DENVER (KDVR) — On Thursday night, the Jefferson County school board voted to close two of its smallest schools: Arvada K-8 and Coal Creek Canyon in Golden.

The district estimates more than 500 students and 97 staff members will be impacted by the closures, which are planned to happen in the 2024-25 school year.

Officials cited two decades of declining enrollment because of shifting demographics as the reason for the move.

Board President Stephanie Schooley issued the following statement on behalf of the Jeffco Board of Education:

“In the spring of 2022, this Board tasked Superintendent Dorland with creating a comprehensive plan for consolidating schools following two consecutive years of emergency closures of elementary schools in the spring, with enrollment too low to sustain a program for the following school year. Two decades of declining enrollment and shifting demographics had caught up to Jeffco in ways that the district and the Board could not ignore.

“Through an initiative called Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools, the Board voted in November 2022 to close 16 elementary schools. In the summer of 2023, the Board voted to close the district’s smallest middle school at the end of the 2023-24 school year. Tonight, Phase 2 of Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools concludes with the closure of Jeffco’s two smallest traditional K-8 schools—Coal Creek Canyon K-8 and Arvada K-8.

“I want to acknowledge how difficult this work has been for our communities. These are not easy decisions for the Board. Tonight’s decision was not unanimous. However, our policy governance structure respects dissenting opinions and calls for the Board to collectively support the majority vote. We do so with the assurance that the district will support each student, staff member, and family through this period of transition. Further, the district will be attentive to the communities involved, working throughout the articulation area to embrace their unique needs.

“Since the spring of 2021, action has been taken to close 21 Jeffco schools. Superintendent Dorland has met our directive to create and complete a comprehensive plan for consolidating schools. This Board is committed to tackling incredibly hard issues to prioritize thriving educational experiences for students across Jeffco.”

Jefferson County Board of Education President Stephanie Schooley

Since 2021, Jefferson County officials have moved to close 21 schools.