JEFFERSON COUNTY, COLO. (KDVR) – Jeffco Public Schools has seats for 96,000 students, but data shows it currently serves 69,000 in traditional schools. The district said a plan for success means strengthening underutilized schools.
New data shows that 49 elementary schools in Jefferson County have a student population of 250 children or less and/or a building utilization of 60% or less. Combined, elementary schools have more than 10,600 empty seats.
“We have a teacher who teaches two grade levels because there are not even enough students for one grade level. It’s both a challenge first for the teaching as well as for the teacher who doesn’t have a colleague to plan with, to talk to regularly about how the students are doing,” said Lisa Relou, Chief Strategy and Communications Officer for Jeffco Public Schools.
On Tuesday evening, the Jeffco School Board will review the new data, examining each elementary school before recommendations can be issued for an upcoming consolidation plan.
“It’s a really big headache in terms of our whole district, all the elementary schools we have, how many students they serve, how much of their building they use,” Relou said.
After Tuesday’s school board meeting, the district plans to present a superintendent’s recommendation to the board on Aug. 25. This is when the elementary schools to be modified or consolidated will be publicly named.
This is followed by a period of community conversations in September and October before public hearings on consolidations the week of October 24.
Keely Carter, a parent at Stott Elementary School, hopes her concerns and those of other parents can be seriously considered before any decisions are made.
“I don’t want my kids to be in a class of 30 kids where they might get left behind or, the teacher might feel like, well, they’re fine, they don’t need my attention right now. moment because we need to focus on other kids who might need more support,” Carter said. “It’s heartbreaking because I know Jeffco has a lot of potential and there are so many factors.”
“We keep our students, our families, our staff at the heart of every decision we make,” Relou said. “It’s the hardest job a school district, unfortunately, has to do.”
Decisions about which schools to consolidate or change are made this school year, then closures the next.
The elementary school data taken into account is listed on the website.