DPS considers closures and consolidation due to declining registrations | Colorado Politics

During an executive session Thursday night, Denver Public Schools heard recommendations for how the district should identify schools for consolidation.

No schools were identified by name, however, the district considered closures and consolidation due to declining enrollment that began district-wide in 2019, according to the presentation.

There has been a steady decline in the number of elementary school students in the district since 2015 and that trend is expected to continue, officials said.

Superintendent Alex Marrero has previously said a loss of 6,000 students equals the loss of $78 million in funding. This year’s enrollment decreased by 3,613 students compared to 2019, according to the presentation.

The consolidation committee proposed that the district implement three different criteria when considering a potential candidate for consolidation. Two of the criteria focused on district-operated elementary and middle schools, while the third focused only on charter schools.

The first criterion focuses on schools with 215 or fewer students, resulting in an inequitable and disproportionate distribution of funding, according to the presentation.

Committee members said they focused on specific enrollment numbers rather than budget information because it made the process fairer.

The second criterion is more forward-looking and asks the district to look at schools with fewer than 275 students and whose enrollment is expected to decline 8-10 percent over the next two years.

The third criterion focuses on charter schools and proposes that the district identify all elementary and middle school charter schools that are not financially solvent and identify them as high risk.

Charter schools are required to renew this process would be highlighted during this period, according to the presentation.

Committee members have also established fairness safeguards. Most of the concerns raised during the development of the criteria related to fairness.

Railings would help some small schools such as those that house early childhood education, as not all buildings are designed to accommodate an ECE classroom. They would also ensure that students whose school consolidates receive the same number of programs they currently receive.

Although officials have not provided a timeline for the consolidations Thursday night, in the past officials have said the timing of consolidations and closures will not impact schools until after the 2024 school year- 2025.

However, some schools – which have not been named – may need an accelerated schedule and may close or consolidate after the 2023-2024 school year.

Some of the considerations proposed by committee members were to adjust school models, which could merge elementary and middle schools into a K to 8, or combine middle school and high school.

Marrero said the next process of the Consolidation and Closure Process will present these recommendations to district stakeholders and the community for feedback, which will be presented to council at a later date.

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