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Oklahoma student enrollment grew in 2002

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma's public school enrollment has increased for the first time since 1998, officials said.

This school year, 2,036 more students were enrolled statewide, according to the annual October student counts reported by schools to the Education Department.

The increase is less than 1 percent more than the last school year but marks the first increase in enrollment in four years.

Of the 624,175 students enrolled, 62.6 percent or 390,990 were white, statistics showed. American Indian students made up 17.9 percent or 111,843, of the population.

There were 68,201 black students in Oklahoma schools. They made up 10.9 percent of the population. Seven percent, or 43,787 students were Hispanic, while 1.5 percent or 9,354 were Asian or Pacific Islander.

The number of Hispanic students increased 8.5 percent, while the number of white students declined 1.4 percent, officials said.

State schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett said the increasing Hispanic enrollment _ up 12,983 in the past five years _ is statistically significant.

``As a percentage of the student population, Hispanic students now make up 7 percent of the total compared to 2.7 percent in 1990,'' Garrett said.

``The increasing diversity of Oklahoma's student population presents many challenges and opportunities for educators and for state leaders.''

Student enrollment peaked in 1998 at 628,476. It was at a significantly low point of 578,580 in 1989.

In the Oklahoma City School District, the second largest in the state, black students comprise 35.3 percent, the largest percentage of the 40,000-student district.

Whites make up 28.8 percent, while Hispanic enrollment totals 27.5 percent.
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