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Puerto Rico Close Nearly 200 Public Schools

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Michael Pochron – Editor

More stories from Michael Pochron

A Final Farewell
May 24, 2017

Puerto Rico currently is scrambling to repay $73 billion in public debt and plans to save millions by shutting down public schools.

Josh Lederman, a reporter for the Associated Press, tweeted “SAN JUAN(AP) – Puerto Rico to close 184 public schools, relocate 27K students amid crisis that has prompted exodus to US mainland.”

The school shutdown announced May 5 will be the largest closure of schools in the history of the U.S. territory. Officials closed 150 schools over the span of five years from 2010 – 2015.

“Many on the list have few students and crumbling infrastructure,” said the president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Teachers, Aida L. Díaz de Rodríguez.

The island has a total of 1,292 public schools that serve 365,000 students. Puerto Rico has seen school enrollment drop 42% in the past three decades, and an additional 22% drop is expected in upcoming years. Nearly half a million people have moved to the U.S. in the past decade.

Jefferson-Morgan senior, Morgan Spencer said “I feel that the move to save money by closing down schools is a good one, but it would be made better by taking away non essential buildings first.”

Also, on May 4th Puerto Rico also declared bankruptcy and hopes that closing crumbling schools with little students will help combat their massive debt. This could’ve also been done due to the island relying on the US to pay their bankruptcy off.

On May 3, Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, said that the White House pushed hard to ensure no federal dollars would go toward paying the island’s debts in the latest Congressional budget deal.

Overall, Puerto Rico has $73 billion in public debt accumulated in part by previous administrations borrowing money to cover budget deficits. In comparison, the city of Detroit had less than $20 billion in debts when it filed for bankruptcy in 2013, which was the biggest US bankruptcy ever.

Many economists had anticipated the island’s move to seek a bankruptcy-like process, but it is impossible to predict what lies ahead.

The Puerto Rico Financial Control Board stated that “The move to restructure a portion of the debt in court will help Puerto Rico gain access to the capital markets after credit rating agencies downgraded the island’s debt to junk status in recent years.”

“The move to do away with some schools is a poor one for the long term situation of Puerto Rico,” said junior Savannah Saesan. “I believe that this will end up doing more harm than good to the country.

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Puerto Rico Close Nearly 200 Public Schools