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Reason Foundation

Denver School Closures Improve Outcomes for Students

Lisa Snell
September 24, 2009, 4:00pm

I profiled the Denver public schools in the Weighted Student Formula Yearbook. The Denver public schools have used school closure as an accountability mechanism in their sudent-based budgeting program. In 2007, the school board approved the closing of eight schools that were under-enrolled and low-performing.

The board projected that the realignment of students from these schools to higher performing schools would achieve projected yearly operating savings of $3.5 million. Those resources were used to improve the education of students that were affected by the school closures, deliver additional resources to under-performing schools and create funding opportunities for new schools and new programs.

In addition to the standard per-pupil revenue that followed students to their new schools, the district reinvested $2 million or 60 percent of the savings from school closures, to follow the students into their schools of reassignment.

A new district report finds that these students have improved their academic scores since moving to their new schools. According to a district analyses reported in the Denver Post:

Students from schools in Denver that were closed two years ago in a reform effort are performing better academically in their new schools, according to a district analysis.

In 2007, Denver Public Schools shut down eight elementary schools and announced the revamping of programs at five schools in a sweeping reform meant to reduce facility costs and improve student achievement.

The analysis of individual student scores from the 2008-09 Colorado Student Assessment Program shows that, at least initially, the effort is working.

The 2,000 affected students made more academic growth in their new schools in reading, writing and math than they did in the schools they left behind, according to DPS.


Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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