York Suburban schools see increase in Hispanic, lower-income students

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

The demographics at York Suburban School District are changing to become more racially and economically diverse, according to data released by the district.

During a regular board meeting Monday, Oct. 23, York Suburban School District administrator Tawn Ketterman presented data on new students that showed an increase in Hispanic students and students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches under standards set by the Department of Agriculture.

The district saw 186 new students enroll for the 2017-18 school year, with the highest number of transfers (85) coming from other school districts within York County.

Ten of the students returned to York Suburban from area charter schools, according to the presentation.

Diversity increasing: The racial makeup of new students differs from state data of districtwide demographics.

For instance, of the 186 new students at York Suburban, 39 — or 20.9 percent — are Hispanic.

Excluding the new students, 6.5 percent of existing students at at York Suburban are Hispanic, according to the presentation.

A three year trend of new students shows a consistent increase in Hispanic students enrolling at York Suburban School district, while white enrollment has declined by 17 percentage points.

The number is a dramatic increase from the 2015-16 school year, when just 8.3 percent of new students at York Suburban were Hispanic.

In turn, the number of students with a Limited English Proficiency has increased, with 14 percent of new students enrolling with the designation.

Although white students made up the majority of new students at York Suburban, the percentage has decreased over the last three years.

In the 2015-16 school year, nearly 68 percent of new students were white. Last year, that percentage dropped to 51.6 percent.

Still, white students remain the significant majority overall at York Suburban, comprising more than 73 percent of the student body.

Multi-racial students are the second most populous race at 8.6 percent, and Hispanic students make 7.4 percent of Suburban's population.

The district's black and Asian student populations have remained fairly consistent at 6.3 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

Free lunches up: The percentage of students at York Suburban receiving free and reduced lunch is 33 percent, but among new students there is a marked difference from the district average.

More than half of new students qualify for free and reduced lunch, according to the presentation.

Data compiled at York Suburban School District shows half of newly enrolled students had a household income that qualified for free and reduced lunch under federal guidelines.

Free and reduced-price school meals are largely determined by household income guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For example, a family of four must earn $31,980 a year or less for children in the home to qualify for free meals. Children from a household of four with income from $31,981 to $45,510 would qualify for reduced-price meals.

The average income for a resident at York Suburban is $76,829, according to personal income data compiled by the Department of Education.

Reaction: Several board members called the information eye-opening and helpful to knowing the broader changes occurring within the district.

“I think this is really valuable information for the entire community,” York Suburban school board member Lois Ann Schroeder said.

“If you ask me, I think I know our school district, but I’m sort of surprised by some of these (statistics), and I think — certainly — the average resident would say, ‘Hmm, wow, I didn’t know that.’”

— Reach education reporter Junior Gonzalez via email at jgonzalez@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter @EducationYD