While Pines Charter Has a Long Waiting List, Broward Loses Students


Graphic by Megan Ingram,

Joshua Lasarte, Enterprise Editor

   With almost 270,000 students, the Broward County school system is the sixth largest county in the country. However, this number dropped significantly heading into the 2021-22 school year when they lost over 12,000 students according to the Sun Sentinel. While Broward lost lots of students, the state of Florida has lost nearly 90,000 students in total. The main reason for the sharp decline revolved around COVID, whether it was the fear of the virus itself, or vaccine and mask mandates.

   One of the most controversial topics among schools is the mask mandate, while Governor Ron Desantis has been strongly against it, some school boards are enforcing them. These mandates have led to some parents pulling their children out of school and even protesting at school board meetings. Junior Owen Galvin said, “Losing students could be good because it will help with overcrowding.” According to Local10, Parents have even transferred students to private schools to avoid the Broward County School system. Some see the mandates as necessary while others see them as government overreach and believe it should be a choice. The biggest loss of students has been at lower grade levels due to the unavailability of a vaccine for young students. 

   The withdrawal of thousands of students presents a huge threat to the school board because they receive funding depending on enrollment numbers. If kids continue to withdraw, schools will lose funding affecting those who stayed. Principal Peter Bayer said, “The state takes a count of enrolled students in October and February and that is how funding comes to our school.” The county has already reached into the federal COVID funds to keep programs and jobs. According to the Sun Sentinel, district officials also believe that the lack of young families moving to Borward recently is also affecting the enrollment numbers. The lack of students has hit the county so hard that they resorted to launching a door to door campaign to get students back in school.

   Out of all the schools in the county, Pembroke Pines Charter has been able to hold a strong wait list and an enrollment of over 2100 students. Principal Peter Bayer said, “If [the students] simply dropped out of school, then that is a shame–and I hope they are able to get them back.” Unlike many schools right now, Pines Charter has the privilege of stability in very unstable times due to their waitlist and funding.

   Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright wants to find out why students are leaving, but has hit a stonewall due to people being uncooperative. She either found out that students went to private school or just moved out of Broward. In order to strengthen her campaign, Cartwright has also tried to get parents to speak about what the county can do in order to get their students back into the classroom. Lots of parents have felt like the county and Superintendent have not listened to their concerns due to political differences.

    Students leaving Broward county public schools have raised the attendance of private and charter schools. Pembroke Pines Charter has had a long waitlist for years due to its ranking in the top 900 of schools in the nation. Pines Charter is the largest charter school system in Broward with a waitlist of almost 6,000 students, according to pinescharter.net. Give or take five students, the total enrollment count of 2115 has shown that schools are able to maintain a population if they try to. Pembroke Pines Charter has figured out what many Broward schools wish they could do.