DENVER (KDVR) — A plan to close 10 schools in the Denver Public Schools district has been cut to five as leaders prioritize schools with enrollment so low they require significant subsidies to stay afloat.
On Nov. 17, the DPS Board of Education will vote to close and consolidate these five schools:
- Denver Discovery School will unify with schools in the Greater Park Hill – Central Park Enrollment zone.
- Fairview Elementary and Colfax Elementary will unify with K-5 grades at Cheltenham and ECE at Colfax.
- International Academy of Denver at Harrington will unify with Columbine Elementary and Swansea Elementary in a new enrollment zone with Columbine and Swansea.
- Math Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) will unify with Valverde Elementary at Valverde.
- Schmitt Elementary will unify with Godsman Elementary at Godsman.
“As a Denver resident, I understand the importance and value of neighborhood schools. I know many of our families have roots at schools that span generations,” Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero said in a letter to the DPS community. “But I, as the superintendent of DPS, and our Board of Education, have a fiduciary responsibility to all Denver residents. I take this responsibility seriously, and I want you to know I am committed to doing what is necessary to, as our Strategic Roadmap states, ensure Every Learner Thrives — today, tomorrow and for generations to come.”
Colorado funds its schools on a per-pupil system, meaning that school enrollment directly impacts school-level funding, Marrero said. Each of the 10 schools originally considered for closure had fewer than 215 students enrolled this fall, meaning the district had to spend extra money to give those schools resources available in schools with larger student populations.
Marrero said the district spends $5 million each year to subsidize those 10 schools — money that could fund more than 50 full-time employees. Of that $5 million, more than two-thirds of it goes to the five schools that will be voted on next week.
The fate of the other five schools originally considered for closure is still under consideration: Columbian, Palmer, Eagleton, Colfax and Whittier. The district said it will continue to engage with those school communities about what to do.
DPS has said the student population has declined by more than 6,000 students in the last five years, and the number is expected to drop by another 3,000 over the next four years. The district linked the lower numbers to a loss of more than $61 million in annual taxes that fund schools, with another $36 million dip expected in the years to come.
The district has said school-based staff “will have a guaranteed role” at their consolidated school.