This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.

More than half of Jeffco elementary schools are losing students, a change that results in higher costs to educate those left behind and forces schools to combine classrooms and make other compromises.

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

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

The school board asked administrators to compile statistics on all elementary schools, looking at factors beyond school size. Council members plan to discuss the report on Tuesday.

So far, district leaders have said they plan to use enrollment and building use, or the amount of space actively used, as primary factors in deciding which schools to close.

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