by SEAN BATURA
Teen pregnancy rates at San Marcos CISD have hit a record low, declining 42 percent from an all-time high set in 2006.
Forty-eight students were pregnant during the 2010-2011 school year, which ended in May. There were 67 pregnant students in 2009-10, 65 in 2008-09, 79 in 2007-08, and 82 in 2006-07.
Since the school district began keeping statistics in 2002, the school district has averaged 71 pregnancies per year. The high point was 82 pregnancies in 2006-07.
Two of the 48 San Marcos CISD students pregnant in 2010-2011 were in middle school. Seven San Marcos CISD middle school students were pregnant in 2009-10. The district has one unconfirmed junior high pregnancy next school year.
Moreover, the proportion of San Marcos CISD students who became pregnant more than once was smaller this year than in any previously-recorded year. The repeat pregnancy rate this year was less than one percent, said Jennifer Vogel, who directs the district’s School Age Pregnant and Parenting Program.
According to data provided by Vogel, the repeat pregnancy rate for San Marcos CISD student parents was 47 percent in the 2002-03, 42 percent in 2003-04, 31 percent in 2004-05, 17 percent in 2005-06, 15 percent in 2006-07, 11 percent in 2007-08, seven percent in 2008-09, and eight percent in 2009-10.
“The reduction of the repeat rate appears to be one of the biggest contributing factors in our reduction of the number of pregnancies,” Vogel said. “It has been one of our top program goals for four years now, and we have certainly seen the effects, and long term effects.”
Vogel said it has been more than five years since a San Marcos CISD student became pregnant more than twice while enrolled in school. Vogel said the region of San Marcos CISD where Guadalupe County meets Hays County — the hard-scrabble Redwood community — contributes the largest portion of pregnant students enrolled at the district.
In 2010-11, six San Marcos CISD students younger than 15 gave birth. In 2009-10, 14 San Marcos CISD students younger than 15 gave birth. The youngest student pregnant in 2010-11 was 13 years and nine months, and her male lover was 14 years and 11 months. No pregnant students were younger than 14 in 2009-10, Vogel said.
Vogel said the average age of conception among San Marcos CISD students was 15.11 during 2010-11. Vogel said the average student age at birth was 16.7, though this number may change slightly if the student who became pregnant in May delivers the baby.
“We have seen a trend in this change, too, from an average age of conception of 15.4 in 2002-03 — which held fairly steady for several years, which was consistent with a birth age of 16.1,” Vogel said.
Vogel said the district provides “intense social services” through a social worker who serves each student parent.
“This includes very actively discussing and following up with family planning service as a referral process for contraception, and all issues related to continued protection with teens remaining sexually active,” Vogel said.
Vogel said the social worker also encourages academic achievement among student parents.
Vogel said the district terminated childcare services for two teen parents in 2010-11 because the parents failed to attend school. Vogel said most terminations occur because the parents stop attending school or are excessively truant. Vogel said her office addresses issues related to students’ jobs before terminating services. In December, Vogel said the district terminates childcare services for about six teen parents per year.
Vogel said she has proposed a fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget of $180,000 for the district’s School Age Pregnant and Parenting Program. Vogel said her office will eliminate 3.5 personnel positions for FY 2012, though no one at the district is being laid off. Vogel said most of her office’s funding comes from public and private grants. Vogel said her budget this year was $230,000.
“This is also one of the toughest (budget) years,” Vogel said.
Vogel said her office recently discovered the Texas Education Agency Life Skills Grant would not be available next budget year, though the district received the grant this year and in previous years. The district received $57,000 for 2009-10, $55,000 for 2010-11, and expected $55,000 for next budget year, Vogel said.
The district will not finalize its FY 2012 budget until mid to late August.
San Marcos CISD offers child daycare services to students district staff, though Vogel said her office is phasing out services to staff. Her office will not offer childcare services to new staff applicants, though Vogel said she has no plans to terminate services for currently-enrolled staff.
Vogel said an average of 20 district staff were enrolled in childcare services this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen pregnancy costs taxpayers more than $9 billion per year. This cost is related to health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue due to lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers, according to the CDC.
According to the CDC, Texas ranks third in the nation in teenage births, and the U.S. leads the industrialized world in teen births. In 2004, the most-recent year for which data is available, Texas was ranked number one in repeat teen births, according to the CDC. the U.S. birth rate among teenagers is nearly three times more than the teen birth rate in Canada and six to nine times more than the teen birth rates in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland.
“The SMCISD pregnancy rate is comparable to the national norms, but is lower than the state of Texas,” Vogel said. “We are right on the edge of the geographical area for Texas where pregnancy rates drive the state overall rate up — San Antonio and Guadalupe Counties, and Karnes County through the valley, have the highest rates of pregnancy for teens.”
(Assistant Editor’s note: Additionally, student enrollment at San Marcos CISD has been somewhat “flat” over the last few years. There were 7,417 students enrolled at San Marcos CISD in 2010-11, 7,434 enrolled in 2009-10, 7,438 enrolled in 2008-09, 7,382 enrolled in 2007-08, and 7,216 enrolled in 2006-07, according to the Texas Education Agency.)Email | Print