A slowing economy creates many challenges for families and schools, public and private alike. The migration of students from private to public schools or the closure of private schools is one of the challenges I blogged about last week.
Such changes can have far reaching consequences. So what might the financial impact of these changes look like locally? Let’s try to address that question.
In 2018-19, Wake County had 18,567 students in private schools.
If 5 percent of private school students in Wake County migrate to the public schools, 928 students would be added to enrollment.
What would these changes cost?
in 2018-19, state per pupil support in Wake County was $6,000. Multiply state support by 928 students brings a total additional cost of $5,568,000.
We know however that local funding must also be included in this calculation.
According to the Statistical Profile of the Public Schools of North Carolina, local per student in Wake County was $2,827, multiply by 928 students gives us an additional local cost of $2,623,456.
Therefore, the estimated total cost (state and local) of a 5 percent migration of private school students to Wake County Public Schools would be $8,191,456.
A 10 percent migration – not an unreasonable scenario -doubles the amount, to $16,382,912.
Wake County Public Schools is the largest School District in North Carolina. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools is the second largest school district in North Carolina. It has 18,530 students in private schools, roughly the same number of private school students and similar levels of state and local support. As such, we could assume the county would likely have similar numbers for the scenarios discussed.
A ten percent migration to the public schools in the state’s two most populous counties would generate a fiscal impact of approximately $32.6 million.
While the situation is serious, there are options. Approximately $3 billion of $30.75 billion dedicated to Education Stabilization via the CARES Act has been set aside for The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (G.E.E.R.). North Carolina can receive approximately $95.6 million in G.E.E.R. funding.
These funds could be used to help support private schools, help low income families pay tuition or supplement funding in existing programs.
A recent brief from ExcelinEd outlined various ways governors could help private school families — and in the process — help stabilize all schools and students.