On January 6, 2021, the Littleton Public Schools Board of Education heard a summary of the current state of LPS early childhood and elementary programs, a projection for the future, and a plan moving forward.
LPS has been carefully monitoring elementary enrollment for several years. The LPS Long Range Planning Committee also conducted an in-depth review of enrollment patterns across the district as part of its work over the last three years regarding the need to replace aging facilities over time and the resulting boundary changes. The data tells us that enrollment, particularly at the elementary level, continues to decline within the district.
Over the past 15 years or so, LPS enrollment has declined by about 3,000 students, usually at the rate of 75 to 100 students per year. LPS has always had enrollment challenges for a number of reasons.
Then, the pandemic hit, and more families than usual across the district, the state and the nation moved or chose different education options. This year, LPS is down an additional 700 students from its pre-pandemic projections.
Given these variables, the Board discussed a multi-year plan recommended by administration to optimize the use of district resources and facilities to meet student learning needs while operating the district effectively and efficiently. Key points of the recommendations include:
The plan moves LPS from having 13 elementary schools – several of which will be 1- or 2-round schools next fall – to having 10 elementary schools by the fall of 2023. Most if not all 10 schools would be more robust and efficient 3- or 4-round elementary schools. This size of elementary school is ideal under the current school funding mechanism because larger schools allow for funding for robust staffing, including small group instruction, intervention, and other support services; office staff including a principal and an assistant principal or dean; and various specialists – all of which provide students with the people and programs to best support them.
“LPS has made sacrifices over the past 15 years to keep some of our smallest elementary schools open. But, some of them are just too small now and can no longer offer the kinds of opportunities all LPS students should have,” said LPS Superintendent Brian Ewert. “Keeping small schools open has substantial long-term consequences financially for the entire district. Principals say that larger 3- and 4-round schools are best for kids. The good news is our new schools, being built thanks to the 2018 bond, are strategically placed in our community where school consolidations need to happen.”
The Charge of the Long Range Planning Committee
The Board has asked the Long Range Planning Committee to convene for a brief time this spring. The Committee's charge is to vet and validate administration’s recommendations as follows:
The Committee will engage with employees and community members throughout the spring to gather feedback to help inform the process.
Administration asks the Board to determine the location for the recommended third elementary school by the end of March 2021.