Florida public schools are expected to grow by 27,000 students in the next year, under an estimate approved by state forecasters on Thursday.
The 0.9 percent growth rate for the 2018-19 academic year is in line with an estimate showing the number of students in Florida K-12 classrooms will average less than 1 percent growth over the four subsequent years.
K-12 enrollment is projected to rise from 2.83 million students this year to 2.86 million next fall, an increase of 26,764 full-time students in the 67 school districts and the Florida Virtual School, according to Thursday's forecast.
The K-12 population will rise to 2.95 million students by the fall of 2022, averaging an annual increase of 0.85 percent from the fall of 2018, the projection shows.
Next year, students enrolled statewide in standard education classes in grades 4-8 will increase by 1.5 percent, while standard high school enrollment will grow by 1.3 percent, the estimate shows. K-3 enrollment is projected to decline by 1.3 percent.
Among the major trends, the estimate shows a 3.4 percent increase in students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, with 202,033 students projected next fall, an increase of 6,608 students from this year.
More students are expected to take advantage of “dual enrollment” programs, where they can earn state college or university credits while still in high school.
Dual enrollment students are expected to increase by 11 percent next year, with the projected 26,862 students representing a 23 percent increase since the 2016-17 academic year.
Orange County, the state's fourth-largest district, is expected to have the highest headcount growth next year, gaining 4,668 students over this year.
The growth includes more than 1,400 additional students in the ESOL program and increase of more than 1,100 students in grades 4-8 and 1,300 in high school. Grades K-3 are expected to drop by 379 students.
Overall, Orange County is expected to experience a 2.3 percent growth rate next year, more than double a predicted statewide increase of less than 1 percent.
Hillsborough County, the third-largest district, is expected to gain 3,203 additional students in 2018-19, a 1.5 percent growth rate.
The state's two largest school districts won't be growing quite as fast.
Miami-Dade County will gain 1,466 students --- a 0.4 percent increase --- and Broward County schools will gain 1,910 new students, about a 0.7 percent jump.
With a 0.1 percent decline, or 281 students, Monroe County is expected to lose the largest number of pupils next year.
The state's smallest district, Jefferson County, is projected to have the largest decline, with a 9.5 percent drop. The struggling school district is expected to have an enrollment of 624 students next year.
Statewide, the highest annual K-12 enrollment growth since the Great Recession occurred in the 2014-15 academic year, with a 1.4 percent increase.
School enrollment dropped during the recession, with three successive declines beginning in the fall of 2006 through the fall of 2008.
The enrollment estimating conference, which includes analysts from the House, Senate, Governor's Office, the Department of Education and the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, will meet again later this year to adjust the K-12 enrollment estimate, based on actual headcounts that will occur as the 2017-18 academic year begins next month.