District 34 study finds increased Hispanic population
District 34 students board the bus at Westbrook School in Glenview. (COURTESY OF DISTRICT 34)
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:12AM
GLENVIEW — A 10-year ethnicity study of Glenview’s School District 34 reveals a rise in Hispanics students, resulting in a need to hire more multilingual teachers and start new language programs, school officials said.
The report stated the number of Hispanics students increased 10 percent to 13.6 percent from 2002 to 2012, or 657 students up from 395.
Addressing the trend, administrators have hired 27 multilingual teachers since 2006, and 64 teachers, or 16 percent, are fluent in non-English languages.
“We’re seeing a lot students who speak another language at home. If we have the staff to reach them in their native language, it helps our students learn,” said Brett Clark, District 34 spokesman who also wrote the study’s summary and findings.
Aside from English, 60 languages are spoken in the district, while Russian, Polish and Korean among the most common.
The survey also found Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific students moved from 11 percent to 14 percent, or from 441 students to 688.
The district already has three parent groups for Spanish speakers at Henking, Hoffman and Springman schools.
Clark said the bilingual and English Language Learning programs were being enhanced, as well as more support for at-risk families and students through preschool and Early Intervention Kindergarten programs.
In the report, Clark said teachers will be given skills for not only working with multilingual students and families, but those who “have struggled with issues of generational poverty.”
The survey also reported the percent of white students fell from 75 to 68, and low-income students went up from 13 percent to 20 percent.
The state defined low income as students whose families were on public aid; who live in institutions for neglected or delinquent children; who live in foster homes with public funds and who receive free or price-reduced lunches.
In December, School Board trustees will receive staff information on possibly starting dual language instruction, in which students speak English and their native language in the classroom.
“By the time they’re done with the program, they’re fluent in English,” Clark said.
Chris Northwick, School Board president, said the ethnic study provided a “historical perspective” on the district.
“For the School Board, this report is a first step in going forward with a robust discussion about programs and challenges,” she said.
Both Clark and Northwick said District 34 embraced the increase in student diversity.
“The demographic presentation showed us the challenges ahead, but it also showed the richness in our district. Our community mirrors other communities in diversity,” she said.
Clark said, “Generationally, Glenview is seen as what happened in early America. It’s still a melting pot. Parents have told me this is why they like living here.”