DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Public Schools is addressing its ongoing issue of declining enrollment with a plan to evaluate each school with fewer than 215 students individually. 

DPS said it has experienced a shrinking student population over the past several years and is projected to lose another 3,000 students over the next five years.

Last year, Denver’s school board voted down the superintendent’s recommendation to close 10 schools because of low enrollment. Thursday, the superintendent presented a revised plan and timeline to deal with the issue. 

“Tonight’s presentation was a snapshot of enrollment focusing on schools that had the lowest enrollment under 215 students and also our plan to engage those communities, simply that,” Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero said. “It was not a recommendation for unification or closure.”

Low-enrollment Denver schools under the microscope

The 15 schools in question include:

  • Denver Discovery
  • Math and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA)
  • Fairview Elementary
  • International Academy of Denver at Harrington
  • Columbian Elementary
  • Schmitt Elementary
  • Hallett Academy
  • Palmer Elementary
  • Kaiser Elementary
  • Whittier K-8
  • Colfax Elementary
  • Eagleton Elementary
  • Ashley Elementary
  • Beach Court Elementary
  • Cole Arts & Sciences Academy

Marrero and his team plan to meet with families and faculty at each school between March and August to decide the best course of action for the future. Options include closure, unification, phasing out incoming grades and other ideas yet to be determined. 

Three of the 15 schools are considered to have critically low enrollment. According to Marrero, school choice data shows Denver Discovery may have only six sixth graders in the fall. MSLA and Fairview would each have seven kindergarteners. The district projects actual class numbers could be 15, 12 and 23, respectively.

“Clearly, we cannot function with those numbers, so what we will do is engage immediately with those communities to come up with solutions, and those solutions can be another unification effort, meaning that will be my recommendation, or it can be something more creative: no kindergarten, no sixth grade, and it’ll be a slower way of the school ultimately closing,” Marrero said.

School closures could be decided by April

The district will begin engaging with those three communities in March to determine next steps. If it is determined that those schools must close, DPS would spend April through August supporting school staff with relocation to a guaranteed position within the district and helping students and families transition to different schools. 

The other 12 schools will go through a similar process of community engagement in the spring and summer to determine the best course of action for each campus. Marrero would then present his recommendations for the 2024-25 school year to the school board in September.