Hispanic students fueled most of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools growth this year, while white enrollment continued to creep down, demographics released by the district show.
Overall, the official tally for 2012-13 continues the trends of recent years, as white students become more of a minority in CMS. Whites account for about 60 percent of Mecklenburg Countys population and 50 percent of children under 18, but they represent just under 32 percent of CMS students.
White enrollment declined by 168 students this year, to 44,618. White students remain a majority at many suburban schools, but have dwindled at many of the schools in an urban band that runs southwest to northeast across the county.
Hispanic enrollment grew from 24,055 last year to 26,020 this year, an increase of 1,965 students. CMS planners had projected only 2,000 more K-12 students this year, but ended up with an increase of 3,159. Hispanics now make up just over 18 percent of the districts 141,171 students.
Hispanic enrollment has roughly tripled over the last 10 years. The Census Bureau estimates about 17 percent of Mecklenburgs children are Hispanic.
Scott McCully, the administrator in charge of student placement, said some of the schools that exceeded projections are in the southern suburbs, traditionally a strong growth area. But some are closer-in schools with high percentages of Hispanic students, such as Hidden Valley and Albemarle Road elementaries, Sedgefield Middle and East Mecklenburg High.
Black students make up the largest group in CMS, with 58,840. Enrollment nudged up by 816 students, with black students accounting for 42 percent of CMS enrollment, the same as last year.
Asian students, a small but steadily growing minority, topped 7,000 for the first time this year. The 7,370 Asian students represent just over 5 percent of all students.
In a separate report, CMS noted that enrollment in magnet schools also grew this year, from 16,805 last year to 17,755.
And the district overestimated the number of Mecklenburg students who would enroll in charters this year. CMS had projected 1,000 more charter students. Instead, enrollment in the public schools that are run by independent nonprofit boards grew by about 600, to roughly 8,800. Observer researcher Marion Paynter contributed.