Courtney Tanner, Salt Lake Tribune, November 15, 2018
More than half of the new students who entered Utah’s public schools this year are minorities, according to data released Thursday by the Utah Board of Education.
While those diversity numbers continue to steadily climb, the report showed a slowing growth rate overall for enrollment and a steeper trend at charter schools.
The state added roughly 7,561 children in 2018 for a total of 659,909 students in Utah’s K-12 public education system. That’s 1.16 percent growth from last year, down from 1.18 in 2017 and 1.22 in 2016.
While growth is down slightly, Peterson said he’s glad to see that classrooms are increasingly becoming more diverse, particularly in a state that has long been dominantly white.
Utah’s public schools, while still majority white, now have a population that is 26 percent students of color — a record for the state that will likely will continue to be broken each year. Of the nearly 7,500 new students in 2018, more than 4,600 are minorities, or roughly 61 percent.
The state now has 170,325 students of color, growing by more than 4,600 students this year and 4,000 in 2017.
The largest body within the minority is students who identify as Hispanic, which make up roughly 17 percent of the public school population and added more than 3,000 students in 2018.
“It’s a good sign that we are growing in numbers,” said Veronica Zavala, specialist coordinator at Comunidades Unidas, a Utah-based Latino outreach group. “When diversity is coming to the state, I think you can see that we can expand our vision.”