JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Jefferson County Public Schools has proposed a plan to close multiple elementary schools in the district due to low enrollment levels.
According to Jeffco, the district has the capacity to serve 96,000 students in their traditional schools and currently has 69,000 students enrolled. Jeffco expects the enrollment to continue declining to 66,000 by next year.
A look at the numbers
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online and at-home learning became the new norm for students in Colorado. When schools reopened to in-person learning, many failed to return to the traditional in-school education.
Colorado saw a decline of 30,000 students who did not enroll in K-12 schools after COVID.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, Jeffco saw the largest decline in student population. The district lost over 5,000 students between 2019 and 2022.
Jeffco reported that 49 elementary schools, or 58% of all elementary schools, with a K-5 student population have below 250 students enrolled. This means that the buildings are only utilizing 60% of the space with a combined total of more than 10,600 empty seats.
With fewer students enrolled, the district is receiving less money from the state. Jeffco has announced phase one in their plan to eliminate excess elementary capacity.
The district stated they will have to reduce staffing and operation expenditures over two years to help address the budget deficit. Part of this address will be school consolidations.
During the summer season, the district is looking for community proposals for two schools in the district that are planning to consolidate into one school.
Jeffco has already had to make the tough decision to close two elementary schools, Allendale and Fitzmorris, during what they called an emergency spring semester closure.
Board of Education timeline
The district is completing reports on every elementary school to be presented to the board on June 30.
By Aug. 31, the superintendent will recommend which schools will close or consolidate.
The board will vote on the final school closures and consolidations in November. The board has not released the numbers on how many schools they plan to close or where the schools are located in phase one.