How property taxes keep Florida students in impoverished school districts


  • Photo via EdBuild

Orange County parents: Ever wondered why, oh why, neighboring schools in Seminole County are so much better? The map above shows exactly how the public school system's dependence on property taxes affects your child's school quality and encourages the divide between rich and poor communities. 

Created by EdBuild, the interactive map displays student poverty levels using U.S. Census data on more than 13,000 school districts in the nation. EdBuild founder Rebecca Sibilia told the Washington Post that "gerrymandering is as much a problem for kids in public schools as it is for voters...boundaries are drawn to contain poor families rather than to favor a certain political party."

  • Photo via EdBuild

The Orange County School District has a 24.5 percent poverty rate, while directly above it, the Seminole County School District has a poverty rate of 15.8 percent. Looking at the state map, it does in fact look like there's been some gerrymandering hands near Seminole, which stands out like a beacon among the poorer districts surrounding it. In the Osceola County School District, poverty levels are at 31.8 percent. 

The poorest school districts in Florida include the Putnam, DeSoto and Gadsen County School District, with over 40 percent of their students in poverty. 

"This system ties school budgets to the value of local property wealth and incentivizes boundaries between upper- and lower-income communities," EdBuild's website says. "Intentional or not, these invisible walls often concentrate education dollars within affluent school districts, and ensure that low-income students are kept on the outside."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.