For the second consecutive year, there are more minority students in the Buena Park School District than Caucasians, a report released this week shows.
According to the study, Latinos make up more than 37% of the student body. Asian students are the second largest minority group and blacks the third.
“We had estimated the minority population at 57% or 58%,” said Supt. Jack Townsend. “It was what we projected.”
Townsend said the increase is due to the construction of new affordable apartments in the city. Schools near those apartments have been affected most, such as Carl E. Gilbert Elementary School on 8th Street, where the population is expected to increase 26% this year alone.
The minority students, many of whom do not speak English, bring with them special needs. As many as 21 bilingual classrooms have been added in the last few years and several other programs are being considered.
This week, a program offering students at Buena Park Junior High an hour of after-school English instruction was added.
While minorities increase, the number of Caucasians continues to decline. Since 1985 the number has dropped from 2,245 to 1,869. The change reflects the statewide trend, school officials said.
For several years the district experienced a downturn in enrollment, reaching an all-time low of 3,000 in the late 1970s. During that time, three school sites were sold. Money from the sales, about $7 million, now is being used to accommodate the new influx of students.
To keep up with increasing enrollment, classrooms have been added at four schools and additional ones are planned. A committee is also looking at ways to distribute the children more evenly among the different sites. One plan is to move students from Beatty and Emery schools to Pendleton school. Beatty has the largest enrollment with more than 869 students.
Townsend said the trend is expected to continue for another four or five years.
“We will probably come up another 400 to 500 children,” he said. He said the district expects to peak near 5,000 total enrollment, depending on economic and other conditions.