Florida private school enrollment jumped last school year

Florida added more than 29,000 private school students last school year, according to data released this summer by the Florida Department of Education.

That’s the second-largest jump in private school enrollment in the past decade, trailing only the previous school year, when private school enrollment rebounded from a pandemic-era dip.

Florida’s private schools reported 445,067 students enrolled during the 2022-23 school year, an all-time high.

private school enrollment bar graph

All told, 13.4 percent of Florida’s 3.3 million Pre-K-12 students attend private school. The share of private school students is higher in Pre-K than in older grades. The state’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program provides a universal scholarship for students to attend public or private schools of their choice.

The state’s report lists 11 counties with private school enrollment above 15 percent. They include affluent suburbs (led by Martin County, where 44.4 percent of students attend private schools), rural districts (led by Jefferson County, home to a historically troubled public school system), and large urban districts.

If Miami-Dade County’s private schools counted as a school district, it would edge out Pasco County Schools as the tenth largest in the state.

The report also shows the number of private schools increased slightly, by 125. The number of students swung more dramatically, both in the pandemic drop and in the subsequent upward surge, than the number of schools.

bar graph showing increase in private schools

Public schools across the Florida are also adding students as families relocate from other states, and state economic forecasters project that growth will continue.

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BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at) sufs.org.