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CMS enrollment inches up for a second year in a row

Students on the first day of school at the new CMS Mint Hill Elementary School.
Ann Doss Helms
Students on the first day of school at the new CMS Mint Hill Elementary School.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools enrollment inched up for the second year in a row, after a pandemic plunge two years ago.

Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said this year’s count is 141,219, about 250 more than officials projected. That's an increase of about 800 students, or half a percent.

"So we have stabilized somewhat with our enrollment numbers. And congratulations to teachers, principals, and the job that they’re doing, along with the various programs we offer families, all the various magnet programs that really are an enticement for people to stay engaged with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools," Hattabaugh said at Wednesday's school board meeting.

The total remains well below the peak of about 147,000 in 2017 and 2018.

CMS and many districts across the state saw enrollment flatten or fall before the pandemic, and the 2020-21 school year brought a big drop for most of them. Last year CMS projected a much bigger return than actually materialized.

North Carolina has not yet posted tallies for all districts.

Once again, the growth in CMS was driven by an increasing number of Latino students, while the number of Black, white and Asian students declined slightly. Numbers provided after the board meeting show:

  • The district's 50,423 Black students account for 35.7% of the CMS student body, down by about 550.
  • Latino enrollment grew by 1,600, to 41,640. That's 29.5% of CMS students.
  • White enrollment dropped by almost 570, to 34,191, or 24.2%.
  • Asian enrollment was down 50, to 9,858. That's 7% of the student body.

Myers Park High School is once again the largest school in CMS, with 3,593 students. It's closely followed by Ardrey Kell High (3,529) and South Mecklenburg High (3,344). CMS plans to open a new southern high school in 2024 that will relieve crowding at all three schools.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.