St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message

Schools chief sees silver lining in low enrollments

Published November 18, 2006


TAMPA - Florida's stagnating student enrollment has a silver lining, Education Commissioner John Winn said Friday.

The state's teacher shortage could become less acute, and reducing class sizes may be less costly. "We do see a trend on slower growth than we've had in the past," said Winn, who noted this is the third consecutive year fewer students showed up statewide than were expected.

Hoping to do better next year, Winn wants to incorporate economic indicators like home sales, bankruptcies and business openings and closings into the computer models used to project student enrollment.

This year, statewide enrollment increased by fewer than 500 students, about 48,000 fewer than expected. Winn thinks it is the smallest enrollment increase in 25 years.

School districts have speculated that higher property and insurance costs are hurting enrollment.

In Hillsborough, a rash of apartment complexes converting to condominiums led to declines in some neighborhoods, Winn said.

He stressed that state officials have no way of knowing about such micro changes and depend on individual districts to track local trends.

Statewide, Winn said, migration patterns are changing. Fewer students entered Florida in 2005-06 than in the previous year, excluding one-time events like Hurricane Katrina evacuees. At the same time, more students left the state. "That's a pretty big shift," Winn said.

When enrollment projections miss their mark, school districts take the hit in their pocketbooks. Their budgets are based on anticipated enrollment.

Letitia Stein can be reached at 813 226-3400 or

[Last modified November 18, 2006, 06:10:32]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters