Local News

More Wake County Students Moving From Public To Private Schools

Posted November 26, 2002

— A growing number of Wake County students are making the move from public school to private school.

At Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, some juniors are taking a college-level course in American history. Their parents are paying nearly double the tuition of a state university. They said they are willing to foot the bill for smaller classes and the certainty that students will never be reassigned, as can happen in Wake County public schools.

"Then you can concentrate on the most important things instead of having this nagging worry or nagging doubt that you might be transferred or have to make new friends or meet new teachers," parent Beth Van Vooren said.

During the early 1990s, there were only two Catholic schools in the Triangle. Today, there are nine, and more are in the works. In some of the schools, there are more non-Catholic students than Catholic.

Officials claim the demand is not just for a faith-based education. At Cary Academy, a private school for sixth- through 12th-graders, there is a waiting list of families who are willing to pay nearly $12,000 a year in tuition.

"We have about 70 percent of our families coming from the public sector, who have never been in an independent school before," said Lynne Foundation, of Cary Academy.

With private schools growing in popularity, the Catholic diocese hopes to open another high school in the next few years. Cardinal Gibbons already plans to build more classrooms.

According to Wake County officials, 10.5 percent of students in the county go to private schools, which is up from 9 percent in 1997. Wake County educators claim those figures are comparable to other school districts in North Carolina.

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