Denver Public Schools Considers Closing Schools Due To Critically Low Enrollment


Denver Post

Due to low enrollement levels, the Denver Public Schools district is considering the possibility of closing multiple schools.

Izzy Krauss, Assistant Opinions Editor

Members of the Denver Public Schools (DPS)  committee have recently considered shutting down and/or merging over ten K-8 schools due to a significant decrease in funding brought on by critically low enrollment

“DPS has announced the plan for unifying 10 schools to address the budget shortfall due to declining enrollment,” a DPS statement via Twitter said on Oct. 25. “By unifying these schools, all schools will be able to provide consistent staffing, robust academics, whole child support & enriching programs.”

Colorado school funding is supported by the number of students, but the student enrollment rate has decreased by over 3.9% since 2019.

DPS is not the only district struggling with declining enrollment; Jefferson County and Aurora Public schools have as well. 

“Jeffco Public Schools closed two schools in two years with little notice,” a Chalkbeat Colorado article by Erica Meltzer said. “Aurora Public Schools engaged in a five-year planning process that used complex regional criteria to identify schools for closure.” 

District officials will be bringing this idea to the school board on Nov. 3 and will be voting on whether or not to close the schools on Nov. 17. If this decision is passed it will not go into effect until the 2023-2024 school year. The decision would affect hundreds of students and staff within the district, but the implementation guidelines promise that students and staff will have a place at other schools.

“DPS will be hosting opportunities for students, staff, and families at consolidating schools to connect with each other as a combined/ consolidated school community,” the DPS Declining Enrollment Unification Plan said. 

According to Chalkbeat Colorado, 90% of students who would be affected by the school closures are students of color and/or from low-income households, and just three of the 10 schools that would be shut down have a white majority of students.

The committee is also taking into consideration travel time for students with disabilities or students whose second language is English.

“All of our students with disabilities, whether through an IEP or 504 plan, will continue to receive their services at the consolidated or their new school,” a DPS Declining Enrollment Unification Plan said. “Special Education teachers and Special Service Providers will be staffed accordingly to meet the needs of the students in the new consolidated school.”

DPS believes they do best when they are fully staffed and has enough resources for the students. 

“We believe that students thrive when they have a fully staffed school, consistency in the staff and leadership of the school,” the Declining Enrollment Unification Plan said. “In order to achieve our vision of ‘Every Learner Thrives’ in a declining enrollment environment, we have to concentrate our resources to be sure we can adequately support each and every learner.”