CROSSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A Sand Mountain elementary school is the first in the state to have a Hispanic majority enrollment, school officials said.
The DeKalb County Board of Education said Crossville Elementary has 900 students and nearly 53 percent — 475 — are Hispanic.
At the end of the 2006-07 academic year, Hispanics made up 48 percent of the school’s 873 students. But their numbers were lower than for the other students, most of them listed as white or Native American.
This year, the Hispanic student number rose from 420 to 475, while the number of white students dropped from 390 to 374, and the Native American numbers stayed the same. The school has three black students.
The large number of Hispanic students has created a communication problem for some, The Birmingham News reported Friday.
“There are three or four in the class who cannot communicate with me at all,” said kindergarten teacher Abby Davis, who has 17 students, 13 of them Hispanic.
Most of the Hispanic students need extra English language instruction and the extra time teachers spend with students who have trouble with English has been a problem with some white parents, prompting them to withdraw their children and enroll them elsewhere, Davis said.
“They think their child is going to be left behind,” she said.
Last fall there were 414 white students at the school, but there are 40 fewer this year.
“We’ve lost some kids and we’ve gained some,” said Assistant Principal Ed Burke. “It’s just all evened out as far as that goes.”
The number of Hispanic students around the state has been growing in public schools, but the percentage is small. Last fall, the state’s K-12 enrollment was 739,760, and the Hispanic share was slightly more than 3 percent, 23,219 students. Hispanics made up less than 3 percent of Alabama’s population in 2006.
In other areas with large Hispanic populations — such as Boaz, Russellville and Albertville — education officials said none of their schools had a Hispanic majority. In DeKalb County, Hispanics account for 9 percent of the more than 68,000 residents.
There are 1,559 Hispanic students in the county public school system this year, which is 18 percent of the 8,810 students.
Information from: The Birmingham News
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