With over 144,000 students enrolled throughout 164 schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is the second largest school district in North Carolina and the 18th-largest in the nation.

The Charlotte region’s public school systems offer solid, broad programs that meet the needs of a wide range of students, from special needs to academically gifted, college prep to technical. North Carolina has traditionally encouraged consolidation of public systems so that many counties have a single school system.

In 2011, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools won the Broad Prize for Urban Education given by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The annual prize is the largest education prize in the country. As the winner, CMS received  $550,000 in college scholarships for the class of 2012.

Charlotte Mecklenburg SchoolsElementary Schools

With 91 elementary schools scattered throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, parents won’t have to worry about their children traveling too far to school everyday.

View all CMS elementary schools


Middle SchoolsCharlotte Mecklenburg Middle Schools

There are 39 middle schools in the CMS district, many of which are award-winning establishments. Piedmont IB Middle was named a 2011 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The school was one of eight schools in North Carolina and 304 nationwide to receive the distinction in 2011.

View all CMS middle schools

Charlotte Mecklenburg High SchoolsHigh Schools

CMS high schools continue to exceed statewide averages in many different metrics, including SAT participation and SAT average score. With 31 high schools to choose from, you can be sure your child is getting quality education.

View all CMS high schools

Magnet Schools

CMS features an innovative magnet school program that provides opportunities for students to pursue specific interests in their education. Fourteen magnet programs in 49 schools focus on such subjects as foreign language immersion; communication arts; math, science and technology; visual and performing arts; and accelerated learning.

The Magnet Schools of America gave Cotswold Elementary School’s International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program magnet program the 2011 MSA Special Recognition Award for Elementary School of Excellence. The award recognizes one of the two top magnet elementary schools in the nation.

Private Schools

The Charlotte region has a wealth of independent secular and religious private schools. Some large, well-established schools have huge campuses; others are small and new. There’s even a parochial school system, Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools, which encompasses the county’s eight parochial schools (but not the Catholic schools in Gastonia and Rock Hill).

In Charlotte’s private schools you’ll  find a range of educational offerings, including innovative programs, special classes for students with learning disabilities, religious training and character building. Because each private school has its own distinct philosophy and approach to learning, you’ll want to research schools, talk to parents and take a tour. For more information, visit the Web site www.charlottediocese.org.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are another educational option in the Charlotte region. Originating in Minnesota in the early 1990s, Charter schools are independently operated public schools designed to serve as laboratories for innovation in education. Created and run by parents, teachers and/or community leaders, charter schools receive the same per-pupil funding as other public schools. However, they can spend the money and operate with fewer restrictions and government rules.

The N.C. Board of Education must approve charter schools before they can begin operation. In addition, these schools must undergo periodic reviews to determine that they’re meeting regulations and standards. There are 11 charter schools in Mecklenburg County, two in Gaston County, four in Iredell County, one in Union County, one in York County and one in Cabarrus County.


CMS offers a multitude of programs for students at every level. From the Bright Beginnings program to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, CMS offers something for every student at every level.

Bright BeginningsPortrait of Four Young Mothers with Their Babies

CMS will continue to provide top-rated educational opportunities such as the Bright Beginnings program. Serving over 4,000 students, this program offers a literacy-rich curriculum to 4-year-olds who might otherwise start kindergarten already behind other students. The program has proven its worth by preparing students to be on par with or ahead of their peers as they begin elementary school.

AP and IB

CMS offers both Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs at many of their schools.

At CMS, Advanced Placement programs have exponentially increased over the past 20 years. The number of students enrolled in AP programs has tripled in that time, from 4,079 in 1995-1996 to 12,736 in 2012-2013.

IB programs are no different. CMS currently has 14 schools offering IB programs at three different levels:

  • Primary Years Program (PYP) for grades K-5
  • Middle Years Program (MYP) for grades 6-10
  • Diploma Program for grades 11-12

ABCs of Public Education Accountability Program

CMS participates in the state’s ABCs of Public Education Accountability Program, which establishes standards for performance and improvement for every public school and then assesses the school using results on end-of-grade tests. The program ensures that schools are meeting the educational standards set up by the state and rewards schools that exceed their goals. For ABCs performance information on individual schools, check out the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Web site at www.ncpublicschools.org.