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Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools

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Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools is Jeffco Public Schools’ response to the Board of Education’s (BoE) request for a comprehensive plan to ensure thriving schools and extraordinary student experiences across our district.

The 2020 Census shows a population increase in Jefferson County of an additional 55,854 residents from 2000 to 2020. However, during this time, the population of school-aged children (5-19) decreased by 29,918. In addition, the population of children five and under has decreased. In 2020 the lowest number of births in 15 years was recorded. There are significantly fewer school-aged children in Jeffco today than 20 years ago.

Why Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools?

Jeffco has capacity to serve 96,000 students in its traditional district-managed schools and we currently only serve 69,000 students. Thirty-nine percent of the District’s excess capacity is at the elementary school level. The impact of Jeffco’s excess capacity is felt in nearly every corner of our District as we stretch our resources to sustain the number of schools we have, with declining enrollment. It is hard on all school communities when we do not efficiently utilize our resources and take advantage of economies of scale. Most importantly, it creates inequities in the educational opportunities that schools are able to provide to students due to budget limitations.In the past two years, the District has been required to make reactive decisions to close two small schools in the spring, after the choice enrollment period, due to unsustainable enrollment projections for the upcoming school year.

Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools includes a two-phase approach with Phase I focusing on thriving elementary schools. Phase I will include the development of a November 2022 consolidation plan that:

  • Avoids future emergency spring closure decisions for schools.
  • Moves the district toward a future where all elementary schools are thriving with foundational programming that is more equitable across our different elementary schools.
  • Lays the groundwork for Phase II Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools with a focus on bringing regional cohesion, PK-12, with a vision toward the future.
  • Authentically engages families, students, staff, and community in the conversation and process.
  • Provides information and time to respect families who will make decisions in the choice process.

Regional Opportunities for Thriving Schools encourages all of us to consider the benefits of stewarding our resources in ways that provide exceptional student experiences in support of collaborative and data driven team cultures. It calls for a comprehensive, proactive plan.

Proposed Changes to School Closure Policy

As part of this work, and following the April regional opportunities resolution, the Board is considering updates to policy FCB and regulation FCB-R, which were last revised 20 years ago, in 2002. The two related policies on closing schools being considered for revision can be viewed in their current state online; FCB here and FCB-R here. The proposed policies can also be viewed online; proposed FCB here and proposed FCB-R here. The Board welcomes public comment at their June 2 meeting prior to their vote.

Jeffco Public Schools Elementary School Report

Recognizing that decisions must be made taking into account the district’s large ecosystem of schools, the Board of Education has requested a report on all Jeffco elementary schools with data and information related to what is listed in the new draft FCB-R policy: educational program, operating costs, per pupil costs, staffing structures, student dislocation (geographic-transportation), building capacity, projected enrollment, desirability of site (safety-size-drainage), condition of physical plant, life expectancy of building, and community use of facility. This report will be delivered to the Board of Education and made publicly available on June 30. The Board may convene in July to review the report at a date to be determined.

No decisions about potential school closures are being made at this time. The board of education is starting the work by revising the related policy and processes, and looking at data across all elementary schools. There will be robust communication as the work moves forward. More information will be provided to the community and there will be opportunities for engagement in the coming months. In addition, the latest information will be available on our website and updated regularly.

This is a challenging and critical dialogue in which we invite and encourage our community to participate. We recognize that people love their local schools and that conversations about possible closures and consolidations are emotional and can be difficult. Moving Jeffco from good, to great, to extraordinary requires both building on our many bright spots and confronting our challenges through the lens of opportunity.

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