Staff reports

Nearly 14 percent of Enid Public Schools students are Hispanic, a figure that outpaces the state average.

According to the annual Oct. 1 student count in Oklahoma public schools, 10 percent of students statewide — out of a record enrollment of 641,721 — are Hispanic, compared to 4.5 percent 10 years ago.

Enid Public Schools demographics, as of December 2007, show Caucasians still make up the majority of the student population, at 67.259 percent, according to Amber Graham Fitzgerald, school and community relations director. Hispanics are the next biggest segment, at 13.748 percent.

The rest of the breakdown is black, 7.901 percent; American Indian, 5.784 percent; Pacific Islander, 3.108 percent; and Asian, 1.948 percent.

According to the official pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade enrollment numbers school officials provided to Oklahoma Department of Education for the 2007-08 school year, the number of Hispanic students increased by 3,590 students statewide based on October 2006 enrollment, with all other minority student groups increasing slightly.

The new federally mandated “multiracial” student group includes 2,726 Oklahoma students.

The “white/non-Hispan-ic” student group was the only one to post a decline — decreasing by 4,802 students.

Oklahoma’s total fall enrollment for the current school year shows a gain of 2,707 students over fall 2006 enrollment, 18,040 more than in 1997 and 62,554 more than in 1990, when implementation of the state’s landmark Education Reform and Funding Act began.

“Significant shifts in Oklahoma’s student demographics continue, and we are clearly headed toward a majority-minority school population in the near future,” said State Superin-tendent Sandy Garrett. “Ad-ministrators and teachers are challenged by language barriers and poverty in meeting the needs of the changing student population.”

During the last decade, the percentage of white students in the state’s public schools has decreased from just more than 68 percent to 57.6 percent this school year. In 1990, white students were 74.2 percent of all students in Oklahoma.

The decline in the percentage of white students represents a decrease in numbers of 54,742 since 1997 and 60,021 since 1990.

The percentages of Asian and black students have increased just slightly during the same time frame.

And, although, the in-creased number of Amer-ican Indian students has been significant over time, the population likely has stabilized, as there was only one more American Indian student in 2007 compared to 2006.

Garrett said increased student enrollment, as well as a fast-changing population, underlines the need for more operations funding for schools for the next fiscal year and a greater investment in students and academic programs afforded them.

“Amid increased academic expectations of students and additional accountability measures, schools are serving more students and, more importantly, serving a student body with a greater diversity of needs,” Garrett said.

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