While enrollment numbers are up in some Shelby County private schools, officials are reluctant to attribute the increase to the unification of the county and city public school systems.
Sharon Masterson, director of communications for St. Benedict at Auburndale, said few area parents have cited the creation of the unified district as incentive for enrollment.
“We really haven’t seen an extraordinary number interested because of the situation with the public schools,” Masterson said. “Our enrollment is pretty consistent each year.”
Beth Rooks, director of communications for Briarcrest Christian School, noted that “a few families” have mentioned their concerns with the unified district while touring the school. However, she was hesitant to name the unified district as a primary reason for the uptick in admissions.
“We have seen an increase in enrollment,” she said. “But you can’t attribute that to one thing.”
Rooks said the school’s growing art and music programs are more likely the cause for increased enrollment.
As the inaugural year of Shelby County Schools approaches, Masterson said she has begun to field more calls with questions about admissions.
“I will say,” she said, “in the last couple of weeks, we are getting an increase of phone calls inquiring about admissions.”
However, Masterson said families currently enrolled in public schools often fail to take into consideration the availability of space in private schools.
“Many think that ‘registration’ is similar to the public schools, but that’s not the case,” she said. “There are several steps that take place in the admissions process in a private school. So, many times families wait until the last minute to start the process in a private school. A college-prep, private school application and admissions process is similar to college.”
Noting that the admission process is not “tedious,” Rooks said there are waiting lists for some grade levels at Briarcrest.