If you’re in the process of choosing a community to build your new home in, you’re likely concerned about finding the right school for your kids. Fortunately, there are a number of school systems in and around Charlotte that offer flexibility and choice in what type of school you want your kids to attend. You can opt for a school close to home or select a school with specialty traits that fit your needs such as Montessori or language-immersion.
If you decide to enroll your children in an assigned home school – a school located within your residential community in which your home is included within the school’s boundaries – your children are guaranteed a seat. Alternatively, you can choose a different educational option to match your child’s interests, talents, and potentials. We’ll touch on the process for enrolling in these optional schools later.
Outside of the traditional school platform are charter schools. These are tuition-free public schools authorized by the state and governed by an independent nonprofit board or not-for-profit organization. Charter schools allow you to enroll students across county boundaries, offering another option to find the best school options for your family.
You can also choose a magnet school, or a school that offers specialty programs and themes that cater to your child’s talents and interests. Some magnet schools can be geared toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) while others have a focus on the performing arts.
In Charlotte, most public schools have broken down the grades into three groups: K-5 elementary schools, 6-8 middle schools, and 9-12 high schools. Although, in some neighborhoods, K-5 and 6-8 have been combined into one school.
A Variety of Learning Approaches
The school districts in and around Charlotte offer a wide array of alternative learning approaches to best suit your child’s needs:
Using specially designed and developmental materials, the Montessori program provides multi-age environments in which students learn via self-motivated activities. Emphasizing independence, this style of learning is geared toward observing the child’s characteristics and abilities and catering support in those areas.
Visual & Performing Arts
Schools with a specific focus on the arts develop students’ talents and passions in this area, using arts-integration instruction at the elementary level, and intensive instruction at the secondary level. Academics are not neglected in this learning approach but rather fused with the arts for a unique educational opportunity.
World Language & Dual Language/Immersion
Students in world language and immersion programs will benefit from a global perspective and appreciation for the history, language, and cultures of other nations. Language immersion courses are available for those who wish to learn secondary languages in a practical environment.
For students looking to enhance their talents and strengths in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, focused schooling is available. Those looking to integrate the Arts into their STEM programs also have specialty schooling options available to them.
Blended & Virtual Learning
Today’s students may find a blended education system more appropriate with a combination of face-to-face and online instruction. This schooling option is available to high school level students.
Choosing the best learning option for your child is an important step in your child’s education, so it’s encouraged to attend open houses and information sessions to learn more about each school and its unique offerings.
Great Options, No Matter Where You Live
Depending on where in Charlotte you choose to build your home, you’ll fall under the jurisdiction of one of the following school districts:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System (CMS)
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System serves almost 150,000 students over 176 schools throughout the Mecklenburg County area. This makes it the largest school district in the city and the second-largest in the entire state. CMS covers all grades from K-12.
The CMS School Choice Program
If you’re not enrolling your child in a home school, CMS offers alternative schooling choices through its School Choice Program. This program allows you to match your child to a school catered to his or her needs and potentials. There are now nearly 70 magnet schools available across CMS.
Students interested in enrolling in these schools will need to apply via the school choice lottery. To do so, you’ll need to select up to three schools that best match your child’s interests and talents and include them in your application. Once the lottery results have been determined and you did not get your first choice, you’ll be placed on a waiting list for that school.
Students accepted into the CMS School Choice programs are guaranteed transportation to schools within their transportation zone.
York County School District
Just across the border into South Carolina, the York County School District covers areas such as Lake Wylie and covers 10 schools including just over 5,000 students from grades K-12. As well as the regular schooling options, York County School District also offers Montessori Programs (at schools like Hunter Street Elementary), Reading Recovery, STEM and GreenSTEM programs and a MERIT Gifted/Talented program.
Union County Public Schools
Union County Public Schools district is located to the south of Charlotte, near Monroe. It covers around 53 schools of all grades and around 41,500 students. These schools will cover STEM, Health Sciences, Agriculture, the International Baccalaureate Program at Marvin Ridge High, and the arts at schools such as Benton Heights.
Cabarrus County Schools District
The Cabarrus County Schools District covers the northeast section of the Charlotte area and includes 40 schools (with two more due to open soon) with more than 33,000 students of all grades. Specialized programs include International Baccalaureate, Spanish and Mandarin dual-immersion programs, STEM, Fine Arts and Health Sciences.
Lincoln County Schools District
Located in the northwest area of Charlotte and serving areas such as Lake Norman, the Lincoln County Schools District is home to 11,500 students over 23 schools. This district also offers STEM schools (such as the Lincoln County School of Technology), Agricultural and Health Sciences programs, dual-immersion schools and an Academically & Intellectually Gifted Education Program.
Doing Your Research
Check out a variety of school ratings online as well:
These sites (and others) have rating systems and reviews from real people, giving you an insider’s perspective.
As you can see, the schooling options in and around Charlotte are very diverse and encourage families to select a school and learning approach best suited to their child’s needs. With a variety of school types, learning approaches, and magnet programs, you’ll find exactly the right education for your family’s needs when you make your home here.