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JEFFERSON COUNTY, COLO. (KDVR) — Jeffco Public Schools has seats for 96,000 students but data shows it currently serves 69,000 in traditional schools. The district said a plan for success means consolidating underused schools.

New data shows that 49 elementary schools in Jefferson County have student populations at or under 250 kids and/or a building utilization of 60% or less. Combined, the elementary schools have 10,600-plus empty seats.

“We have one teacher who is teaching two grade levels because there aren’t even enough students for one grade level. That is both a challenge first for instruction as well as the teacher not having a colleague to plan with, to regularly talk with about how students are doing,” Chief of Strategy and Communications for Jeffco Public Schools Lisa Relou said.

Tuesday night, the Jeffco school board will review the new data, looking into each elementary school before recommendations can come for a consolidation plan ahead.

“This is a very large puzzle in terms of looking at our whole district, all the elementary schools that we have, the number of students that they serve, how much of their building that they’re using,” Relou said. 

After Tuesday’s school board meeting, the district is planning to present a superintendent recommendation to the board on Aug. 25. That’s when the elementary schools to change or consolidate will be publicly named.

Next is a period for community conversations in September and October before public hearings on consolidations the week of Oct. 24.

Stott Elementary School parent Keely Carter hopes her and other parents’ concerns can be seriously considered ahead of any decisions. 

“I don’t want my kids in a classroom of 30 kids where they may get left behind or, the teacher may feel like, well, they’re okay, they don’t need my attention right now because we have to focus on other children who might need more support,” Carter said. “It’s heartbreaking because I know Jeffco has a lot of potential and there’s so many factors.”

“We are keeping our students, our families, our staff at the heart of every decision that we’re making,” Relou said. “This is the hardest work that a school district, unfortunately, has to do.”

The decisions for what schools to consolidate or change come this school year, then closures the next.

Elementary school data being considered is listed on the website.