Jeffco Public Schools is the latest in a series of metro-area school districts to see declining enrollment numbers. In a meeting scheduled for August 25th, Superintendent Tracy Dorland will recommend specific schools for closure.
Data presented to the Board of Education in a July 26th study session showed an increase in overall population in Jefferson County, but a decline in school-aged children between 2000 and 2020. Data also showed a decrease in the population under 5 years old, and in 2020, the lowest number of births recorded in 15 years.
Population shift, the COVID pandemic, and the growth of charter schools has also contributed to declines in enrollment in recent years.
Jeffco has the capacity to serve 96,000 students in traditional schools, but currently serves just 69,000 students. In the last two years, the district has closed two schools before the end of the year - Allendale Elementary in the 2020/2021 school year and Fitzmorris Elementary in the 2021/2022 school year - due to unsustainably low enrollment.
Membership in the areas feeding into Alameda, Jefferson, and Arvada High Schools has declined by more than 6.5% since 2020. Membership in the areas feeding into the Lakewood, Pomona, and Standley Lake High Schools has declined by more than 4.5% in the same timeframe. Data shows nearly 60% of all elementary schools across the district have student enrollments under 250 and/or less than 60% of building utilization.
Combined, elementary schools in Jefferson County have 10,600 empty seats.
The district's plan of action to address the declining enrollment, labeled "Jeffco Thrives 2025," calls for, among other items, fewer but more robustly-resourced schools, healthier and more equitable start times district-wide, and regional opportunities for thriving schools.
As part of that plan, Superintendent Tracy Dorland will present her recommendations for specific schools designated for closure at a meeting scheduled for August 25th, though a specific number was not given. At that time, other related actions may be recommended. Community conversations will be scheduled for September and October to give those communities a chance to speak with district administration. Public consolidation hearings are set for the week of October 24th, with a board vote on closure tentatively set for November 10th, 2022.
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