The number of students attending public schools in Newark topped 52,000 for the first time in at least three decades, with more than 1,291 students added during the 2018-19 school year, according to recently released state data.

Both district and public charter schools added students, with district schools adding 146 students and charters adding 1,145 students.

Newark's district schools still educate the bulk of Newark's students. More than 65 percent of the city's children attend district schools. Last year, Newark district schools enrolled 33,897 students.

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The number of students enrolled in Newark public schools has been on the upswing since 2011, when the the city hit a low of 39,100 students. The student population has risen every year since then.

“This state data is confirming what everyday people have been seeing for years: families are coming back to Newark to raise their children and find high quality schools," said Kyle Rosenkrans, executive director of the New Jersey Children's Foundation. 

"This is an auspicious accomplishment for educators in the city’s district and charter schools," Rosenkrans said.

Last week, the New Jersey Children’s Foundation and MarGrady Research released A New Baseline: Progress in Newark’s District and Charter Schools from 2006 to 2018, which showed the dramatic progress Newark's public schools have made in recent years, including steady growth in citywide enrollment.

Charter schools enrolled 18,125 students last year, about 35% of the students in Newark, up slightly from 33.4% a year earlier. 

The charter school population grew despite the closure of Lady Liberty Academy Charter School after the 2017-18 school year, which enrolled 460 students.

Charter schools got their start in New Jersey in 1997 with just a handful of schools opening in Newark. In 1999, charters enrolled just 259 students, or less than 1% of the school age population. Most elementary charter schools enroll students beginning in kindergarten and first grade and add a grade each year