Eiber Elementary School, in Lakewood, is among 19 sites where Jeffco Public Schools is offering grab and go breakfasts and lunches to students this fall during the pandemic. (Erica Breunlin, The Colorado Sun)

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More than half of Jeffco elementary schools are losing students, a change that’s leading to higher costs to educate those who remain and forcing schools to combine classrooms and make other compromises.

That’s according to school-level data published by Jeffco Public Schools as board members kick off a conversation about one of the hardest decisions they face: which schools to close or consolidate.

Jeffco has been dealing with declining enrollment for years, and like many other metro area districts is closing small schools. Citing an emergency caused by critically low enrollment, the district closed two schools in the past two years, giving little notice to parents. Now Jeffco is trying to think further ahead. 

The school board asked administrators to compile statistics about all elementary schools, to look at factors beyond school size. Board members plan to discuss the report Tuesday.

So far, district leaders have said they plan to use enrollment and building utilization, or how much of its space is actively used, as the main factors in deciding which schools to close. 

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