Boulder Valley School District

Declining Enrollment

Background

Aligning with a trend for school districts across the nation, the Boulder Valley School District has been in declining enrollment since 2018 and anticipates a gradual decline in enrollment in future years. This drop follows a declining overall birth rate and a growing tendency for families to delay having children. In BVSD, the high cost of housing coupled with limited housing stock inhibits the ability of families with young children to live in our district. COVID-related enrollment loss accelerated the anticipated decline dramatically. 

Projections starting in 2022-23, indicate that the district is expected to decline by approximately 2,100 students over the next 5 years at an annual rate of decline of between 1.5% and 2%.

Impacts of Declining Enrollment

Because school districts are funded on a per pupil basis, declining numbers of students can lead to budget reductions, as well as inefficient facility operations and most importantly, a less comprehensive educational experience for students at schools with smaller enrollments.

The enrollment decline is being seen more at the  elementary level. In addition, because elementary schools are smaller than secondary schools, the impacts are felt more acutely. 

Fewer students in a school means reduced staffing and therefore a reduction in opportunities and resources. BVSD staff explain what this can look like in this update to the Board in March 2023: 

Impacts of declining enrollment on elementary students' educational experience

Board Response

In the spring of 2022, the Board created the Long Range Advisory Committee (LRAC) to study the district’s enrollment outlook and develop recommendations to ensure sound long-term facility decisions consistent with the needs of the school district and in support of the district’s strategic initiatives. Over the course of the 2022-23 school year, the committee of parents, community members, and staff met numerous times and developed recommendations which it presented to the Board in June 2023. These recommendations are part of BVSD’s proactive efforts to improve enrollment trends to avoid future cuts to schools/programs across the district.

Those recommendations included an annual report from staff regarding school utilization which also includes the number of classes per grade level and five-year enrollment projections by school. The group also recommended actions for the Board to take if enrollment at specific schools drops below identified thresholds. In addition, the LRAC recommended the Board conduct community surveys and study policies related to enrollment, specifically, the School Attendance Area policy (JC), the Open Enrollment Policy (JECC & JECC-R), and the Focus School Policy (IFF). 

Since last fall, the Board has held a number of work sessions to study the issue. Specific meetings are linked to the right. This will continue to be a topic of discussion for the Board. 

Board Meetings

Jun. 13, 2023
LRAC Recommendation 
(presentation/video)
Oct. 10, 2023
Parent Knowledge and Interest Survey Data 
(presentation/video)
Oct. 17, 2023
School Attendance Area Policy JC (presentation/video)
Oct. 24, 2023
Open Enrollment Policies JECC & JECC-R 
(presentation/video)
Nov. 14, 2023
Schools of Choice Policy IFF 
(presentation/video)
Dec. 12, 2023
Enrollment Update and Trends  (agenda/presentation/video)
Jan. 16, 2024
Enrollment Policy Work Session (executive summary/video)

Feb. 13, 2024
Enrollment Policies Study Items

(link to Board meeting)

Feb. 27, 2024
LRAC Update & Annual Trend Report
Enrollment Policies Action Items
(link to Board meeting)

Upcoming Events

Feb. 27, 2024 
Erollment Advisory Report and LRAC Update to the Board