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Florida school districts remain among nation’s largest

Hillsborough County moves up in the ranking, while Pasco County joins the state’s top 10.
Students enjoy lunch at a school run by Kid's Community College, a charter operation that has steadily added schools in the Riverview area since it arrived on the scene in 2005. The growth comes as charter schools become an integral part of the education landscape in Hillsborough County, even as school officials lament the impact of charter-friendly measures by the Legislature. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published Nov. 4
Updated Nov. 4

You can stop calling the Hillsborough County school district the eighth largest in the nation now.

It’s become No. 7.

According to the latest rankings from American School & University, generally considered the go-to spot for the Top 100 school district list, Hillsborough slipped past the Houston, Texas, school system by about 3,000 students to take over the seventh spot on the list.

With 217,072 students, Hillsborough still ranked behind Miami-Dade (No. 4) and Broward (No. 6) on the annual rating, based on 2017-18 numbers. Orange County also moved up one position, to No. 9, and Palm Beach County entered the Top 10, giving Florida half of the ten largest districts by enrollment in the nation.

Florida’s enrollment overall has seen increases in recent years, and its 14 total districts in the Top 100 account for more than 2 million students. The Sunshine State still pales in comparison to Texas, though, which has 21 districts on the list, including nine that more than doubled in enrollment since the 1987-88 rankings.

Many of the Florida districts also showed significant growth, even over the past five years.

The Pasco County school district, for instance, grew by 7 percent, jumping into the state’s Top 10 for the first time by surpassing Brevard County, now at No. 11. Both sit inside the nation’s Top 50, as well.

Orange County schools saw 12 percent gains over the same period, and Lee County experienced 9 percent growth.

Pinellas County schools bucked that trend.

Though the district remained in the state’s Top 10, it fell two spots in the national ranking to No. 28 as its student population dropped by 2 percent. The Polk County school district, with 104,136 students, moved ahead of Pinellas in size as it grew by just over 7 percent.

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