RALEIGH, N.C. — Attendance in the state's largest school system jumped by 2.35 percent for the 2011-12 school year, according to numbers released by the Wake County Public School System.
As of Thursday, the first day of school for students on a traditional-calendar schedule, 146,657 students had enrolled in the district, 3,368 more than last year.
That figure will likely go up as more students enroll over the next few weeks. The official student enrollment number is counted on the 20th day of school.
The increase in students comes following deep budget cuts over the summer. Wake County and districts across the North Carolina shed millions in operating expenses so that lawmakers could balance the state budget.
Although it spared most teachers, there are fewer assistant principals, custodians and administrative workers.
The state budget also cut spending for textbooks and instructional supplies, and some districts, including Wake, decided to start charging students to take driver's education courses.
"Any time you have budget cuts, it's a challenge," Superintendent Tony Tata said. "What we did was focus on teachers and classrooms and protected those, and then also focused on innovative programs to make sure all schools were in high demand."
"We kept teacher-to-classroom ratios the same, and that was our first and foremost priority," he added, saying the district has actually added 82 teachers, so far, for the new school year.