DENVER — Schools in Denver are feeling the effects of the affordable housing crisis. Enrollment numbers are dropping as families move out of neighborhoods that were once considered accessible.
Richard Castro Elementary is among the dozen schools in southwest Denver seeing a decline in enrollment. The area is home to several low-income families and has been for years, but it has also seen a dramatic increase in house prices.
Low birth rates have also contributed to the drop. Birth rates have declined since the recession eight years ago, and have yet to come back.
Brian Eschbacher, the executive director of planning and enrollment for Denver Public Schools, says the decline is recent phenomena.
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve been the fastest growing urban district in the country. We’ve added over 20,000 students and sometimes adding 3,000 students in a year. In the last year, suddenly that growth has stopped, and we are projected to lose students this year for the first time since 2004,” said Eschbacher.
The shrinking student base is forcing the district to adapt, which often means cutting down on staff or consolidating.
To combat the decline, school officials are offering school incentives and spreading the word on Colorado being a “choice state.” Even if a family doesn’t live in Denver, they can still attend a Denver Public School, said Eschbacher.