An interesting bit of data popped up at a meeting earlier this month between Walnut Creek School District and Walnut Creek City officials. In talking about the need to preserve the counseling program at Walnut Creek elementary and middle schools, despite budget cuts, Superintendent Patty Wool noted that a growing number of students might be in need of help, possibly because their families are facing financial hardship in this down economy. As evidence of this financial hardship, she noted that a growing number of students in the district are qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunches.
This first chart (Soccer Mom trying to play with Google graphs) shows schools and districts that experienced the most notable increases in the percentage of students in their populations who qualified for free or reduced-priced meals. The school years covered are 1998-99, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2008-09.
This second graph shows percentage of students in Contra Costa County, the three Walnut Creek school districts, and individual schools who qualified to receive free and reduced priced lunches. The region, district and schools are listed in the order (top to bottom) of those with the highest percentages. This data, from the California Department Education, shows percentages for the school years 1998-99, 2003-04, 2005-06 and 2008-09. The numbers in some schools stayed steady, some went down, but a fair number increased a little or a lot.
Special note: In my playing with charts, I left off the percentages for Walnut Acres Elementary, which consistently had the lowest percentage of students in this program. No disrespect to Walnut Acres. Those numbers are: 1998-99, 1; 2003-04, 1; 2005-06, 2; 2008-09, 2.