GHENT–The enrollment in the public schools of Columbia County has declined in recent years and at the same time the racial composition of the students in our schools has changed. But while this region is losing public school students while school enrollment is growing nationwide, the changes in racial composition seen here reflect trends happening throughout the U.S.
The racial makeup of the Hudson City School District student body is more diverse than that of the four other districts in the county for which figures are available, but in all districts the percentage of students classified as Latino or multi-race has been increasing, according to data in the New York State Education Department’s Student Information Repository System (SIRS).
All local figures in this article apply to students in kindergarten through 12th grade combined.
In the 2013-14 school year, the percent of students classified as white exceeded 85% in each of four districts—Chatham, Germantown, New Lebanon, and Taconic Hills. In the same year, the Hudson district reported 48% of its students identified as White.
Hudson was the only district that year where African-American students (23.7%) and Latino students (13.1%) comprised double-digit percentages of the enrollment. The figures were also higher in Hudson for students of Asian and multli-race descent.
This report does not include the Ichabod Crane Central School District in Kinderhook, the county’s sixth regular public school district, because some aspects of the 2013-14 data need clarification.
Looking at the other five districts together, the percentage of Latino students increased from 5.3% in 2009-10 to 8.4% in 2013-14. Within that time span, the total number of all students declined, but the number of Latino students increased. In addition, the category called multi-race increased as a share of the total number of public school students from less than 1% to 3.8%.
In Hudson between the 2009-10 and 2013-14 school years, the percent of Latino students increased from 9.4% to 13.1%, the percent multi-race students from zero to 5.3%, and the percent Asian from 7.4% to 9.9%.
The 2010 Census reported that 90.6% of the county’s population identified as white; 4.5% identified as black or African American; 3.9% as Hispanic or Latino; 1.6% as Asian. Other specific racial or ethnic groups accounted for less and 1% each.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that nationwide between 2002 and 2012, white students declined as a total of all public school enrollment from 59% to 51%. Over the same period, the number of black students dipped only slightly, from 17% to 16%. But like the trend here, the number of Hispanic students grew in that period throughout the U.S., increasing from 18% of all students to 24% by 2012. The center projects that Hispanic students will comprise nearly 30% of all public school students by the year 2024.