Most Elementary Students Here Are Hispanic

For the first time in the history of the Long Beach Unified School District, Hispanic students have become the majority population in local elementary schools. During the past decade, Hispanic enrollment in the district has doubled. Latinos now constitute 50.6 percent of enrollment in kindergarten through fifth grade. The 2000 Racial and Ethnic Survey of Students here in California's third largest school system was released recently. The annual survey reveals that 23,933 of the 47,332 children enrolled in 63 local elementary schools are now Hispanic, up from 48.6 percent a year earlier. The newest elementary school enrollment figures provide an early picture of districtwide trends. Steady Hispanic growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, because 55 percent of this year's kindergartners are Hispanic, and thousands of Latino infants, toddlers and preschoolers will soon enter kindergarten. As these children move up through the grades, schools will continue to reflect the changing demographics of Southern California. The 2000 Census results recently confirmed that Hispanics now represent the largest racial/ethnic group in Long Beach. The annual racial ethnic survey of students is taken in local schools each fall and then reported each spring. Since 1966, Hispanic enrollment has climbed tenfold, from 4.6 percent then to nearly 46 percent of the total student population today. According to the survey, total school district enrollment in kindergarten through high school now stands at 45.4 percent Hispanic, 19.7 percent Black, 17.8 percent White, 11.5 percent Asian, 3.1 percent Filipino, 2.1 percent Pacific Islander and 0.3 percent American Indian or Alaskan native. Hispanic enrollment is expected to exceed 50 percent of the district's total enrollment by 2004. Based upon recent enrollment trends, Hispanic enrollment here is expected to grow about 2 percentage points during each of the next three years. In 1989, Hispanic students first became the largest racial/ethnic group in the district, with 30.8 percent of the total student body, surpassing the white enrollment of 30.2 percent. Since then, the Hispanic student population has continued to increase by an average of nearly two percentage points a year.