previous school year, when they added just shy of 13,000 students.

Total charter school enrollment stands at 295,814.

Source: Florida Department of Education

Statewide, this growth is not cutting into school district enrollment. Over the past five school years, both district and charter schools added students overall.

But the trends vary across school districts.

For example, in Palm Beach County, charter school enrollment actually shrank from last year. The local press noted this in August. That’s despite steady growth in overall public-school population.

Palm Beach charter school enrollment graph

Source: Florida Department of Education

Palm Beach wasn’t alone. Charter school enrollment also declined in neighboring Broward County. Leon County charters lost a few hundred students, largely due to school closures. Lee and Monroe Counties stand out because their charter schools enroll a smaller percentage of public-school students in 2018 than they did in 2014.

Meanwhile, charter schools in Osceola County have grown rapidly. They now enroll nearly a fifth of the district’s public-school students. But the district schools are growing, too — thanks in part to an influx from Puerto Rico. Charter schools may help the district manage that growth.

Source: Florida Department of Education

The same could be said for Hillsborough County. District enrollment declined slightly in the Tampa area this school year. But it’s up by more than 6,000 students since 2014, and charters keep growing.

On the other hand, in Miami-Dade County, charter schools have grown steadily, but enrollment in district schools has declined.

Source: Florida Department of Education

The competition for students is stiff. That may drive the district to keep adding choice and magnet programs.

5 Responses to Florida’s charter school enrollment jumps to nearly 296,000

  1. Matthew Ladner May 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm #

    Travis-

    Any chance you could add private choice program students into these cool charts?

    • Travis Pillow
      Travis Pillow May 17, 2018 at 3:09 pm #

      Absolutely. Waiting on some end-of-year private school enrollment stats, and then things should really get interesting!

  2. Anne Hartley May 21, 2018 at 4:46 pm #

    When you plot the percentage of charter school students over the past 5 years, charter school participation leveled off at 10% two years ago. These data don’t back up the claim (not by you, by others) that parents are taking more advantage of school choice than ever before. After all of the negative publicity about public schools and praise of privately managed schools, and legislation that diverted 100s of millions to new charter school construction, It looks as though new charter schools reflect demand by legislators, not parents.

    • Doug Tuthill May 26, 2018 at 8:33 am #

      Anne, education choice includes magnet schools, virtual schools, private schools, Education Savings Accounts, dual enrollment, homeschooling, charter schools, open enrollment, and parents choosing schools via where they purchase homes. Parents are taking advantage of these opportunities in increasing numbers. School boards and the legislature are making these choices available, but parents are making these choices. If you want education choice to stop growing, you need to convince parents to stop choosing.

      Thanks for your comment.

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