According to media reports Friday, Puerto Rico is closing 184 public schools in an effort to save millions of dollars amid a deep economic crisis.
The Associated Press reports that about 27,000 students will have to find new schools when theirs close at the end of May.
Officials say the action is the largest mass closure of schools announced in the history of the U.S. territory. Officials shuttered 150 schools from 2010 to 2015.
Opponents of previous school closures say that transportation logistics and special education needs were not taken into account. About 30 percent of students in Puerto Rico receive specialized education, twice the average in the U.S. mainland.
Puerto Rico has 1,292 public schools that serve 365,000 students. The island has seen its school enrollment drop 42 percent in the past three decades, and an additional 22 percent drop is expected in coming years, according to a consultant’s study conducted to help restructure Puerto Rico’s education system.
Economic difficulties in Puerto Rico have sparked an exodus to the U.S. mainland in the past decade, officials say. Much of the drop is the result of parents moving to the mainland U.S. in search of jobs and a more affordable life, as well as thousands of teachers being recruited from the island for their bilingual skills. The island’s low birth rate also is expected to keep driving down enrollment.
Video from ABC News on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis: