​A Stokes County elementary school that officials had discussed closing will remain open for now, despite enrollment numbers.

District leaders projected that enrollment at Pine Hall for the upcoming school year would dip below 100 students, and that's the threshold in order for the state to provide funding for a principal.

An enrollment dip could be caused by a population decrease in the area. According to U.S. Census data, many rural areas in North Carolina are seeing population losses. From 2010 to 2020, Stokes County saw a six percent decrease.

Local residents began a petition to keep Pine Hall Elementary open and the school board held a town hall meeting in May. Since then, more students have enrolled, meaning the school will stay open for now. Stokes County Schools Superintendent Brad Rice says some families are opting for other options these days like home, charter, and online schools, and that can also impact enrollment. He says it's a challenge that many rural districts are facing.

“It's something that we have to monitor," Rice says. "I believe we have nine elementary schools that have less than 200 students. So it's a concern for a lot of reasons and in a lot of areas.”

Rice says he's optimistic that growth in more urban counties like Guilford and Forsyth, some due to the construction of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway, will eventually spill over into his community.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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