CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A brand-new fine arts center opens its doors to an ever-increasing student base at catholic schools across the Charlotte area.

This comes as public school enrollment drops, numbering in the thousands.

Wednesday was the new Fine Arts Center opening act at Charlotte Catholic High School.

Donors footed the $21-million bill to build a 47,000 square-foot facility with a 600-seat auditorium, art rooms, a band, chorus, dancing, and a digital lab.

Pre-K will use the new center through 12th graders at Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools.

“We’ve continued to grow; people continue to find us. We’re a school for all people, and we want this place to be a hub for creative, cultural arts,” said Greg Monroe, Superintendent of Catholic Schools.

More parents who can afford it are choosing private schools in Mecklenburg County.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools enrollment dropped by more than 6,000 students last year compared with pre-pandemic, which was the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

CMS expects a slight jump in students enrolled this coming year over last year.

Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools’ enrollment has climbed by more than 700 students this coming school year compared with pre-pandemic, the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

The head of Gaston Christian School explains why many parents initially moved to private schools.

“It goes back to COVID,” said Dr. Marc Stout, Head of Gaston Christian School. “When COVID hit, and we were doing school five days a week, and a lot of the public schools were doing in class two days a week, families just said, well, that doesn’t work for us. And so we had 120 students come to the school in a two-week period in the fall to enroll.”