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Private school enrollment up 10% in NC, as legislators weigh voucher expansion

Private school enrollment rose 10% in North Carolina last year, according to data released yesterday. The increase comes as legislators prepare to dramatically expand public subsidies for private school tuition.

Last year North Carolina had almost 127,000 students enrolled in almost 900 private schools, according to the new tally. That’s up 10% over the previous year and 24% over the past four years.

Just over two-thirds of last year’s private school students attended religious schools. Wake and Mecklenburg counties have seen smaller one-year and four-year increases. Wake’s enrollment grew 17% over four years while Mecklenburg’s grew almost 13%. As of last year Wake’s 95 private schools had almost 22,000 students.

Mecklenburg County had 103 private schools with almost 21,000 students. North Carolina currently offers Opportunity Scholarships, or vouchers, to help low- and moderate-income families pay tuition.

A plan supported by the Republican majority in the General Assembly would open the program to families at all income levels and increase the money for private-school subsidies from almost $95 million last year to more than half a billion dollars a year by 2031.