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Ennis Daily News

EISD serves many lower income kids

District sees large number of disadvantaged students
Growth for many communities is inevitable and when cities grow, it’s often due to job creation. That’s the case in Ennis where new industry continues bringing new families into the city.
However, despite job creation and growth in business, the percentage of families with children who fall into the economically disadvantaged range in Ennis’ school system remains high.
According to statistics from Ennis Independent School District for the 2007-2008 school year, 60 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged and eligible for either free or reduced lunches under the National School Lunch Program.
A break down of the figures shows that on any campus within the district at least half of the students are economically disadvantaged. EISD communications director Henry Martinez feels the figures could be indicative of a single-family income.
“The Ennis community has a lot of traditional families with a single income earner which means for those families it is easy to fall within the scope of the economically disadvantaged category,” he said.
Under the National School Lunch Program, a family of four must have an annual income of less than $26,845 to be eligible for free lunches. To meet the requirements for the reduced-price lunch program, the same family would have to make less than $38,203 a year.
The two EISD campuses with the lowest number of students participating in the programs were at the junior high and high school levels.
Those figures are on average 10 percent lower than the rest but may not be an accurate look at the level of need for the students attending those schools.
“At that age the students do not want to deal with the stigma attached to participating in the lunch programs,” said Linda Pirtle, director of program development for EISD. “Also, they have part-time jobs so they are self-sufficient and buy their own meals.”
According to figures on the Texas Education Agency website, for the 2006-2007 school year Ennis had the highest number of students in Ellis County participating in the free or reduced lunch programs with a total of more than 2,700 students.
The most recent figures regarding economically disadvantaged students within the district are as follows: Ennis Early Childhood Center – 67.8 percent, Austin Elementary – 63.1 percent, Bowie Elementary – 67.3 percent, Houston Elementary – 69.5 percent, Travis Elementary – 68.6 percent, Ennis Intermediate School – 65 percent, Ennis Sixth Grade Center – 60.2 percent, Ennis Junior High School – 53.9 percent and Ennis High School – 50.3 percent.
Pirtle says while the numbers may seem high, they are on par with the rest of the county.
“Ennis is an enterprising, hard working, blue collar community but we are not a wealthy community,” she said. “However, the figures on the TEA website are indicative of most school districts.”
Although the number of families needing assistance may be news to some, it doesn’t surprise Helping Hands executive director Jo Wesley. Wesley, who uses the figures from EISD in her efforts to gain grant funding, is aware of the increasingly difficult situation families are finding themselves in.
“The number of people sliding into poverty these days is increasing and with the price of essential items climbing higher and higher, it is going to cause limitations on parents’ resources,” Wesley said. “We know because of the assistance requests we receive that the need is high and steadily climbing. What does surprise me however, is the number of students receiving assistance at the secondary school levels because usually those kids do not want anyone to know they need help.”
Despite what could be considered family hardships, students in Ennis ISD continue to excel and the district is pleased by their success.
With repeatedly positive TEA standings, Pirtle says she is proud of the dedication from parents toward their children’s education.
“Our students’ achievements are great and it shows a dedicated work ethic on behalf of the parents and teachers,” she said. “We all work together to get past any outside hardships to give the students the best possible education.”

Candie Beck-Adams is community editor for the Ennis Daily News. She can be reached at candie@ennisdailynews.com

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Posted by on Mar 31 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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