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Enrollment numbers show Wake Schools still Growing, Mecklenburg Shrinking


DCMetroRaleigh

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is almost 450 students short of last year's total, officials reported Friday.

If Tuesday's count falls short of 134,060, it will be the first enrollment decline after more than a decade of strong growth. As of Thursday, the total was 133,613, well short of the projected 134,446.

Wake County, which surpassed CMS as the state's largest district in 2007, had 139,362 students as of the 10th day, about 1,600 more than last year.

Charlotte Observer

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The aforementioned may be a partial explanation, but it does not explain why CMS went from growing rapidly the previous years this decade to apparently declining this year? If CMS has an unusual proportion of private schools and most of the family growth occurs outside Mecklenburg, these conditions would not have suddenly appeared within the last year.

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The article partially explains the loss in enrollment: "This year all N.C. public schools expect to see their kindergarten classes temporarily shrink, with the cutoff date for enrollment changing from October to August. Those classes should return to normal in 2010-11.

CMS officials estimate that the kindergarten change created a one-time drop of 1,300 students. "If that change didn't occur, we would have shown growth," student placement director Scott McCully said."

Couple that with the fact that the CharMeck region has been hit hard over the last year because of the recession, you can easily imagine multiple scenarios that would lead to a temporary decline in enrollment.

It's hard to see how anyone would use only one year's worth of school enrollment data to foreshadow a future population decline in Mecklenburg. It would take several years to register a sustained trend.

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Well, I do think enrollment figures are a leading indicator of population trends, if utilized in the context of other factors, such as birthrates, housing starts, and unemployment figures. I do not think it is coincidental that past spikes in school enrollment figures coincided with U.S. Census Bureau estimates of high population growth.

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I agree with Spartan in that there is a large number of private schools in the area and many families may choose to send their kids there instead of CMS. I know of two friends that have done that with their kids for this school year alone. And in all honesty, CMS doesn't have the greatest rep it seems lately. With so much bad press at schools across the country today (guns, massacres, etc) you can also throw in home schooling as well....

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