Speed Reads

school's out forever

Puerto Rico is shuttering a quarter of its schools due to low enrollment after Hurricane Maria

A drop in enrollment has led Puerto Rico's Department of Education to announce the closing of 283 schools. The island's student body has shrunk by more than 38,700 students in the past year, amid hardship following Hurricane Maria and an ongoing economic slump.

Nearly half of Puerto Rico's roughly 1,100 public schools are operating at 60 percent capacity, Education Secretary Julia Keleher said Thursday. In response, officials will reshuffle teachers and funding to leave 828 schools open and close the rest this summer.

Critics say the closures will make transportation logistics difficult, NBC News reports, and not everyone is on board with the increased focus on a charter schools pilot program set to begin next year. Officials say that the move will save the Education Department $150 million, which can then be used to repair schools that will remain open.

Puerto Rico currently has around 319,000 students, but that number has been dropping since Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory in September. An estimated 135,000 Puerto Ricans have left the island since then, NBC News reports, as recovery efforts have stalled and economic stress has left people in despair. The unprecedented exodus has been going on for years: In 2016, there were 2 million more Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S. than on the island.

Puerto Rico closed 150 schools between 2010 and 2015 and announced last year that another 179 would close. Read more at NBC News.