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D.C. Charter Schools' Enrollment Trends Up

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By Kavitha Cardoza

D.C.'s charter school system continued its growth trend with enrollment increasing by six percent compared to last year. There were 29,686 children who enrolled in charter schools for the 2010-2011 academic year. That's approximately 1,700 more students than last year's unaudited figures.

Later this year, there will be an official citywide audit, which will verify each student's residency. That process usually lowers the number a little.

Josephine Baker, the executive director of the Public Charter School Board, says the increase occurred despite closing five schools last year, when more than 500 students had to find other schools.

"A number of students in those schools went to other charter schools. Some probably went to DCPS as well. But in spite of that, we're seeing an increase which is very interesting," Baker says.

She says she attributes the increase to the expansion of three charter schools and the poor economy.

Charter schools now account for almost 40 percent of public school enrollment in the district. This is the first year both traditional and charter schools have posted increases in their enrollment figures. DCPS's unaudited figures show a 1.6 percent increase this year for the first time in almost four decades.

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