School consolidation and closure are coming to Denver. The school board Thursday passed a resolution that directs Denver Public Schools staff to help parents, educators, and neighbors come up with options for reducing the number of small schools in the district.
A community engagement process is set to start this fall, with changes expected in the fall of 2023, according to a district timeline. The resolution doesn’t specify which schools will be affected. Instead, it calls for “a districtwide process to review under-enrolled schools.”
“What this resolution really does is put on the table that this is something that we need our best thinking on,” said board Vice President Jennifer Bacon, calling it a district priority.
Enrollment is declining in Denver, and elementary schools have been hardest hit. In the past six years, the district has lost about 5,000 elementary-aged children, or 16 schools’ worth of kids. The trend is being driven by declining birth rates and rising housing prices that push families out of the city, though the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the losses.
Denver Public Schools had 20 district-run elementary schools with fewer than 300 students this past year, according to state enrollment data. Denver schools are funded per pupil, and 300 students is the minimum a school needs for the district to consider it financially viable.
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