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Durham Public Schools is moving on up!


Higher-performing schools, strong academic growth, and fewer schools labeled as “low-performing”: now Durham Public Schools can add a growing number of students to that list as we are not only moving the needle academically but are also increasing our enrollment.

Early data projects that student enrollment for the first month of 2019-20 will not only be above our planners’ expectations but also reverses a trend of declining student numbers in DPS. Anticipated enrollment for 2019-20 was 32,220, but as of the 14th day of school, DPS’s enrollment is at 32,993 with expectations that it will be higher at the 20th day of school.  This is the first time DPS has seen an increase in enrollment since the 2014-15 school year.

DPS attributes the increase in student enrollment to three things:

  • Academic performance continues to improve, including better results according to State Board of Education standards, driven by the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. The number of “A” and “B” schools has increased, while the number of “low performing” schools has decreased. More DPS schools met or exceeded expectations of academic growth from year to year than the state average.
  • DPS has increased proactive communication about schools’ and the school system’s successes. as well as outreach to families, businesses, and community stakeholders. Strengthening school, family, and community engagement is part of the Strategic Plan. DPS is telling its story to a greater number of followers on social media, visitors to its website, and community meetings across the county.
  • Support of traditional public education from Durham leaders has also played a role. Advocacy from supporters like Mayor Steve Schewel, the new Durham Public Schools Foundation, and the Durham Association of Educators has made the case for more families to become part of the DPS community.

“Our teachers and staff have been doing incredible work for years, and our community has begun to notice,” said DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga. “With more competition than ever before, we are excited to see families recognizing that Durham Public Schools is the best choice.”

DPS leaders will discuss the enrollment growth and provide an update on school facilities, including elementary school crowding and expansion of pre-Kindergarten services, at a joint meeting of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education and the Durham County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 9 a.m. at the Old Courthouse on 200 E. Main St. Official student enrollment numbers for 2019-20 will be provided after the 20th day of school.