Some School Districts Have High Poverty

December 12, 2013

By William Lineberry

In 10 school districts across Virginia, at least one out of every three children — ages 5 to 17 — lives in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week.

The worst school district for children in poverty was the Martinsville school district in southwest Virginia. In this school district, nearly 40 percent of children live in poverty. Other areas of southern and southwestern Virginia made up the majority of the top 10 worst districts for children in poverty.

The Richmond and Petersburg school districts both fell within the top 10 for the most children living in poverty. In Richmond, 36 percent of children live in poverty. In Petersburg, 37 percent of children live in poverty.

Other districts that were in the top 10 for children in poverty were Galax, Northampton, Emporia, Lee and Franklin.

The two districts with the least number of children in poverty were in Northern Virginia. The Falls Church school district had the lowest percentage of children living in poverty with 3 percent. Second to Falls Church was Loudoun County school district with 4 percent of children in poverty.

Statewide, the total of children in poverty was 14 percent, with a near 190,000 children in poverty.

The nonprofit group Voices for Virginia’s Children says the effects of childhood poverty stick with children for their entire lives:

“Children that grow up in poverty are more likely to experience long-term health effects, enter kindergarten already behind, repeat grades and drop out of school and develop social and behavioral problems leading to violence.”

This article is a “Data Drop brief” — a quick-hit posting based on analysis by students in MASC 644 Computer-Assisted Reporting. This was an exercise with just-released data that students did for the final exam.