By Pat Maurer
According to U.S. Census figures recently released, all but one of the schools in Clare and Osceola Counties are showing an increase in the percentage of students at, or below the poverty level for households.
Wikipedia says the government’s definition of poverty is based on total income received. For example, they report that the poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050 (total yearly income) for a family of four. “Most Americans (58.5%) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75,” the site said.
The site said, “The ‘absolute poverty line’ is the threshold below which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health.”
The 2011 nationwide average of children between the ages of 5 and 17 that live in families ranked in the poverty level is 20.8 percent.
According to the U.S. Census data released in September 2011, in 2008, 13.2% (39.8 million) Americans lived in relative poverty.
In 2000, the poverty rate for individuals was 12.2% and for families was 9.3%. The nation’s poverty rate rose to 15.1% (46.2 million) in 2010, up from 14.3% (approximately 43.6 million) in 2009 and to its highest level since 1993.
The Free Press reported last week that Hamtramck had one of the highest school-age poverty rate at more than 65 percent. They reported that nine Michigan school districts have school-age poverty rates higher than 50 percent.
In Clare County, each of the three schools has shown an increase in the number of students at or below poverty levels, while in Osceola County; two of the three districts have a larger percentage of students at or below the poverty levels in 2011 with only Marion showing a decrease.
An average of the two counties shows that 29.2 percent of school-age youngsters live in families that exist at or below the poverty level. In Clare County the average is 36.5 percent. In Osceola County it is 25.5 percent.
The Clare School District 2011 population was 1,551 students with 27.6 percent estimated at or below the poverty level, an increase from 21.5 percent in 2007 numbers.
Farwell showed a larger increase with 37.6 percent of 1,637 students in 2011 estimated below the poverty level compared to 24.1 percent in 2007.
The number of Harrison students at or below poverty level in 2011 was even higher at 44.5 percent of 1,819 students. In 2007 the number below poverty level was 30.8 percent.
In Osceola County’s Marion Schools, the number of students estimated at or below the poverty level went down slightly when comparing the two years, showing a slight decrease in the poverty level from 29.4 percent in 2007 to 27.6 percent in 2011. The number of students in the district also dropped slightly from 783 to 757.
At McBain Schools, the percentage increased significantly since 2007, with 22.1 percent of the 1,172 students in 2011 at the poverty level compared to 15.8 percent in 2007. The district’s population only varied by one student in comparing the two years.
Evart Schools with 1,347 students in 2011 had 26.8 percent at or below the poverty level. In 2007 the number was 15.8 percent with 104 fewer students in the district.