More than half of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's 154 schools now have minority enrollment of 75 percent or higher, and about two-thirds of the district's black and Hispanic students attend those schools.
A similar proportion of the district's shrinking white population can be found in a smaller number of majority-white schools, located mostly in the southern and northern suburbs.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' 2008-09 enrollment tally offers a snapshot of a district in transition. White enrollment has been ebbing for the past decade, while Hispanic, black and Asian enrollment grows. Meanwhile, the end of court-supervised desegregation means schools are looking more like neighborhoods, where people tend to cluster with others of the same race.
The numbers hint at challenges facing community leaders and parents: Will CMS come to resemble cities across the country, where whites and affluent minorities abandon urban schools? Can CMS enlist top faculty for schools where most students come from disadvantaged backgrounds? Will families who value diversity continue to find it?
Many schools still attract a racial mix. Smithfield Elementary, a south Charlotte neighborhood school, is a nearly even balance of black, white and Hispanic children. Some magnets, such as Smith Language Academy, entice families of all races and nationalities.
But more and more, in magnets and neighborhood schools, CMS students go to schools where most classmates look like them.