Poverty rate remains steady in CMS

by Tori Hamby

CHARLOTTE – More than half of students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools qualify as impoverished, according to a district-wide report on student poverty.

Although the number of students receiving free or reduced priced lunches within the system grew by about 1,500 students since last year, enrollment also grew. The poverty rate barely shifted slightly from 54.4 to 54.3 percent.

A district-wide total of 78,000 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches as of Oct. 22, the report states.

But while the poverty rate appears to remain static, standards of who qualifies for the U.S. Department of Agriculture free and reduced price lunch program have not. The department raised baseline income requirements, meaning some families who did not qualify for the program during the 2011-12 school year can use the program during the current school year.

Poverty rates in most Mountain Island-area schools saw varying degrees of change from last year.

Paw Creek Elementary school saw the largest increase in the area, with a 4.5 percentage point jump.

By contrast, West Mecklenburg High reported a 2.6 percentage point decrease.

Long Creek Elementary, Mountain Island Elementary, Hopewell High and Whitewater Academy also reported decreases.

While Whitewater Academy saw a 2.4 point decrease, it reported the highest poverty rate in the area, with 86.3 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Whitewater Middle and Whitewater Academy were the only two schools in the Mountain Island area to report higher than an 80-percent poverty rate.

Bradley Middle reported the lowest poverty, at 31.1 percent.

The district – which released the report to the CMS Board of Education on Nov. 30 – takes an official count of the total number of students receiving free and reduced-priced lunch on the 40th day of each school year.

Poverty rates at Mountain Island-area schools

School Percent Percentage –  point change

Long Creek Elementary 52.4 percent – 0.8 decrease

Mountain Island Elementary 51.9 percent – 2.1 decrease

Oakdale Elementary 81.5 percent – 0.3 increase

Paw Creek Elementary 76.1 percent – 4.5 increase

River Oaks Academy 68.7 percent – 0.6 increase

Whitewater Academy 86.3 percent –  2.4 decrease

Bradley Middle 31.1 percent – 1.4 increase

Coulwood Middle 73.9 percent – 2.5 increase

Whitewater Middle 84.3 percent – 0.2 increase

Hopewell High 44 percent – 0.8 decrease

West Mecklenburg High 76.1 percent – 2.6 decrease

Source: Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

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