Durham County

DPS steps up efforts to compete for students in North Durham

School board Chairman Mike Lee (pictured) wants Durham Public Schools to do a better job of marketing its schools.
School board Chairman Mike Lee (pictured) wants Durham Public Schools to do a better job of marketing its schools.

Last month, school board Chairman Mike Lee said he wanted Durham Public Schools to do a better job of marketing programs to compete with the growing number of charter schools that are luring students away.

DPS’ administration has taken Lee’s message to heart.

On May 13, DPS will hold an event to show off the district’s schools in the northern part of the county where the competition with charter schools is most fierce.

“That is a direct result of my expressing a need for us to do a better job of marketing,” Lee said of the event.

The Northern Durham School Showcase will take place at Lucas Middle School, 923 Snow Hill Road, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. May 13.

Little River K-8 School, Eno Valley and Mangum elementary schools, Brogden, Carrington and Lucas middle schools and Northern High School will all have representatives at the site to answer questions that students and their parents may have about the schools.

In addition, representatives from the Office of Student Assignment, Transportation, Advanced Academics (AIG), Exceptional Children and others will be available to answer questions about the district.

“I hope we can get the families in Durham to take a look at those schools,” Lee said. “There are a lot of options available, but we want to show them that DPS is the best choice of schools for their children.”

Lee said the May 13 event is the first generated by the board’s interest in stepping up efforts to better market DPS schools.

He said others could be scheduled once the district gauges interest in the May 13 event.

In March, Lee told his colleagues told his colleagues that DPS can no longer afford to concede enrollment losses to the county’s 13 charter schools.

He noted frequent advertising on social media for Discovery Charter School, a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.)-themed middle school planned for Northern Durham that’s expected to open next year with 350 sixth-and seventh-graders.

Discovery Charter was scheduled to open in September but its creators decided to delay the opening one year while the county fends off a possible lawsuit over the approval of the school’s site plan.

DPS’ stiffest competition for students in Northern Durham is Voyager Academy, which enrolls nearly 1,300 students in grades K-12.

Before the Discovery Charter decision, DPS projections had called for charter school enrollment to grow by 700 students. That number is now around 300 students.

Meanwhile, DPS’ enrollment is expected to decline for the second consecutive year.

Greg Childress: 919-419-6645, @gchild6645