8-27-2021 – Caldwell County Schools see enrollment increase

Posted on: August 27th, 2021 by admin

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August 27, 2021

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By Carmen Boone cboone@newstopicnews.com

Aug 26, 2021

 

For this year, at least, the Caldwell County Schools have seen an increase in enrollment — just the second time that has happened since a long-term slide in enrollment began nearly 15 years ago.

 

But local officials hope it is the beginning of a trend.

 

On the first day of classes, 11,082 students were enrolled, said Libby Brown, community services director for the Caldwell County Schools. In 2020, the number was 10,792.

 

But the 2020 number may have been depressed by pandemic-related factors, including the uncertainty of in-person attendance and how COVID-19 was trending. Except for last year, the current enrollment is the lowest in more than 20 years.

 

According to enrollment statistics available on the Caldwell County Schools’ website, enrollment reached its peak in the 2007-08 school year, when 13,116 students were in school across the district. Since then, however, enrollment decreased every school year except for 2015-16, when enrollment went up by 43 students, until this year. At the start of the 2019-20 year, before anyone had heard of COVID-19, enrollment was 11,241.

 

“Progressively, we’ve seen enrollment decreasing within that time frame,” Brown said. “So we’ve kind of turned that corner with these higher numbers this year.”

 

One of the reasons local government officials have cited in the past for the long-term drop in enrollment was the sharp economic shock of the Great Recession. The recession was in 2008, but its effects rolled out and deepened over several years, driving local unemployment to 13% in 2012 — and many young families left the region seeking better working opportunities.

 

Brown said that Caldwell County’s economy, which has diversified since the recession and has been surging in recent years, now appears to be spurring an increase in young families again. People are coming to Caldwell County from as far away as California and New York.

 

“Families are finding jobs here. Most of the families moving here have school-age children,” Brown said. “There is job availability in this county and affordable living costs.”

 

Superintendent Don Phipps said in a press release he is excited to see numbers finally going back up again.

 

“Our numbers are up, which indicates that we’ve turned the corner from the lag in enrollment experienced over the last several years,” he said. “We are enthusiastic to see more students entering public schools and confident that our students will be provided rigorous academic opportunities in a safe, caring learning environment.”

 

Reporter Carmen Boone can be reached at 828-610-8723

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