Tag Archives: Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico To Close 283 Schools

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s Department of Education announced Thursday that it will close 283 schools this summer following a sharp drop in enrollment amid the island’s long economic slump and the continued departure of families after Hurricane Maria.

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Education Secretary Julia Keleher said there would be no layoffs. Teachers and other employees will be reassigned to other schools as part of a fiscal plan that aims to save the department some $150 million. The U.S. territory currently has more than 1,100 public schools that serve 319,000 students. “We know it’s a difficult and painful process,” Keleher said. “Our children deserve the best education that we are capable of giving them taking into account Puerto Rico’s fiscal reality.” Keleher said that enrollment has dropped by more than 38,700 students since just last May and that nearly half of the schools are using only 60 per cent of their capacity. After the closures, 828 public schools will remain operational. Keleher said she has invited mayors in the island’s 78 municipalities to propose new uses for the shuttered schools. The announcement of closures came two weeks after Gov. Ricardo Rossello signed a bill for implementing a charter schools pilot program in 10 per cent of public schools and offering private school vouchers to 3 per cent of students starting in 2019-2020 as part of an education overhaul. Aida Diaz, president of a union that represents some 30,000 teachers, said she and others would fight the closures. “The damage that the Secretary of Education is doing to children, youth and their parents is immeasurable,” Diaz said in a statement sent to The Associated Press Yolanda Rosaly, an Education Department spokeswoman, did not immediately return a message for comment. Those who oppose the closures say they worry about transportation logistics and the needs of special education children. An estimated 30 per cent of Puerto Rico students receive specialized education, twice the average on the U.S. mainland. The drop in enrollment comes as roughly a half million people have fled Puerto Rico for the U.S. mainland in the past decade during the long recession, including an estimated 135,000 since Hurricane Maria in September. Puerto Rico closed 150 schools from 2010 to 2015, and last year announced it would be closing another 179 schools.

Source: Attawa Citizen

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Puerto Rico Government Paid Themselves $100M Christmas Bonuses From Hurricane Maria Recovery Aid

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San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello Nevares last month asked federal taxpayers to shell out $94 billion to pay for the territory’s recovery from Hurricane Maria — then turned around and paid out about $100 million in Christmas bonuses to island government employees.

The governor’s aides say the bonuses are a longstanding tradition and part of the law, and were planned for in the budget approved last summer.

But that budget came well before Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, leaving much of the territory in ruin and leaving the government begging for federal assistance.

The island’s financial oversight board, created by Congress as part of a deal to bail the government out of a potential debt default last year, called the payments “imprudent” and said the hurricanes should have forced the governor to rethink his decisions.

And the payments could dent Mr. Rossello Nevares’ efforts to get Capitol Hill to pony up for the recovery, where the $94 billion price tag the island has set is already meeting with shock.

Puerto Rico has demonstrated time and time again that its government is incapable of responsibly handling its finances. This is yet another such instance,” Rep. Tom McClintock, who sits on the House committee with oversight over Puerto Rico, told The Washington Times in a statement after the bonuses were revealed.

Source: Trigger Reset