Lenoir Co. schools consider options to combat low enrollment


KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Lenoir County Public Schools are struggling with declining enrollment numbers.

The school system is facing growing pressure to increase efficiency.

There aren’t enough students to fill the classrooms. So at schools like Kinston High, they’re making the most of the extra space, even converting one classroom into a band practice room. But the Board of Commissioners says this inefficiency is a waste of taxpayer money.

Lenoir County Public Schools can house just over 11,000 students, yet enrollment numbers don’t even break 9,000.

The lowest capacities are at Kinston High with less than 65%, Rochelle with just over 60%, and Southeast with less than 45%.

The Facilities Advisory Committee is working through potential options to increase efficiency.

Board of Education Chairman Jon Sargeant says charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling all contribute to the loss.

“Frankly, we’ve got a legislature that is encouraging people, through the voucher program and other programs, to exercise options other than coming to public schools. And I think that’s having an effect on our enrollment,” Sargeant said.

Sargeant says it’s unlikely any decision would be implemented before 2017.

The committee will revisit the issue in the coming weeks. They say if they can find enough students to fill these seats, they might have to consider shutting a school down.

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