An officer from Jeffco Public Schools listens on his radio as students leave Columbine High School on April 16, 2019 following a lockdown at Columbine High School and other Denver area schools. (David Zalubowski, AP)

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When Jeffco leaders saved four out of five schools from closure in 2017, they knew they were just kicking the problem down the road. They said so at the time.

They even paid an education consulting firm $170,000 to look at how other districts handle school closures and make recommendations, but the report was shelved and never acted on. It wasn’t presented to the school board or the community, and no policies changed.

Instead, administrators worked on other priorities, even as enrollment continued to drop.

This spring, Jeffco Public Schools closed another small school, Allendale Elementary, with little warning for parents and no board vote. At one meeting, parents and teachers who wanted to talk about their school were turned away.

Another 28 Jeffco schools have enrollment below 200 students, a level that threatens their financial viability, and district leaders again are launching a conversation about what to do.

It’s unclear if the previous work will be used or need to be updated.

Steve Bell, Jeffco’s chief operating officer, points out that the district has different board members, a new superintendent, and even new administrators who all need to discuss the issue.


Yesenia Robles is Chalkbeat Colorado’s Suburban Reporter looking at changes happening in Denver’s suburban school districts. Yesenia grew up in Denver, graduated from CU Boulder and is fluent in Spanish. She previously covered suburbs, education...