By Suzie Glassman: NewsBreak Denver
(Castle Rock, CO) Aurora public schools announced Wednesday that the district plans to close two elementary schools due to declining enrollment. Jefferson County schools recently said more than half of its elementary schools are under-enrolled.
DougCo schools face similar challenges. Declining enrollment means less money for districts, possible school closures, and potential layoffs.
Enrollment numbers at DougCo public schools, Colorado’s third-largest district, are down 5.3% since 2016. Denver public schools, the largest district, are down 2.46%, and Jefferson County schools, the second-largest, are down 9.1%.
DougCo school capacity
According to the DougCo district Long Range Planning Committee, the group responsible for presenting the board with the Master Capital Plan, “some areas of DCSD show growth of student populations, other areas show a leveling off of student numbers and even a decline in certain schools.”
“An over-enrolled school can have difficulties presenting adequate instructional space which puts pressure on the school environment. Schools with under-enrollment often face challenges in maintaining teachers and staff and presenting a full range of educational programming due to insufficient funds.”
The committee, DCSD staff, and the consulting firm Western Demographics will continue to analyze school capacity and make recommendations based on changes to the county’s population.
In the past, the committee recommended moving some sixth-grade classes from elementary schools to middle schools with larger capacities.
Declining numbers across the country
According to a recently published national survey, a New York Times article reports, “America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020.” Declining birth rates and less immigration are contributing factors. Still, many blame the pandemic for driving parents away from public school and to alternative options, like homeschool, private school, or e-learning.
According to the NYT, “State enrollment figures show no sign of a rebound to the previous national levels any time soon.”