Officials and families in Riverside District 96’s schools didn’t need the U.S. Census to tell them that the area’s demographics were changing. It was evident to anyone who walked through the doors of the district’s schools between 1998 and 2011.

In the first place, there are many more students roaming the halls in 2011 than in 1998. That year, according to the School Report Card on file with the Illinois State Board of Education, D96 had 1,061 students.

The latest enrollment figures provided by D96 show that the district serves 1,573 students, an increase of 48 percent over that 13-year period. And with the grade schools sporting larger fifth-grade classes this year, Hauser Junior High’s population, which topped 500 in 2011-12, is expected to close in on 600 in 2012-13.

Compare those kinds of numbers to 1998, when Hauser Junior High had just 330 students, according to that year’s School Report Card. In 13 years, the school’s population has jumped 54 percent.

The district has also changed ethnically. In 1998, 92 percent of students in D96 were classified as white. Hispanic students made up 6 percent of the enrollment, while black and Asian students accounted for 0.6 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

The 2011 School Report Card shows that the district’s white population now comprises 69.4 percent of the total enrollment. Hispanic enrollment has risen sharply, to 23.6 percent in 2011. Black and Asian students have also increased, but at a much smaller rate, below 3 percent each.

Students from low-income families now make up about 10 percent of D96’s enrollment, compared to 4 percent in 1998. But despite the rise in the number of Hispanic students over the past 13 years, the percentage of students with limited English proficiency has not increased much.

In 1998, just 1.2 percent of D96 students were classified as limited English speakers. In 2011, that number has risen to just below 5 percent.

In the past two years, the School Report Card has also begun to track the number of students who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), in other words students participating in some aspect of special education services.

In 2011, according to the School Report Card, 17.9 percent of D96 students had an IEP. That was up from 13.5 percent in 2010.

Bob Uphues