Jeffco Public Schools, Colorado’s second-largest school district, is proposing to close 16 elementary schools across Denver’s suburbs as the district faces declining enrollment, according to a presentation given to the school board on Thursday.
The district’s Board of Education will vote on Nov. 10 on whether to approve the recommended closures, which would affect more than 2,400 students and 422 full-time employees at schools in Arvada, Evergreen, Lakewood, Littleton, Westminster and Wheat Ridge.
Most of the school closures would take place next year, ahead of the 2023-24 school year. Though one — Bergen Meadow Elementary — would close ahead of the 2024-25 academic year.
Here are the Jefferson County schools the district is recommending should be closed:
- Emory Elementary School in Lakewood
- Peck Elementary School in Arvada
- Thomson Elementary School in Arvada
- Campbell Elementary School in Arvada
- Peiffer Elementary School in Littleton
- Colorow Elementary School in Littleton
- Green Mountain Elementary School in Lakewood
- Bergen Meadow Elementary School in Evergreen
- Molholm Elementary School in Lakewood
- Glennon Heights Elementary in Lakewood
- Parr Elementary School in Arvada
- Sheridan Green Elementary School in Westminster
- Witt Elementary School in Westminster
- New Classical Academy at Vivian in Lakewood
- Wilmore-Davis Elementary School in Wheat Ridge
- Kullerstrand Elementary School in Wheat Ridge
The district has 157 schools, including charter schools. Of those, 142 schools are managed by the district.
K-12 school districts across Colorado and the U.S. are seeing fewer students enroll and are considering ways to consolidate. That includes Denver Public Schools, which is also looking to close schools in the coming years. Statewide K-12 enrollment fell by 1,174 students to 855,482 pupils in fall 2021.
Jeffco Public Schools saw one of Colorado’s largest declines in enrollment, with the district losing more than 5,000 students between 2019 and 2022, according to the presentation given to the school board. The district has the capacity to serve 96,000 students, but only has about 69,000 students.
Elementary schools are feeling the brunt of the crisis — more than half have fewer than 250 students and/or use less than 60% of their building capacity.
In the past two years, Jeffco Public Schools has abruptly closed two small schools in the spring because of what it called “unsustainable enrollment projections for the upcoming school year.”
There are multiple factors leading to declining enrollment, including shifting populations and falling birth rates. The pandemic has also affected schools as families lost jobs or moved. Falling enrollment hits schools financially as their funding is based on the number of students they have — so when students leave, they get less money.
Jeffco Public Schools said that while the overall population in Jefferson County grew between 2000 and 2020, the 2020 Census shows the population dropped among both school-aged children and kids ages 5 and younger.