CMS says enrollment growth was less than expected

03/05/2014 7:43 PM

03/05/2014 7:43 PM

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools posted new enrollment numbers Wednesday showing less than half the growth reported in October.

CMS had 142,612 students as of the 20th day of school, an increase of 1,441 over the same time last school year, according to the new report. That’s well below the increase of 2,700 students CMS had projected when planning the 2013-14 budget.

The delayed reporting stems from problems with the state’s new PowerSchool data system. In October, Superintendent Heath Morrison told the school board that official reports were delayed, but a tally “using the district’s internal data systems” put 20th-day enrollment at 144,140, an increase of 2,969 students.

Scott McCully, the administrator in charge of student placement, says the slump in actual numbers was spurred partly by growth in charter schools. Some CMS schools in northern Mecklenburg County came in under projections, he said, while some in the south suburbs were even larger than expected.

According to Wednesday’s school tallies, Myers Park High is the district’s biggest school with 2,783 students, followed closely by South Mecklenburg High at 2,746. Community House is the biggest middle school at 1,631 students, and Albemarle Road tops the elementary list with 1,202.

The scaled-back numbers come as CMS is starting to plan its 2014-15 budget. The district, which currently serves just under 80 percent of Mecklenburg’s school-age kids, faces continuing competition from charter schools. The state has approved 11 new charters to open in the Charlotte area in August. Those independently run public schools project that they’ll pull about 2,750 students from CMS next year, though new charters don’t always meet projections.

McCully said he hasn’t locked in a 2014-15 enrollment projection yet.

CMS has yet to release poverty levels and racial breakdowns, citing ongoing PowerSchool problems that are scheduled to be fixed during a March 14 system maintenance.

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