Growth and Decline

Growth and Decline in DCSD

Recently, school districts across the Denver/Metro area have been struggling with declining student enrollment, which has sparked a myriad of conversations on how school districts respond to declining enrollment.


Douglas County is experiencing similar declines in pockets of our community, specifically in our “North Planning area” which includes Highlands Ranch. However, our county is simultaneously experiencing massive growth in other pockets of the North Planning area such as Sterling Ranch and The Canyons (Castle Pines). Because Douglas County is so large (approximately 850 square miles), an elementary school cannot be moved from a declining area to a growing area – and it is not ideal to ask students, especially elementary school students, to endure long bus rides to schools in other areas.


map showing where schools are needed in growing areas of Douglas County 


To ensure DCSD is taking a proactive approach to address the challenges of growth and decline in the North Planning area, DCSD wants to proactively work with our community and, together, create a plan for the next 3-5 years to optimize educational opportunities for students throughout our district.


Earlier this year, DCSD began conversations about creating a proactive plan for its North Planning area elementary schools. Click here to watch a presentation about this topic to the Board of Education.



The Challenge of Enrollment Growth and Decline

  • In communities that do not have a school, DCSD is busing students to elementary schools outside of their neighborhood which is leading to crowding in those overflow schools. 

  • On the other hand, there are neighborhoods within Highlands Ranch where families moved in and settled 20 plus years ago and no longer have school-aged children. In those areas, some of DCSD’s elementary schools are projected to continue to become smaller. 

  • Overflowing schools and shrinking schools result in limiting opportunities for students. 

  • DCSD is reaching a point where not only does it need to build elementary schools in fast-growing, new developments, it also needs to “right-size” the schools it currently has in order to maximize opportunities for our students. 

Next Steps

  • The DCSD Board of Education, via consensus, gave DCSD staff the green light to begin developing a community engagement plan so that the school district can educate our community about the challenges associated with both growth and decline.

  • Together with our community, DCSD must create a proactive 3-5 year plan to address challenges of both growth and decline for the benefit of students. 

  • This long-term plan would include the creation of new elementary schools in areas where enrollment is exploding, and future consolidation of elementary schools in areas where enrollment is declining. 


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