Denver puts brakes on plan to close or consolidate small schools

Denver Superintendent Alex Marrero is pressing pause on addressing one of the district’s most significant challenges: whether to close or consolidate schools with so few students that they struggle to pay for a full teaching staff and robust programming.

Denver Public Schools was about to launch a monthslong community brainstorming process involving 19 schools. But after meeting with parents and community groups, Marrero said the district’s attention needs to be on pandemic recovery right now.

“My attention and the attention of the leadership of our district need to be on listening, learning from, and being responsive to our community, and it needs to be on recovery from the pandemic,” Marrero wrote in a letter to families at the affected schools.

Conversations about closing some under-enrolled schools “would be a major obstacle” in the way of accomplishing that pandemic recovery, Marrero said.

Enrollment in Denver Public Schools is declining, and elementary schools in the southwest, northwest, and central parts of the city have been hard hit. Denver schools are funded per student, and fewer students means less funding to pay for teachers and programming.

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