Colorado public school enrollment continues to fall


Colorado’s public schools continued to lose students last fall, according to new data from the state Department of Education that shows elementaries aren’t the only schools bearing the brunt of the enrollment crisis: middle schools also are teaching fewer children.

Overall enrollment in preschool through 12th grade fell by 3,253 students this academic year, and while the drop is small — less than 1% — it represents a multi-year decline that began in 2020. The drop was most noticeable in kindergarten and middle school grades, which fell 3.82% and 2.24% respectively, according to the department.

“It makes sense this drop-off moves up (to middle schools),” said Kathy Schultz, dean of the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder, adding that, eventually, universities will feel the effects of falling K-12 enrollment.

Statewide, there were 883,264 students enrolled in preschool through 12th grade in October, which is down from 886,517 pupils in 2021, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Education.

Public school enrollment fell for the first time in decades in 2020 as Colorado lost almost 30,000 students during the first year of the pandemic. While it rebounded slightly last year, K-12 enrollment dropped by 1,174 students in 2021 when excluding preschoolers.

The pandemic temporarily pushed enrollment down, but the primary driver is demographic changes, Schultz said.

Declining enrollment, which is occurring across the country, has largely been attributed to falling birth rates and high housing costs that are pushing families from districts, including Denver Public Schools.


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