JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The campus at Powderhorn Elementary School will be more crowded next year as students from Colorow Elementary move there next fall.
Colorow is one of 16 schools slated to close after the Jefferson County School Board vote Thursday night. Colorow, Emory, Peck, Thomson, Campbell, Peiffer, Green Mountain, Molholm, Glennon Heights, Parr, Sheridan Green, Witt, Vivian, Wilmore Davis, and Kullerstrand elementary schools will all close at the end of this school year. Bergen Meadow Primary will close in 2024.
Superintendent Tracy Dorland said all these schools have either low enrollment or low building usage compared to capacity. Many of them have both.
But, parents at the Thursday board meeting expressed frustration because they feel the closures unfairly impact communities of color and students with disabilities.
"You failed us when you lashed out at members of our community who dared to give you data about how school closures like this affect the most disadvantaged kids in our community," Mollie Crampton, a parent of kids at Vivian Elementary, said to the school board.
RELATED: 16 Jeffco schools to close
With the vote passed, the next phase is preparation.
"They'll have a great experience at their new school," said Tom Szczesny, the principal at Powderhorn Elementary.
Szczesny has already been meeting with families from Colorow Elementary.
"I’m looking forward in the months ahead to plan for a year ahead so that we have a really successful transition where all students feel seen, valued, heard, and connected each day when they come to the school," Szczesny said.
Szczesny is preparing to add about 200 more kids who are being displaced from Colorow.
"It's a very difficult moment and we know you might have some questions and we know that we're going to have to build trust with you," Szczesny said.
Szczesny said in the long run he believes that bigger schools will be more efficient schools.
"What we're striving to accomplish with this is making sure that all students in JeffCo have the same access to the same resources, the same opportunities," Szczesny said.
He anticipates Powderhorn will add staff to handle the increase in students.
"We average about 21-to-22 kids per class," Szczesny said.
But, will the teachers come from Colorow with the students?
"We are losing some educators and really, really great educators due to this," said Brooke Williams, the Jefferson County Education Association president.
After Thursday's night's vote, Williams said the closure of 16 schools means an impact on 422 jobs.
"It's really important to me that all of our educators feel valued and taken care of," Williams said.
She said the teachers union is working with the district to make sure people are placed somewhere in the district with hopes some can follow their kids to new schools.
"We've expressed that as a desire," Williams said.
But, under state law, Williams said if teachers want to move with their kids, they have to essentially re-apply and re-interview for their same jobs.
"We're also going to be bargaining some early retirement incentives for teachers that are interested in retiring this year to try to save as many jobs as we possibly can," Williams said.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Latest from 9NEWS