Wake schools grew by 1,436 students this year. Next year, they predict 33 students
Posted February 4, 2020 6:32 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2020 6:40 p.m. EST
Cary, N.C. — The Wake County Public School System grew by 1,436 students this school year for a total of 161,907 students. But district leaders expect that number to be much smaller next school year. They predict growing by only 33 students in the fall, according to a long-range student forecast presented Tuesday.
School leaders attribute part of the slow growth to the aging of the county's population and parents having more education options, including charter, private and home schools. Those school options "continue to grow and capture a larger share of the K-12 population in Wake County," according to the report.
Charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately run, have "created an unpredictable landscape," because Wake school leaders don't always know when or where they will open, according to Wade Martin, Wake schools' assistant superintendent for school choice, planning and assignment.
Still, Wade added, "the overwhelming majority of families choose Wake County schools."
In 2018-19, the district planned to enroll 1,900 students but only grew by 42 students – or roughly two classrooms.
Across North Carolina, enrollment in charter, private and home schools continues to rise. Meanwhile, traditional public schools' numbers have continued to fall, according to data posted by the state.
Traditional public schools educate 80 percent of North Carolina's 1.8 million K-12 students, but the schools saw enrollment fall by 6,412 students from 2017-18 to 2018-19.
Charter schools saw the greatest jump, with 9,915 new students in 2018-19, followed by home schools, with 6,288 new students, and private schools, with 625 more students, according to state data.