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Housing market is impacting enrollment at Denver Public Schools

DPS predicts over the next five years enrollment will decrease by roughly 3,000 students.

DENVER — Denver Public Schools says it believes the city's expensive housing market is one of the reasons enrollment continues to decline. DPS is planning for thousands of fewer students over the next few years which will lead to a decrease in funding from the state. 

"Our enrollment has been declining at the elementary school level since 2014," said Liz Mendez, Executive Director of Enrollment and Campus Planning at DPS. 

Fewer students are enrolling at DPS even as the city's population is growing. Mendez said several factors are causing enrollment to decline in the school district. 

One reason is the increased cost of housing in the city. DPS sees a smaller yield of students coming from higher priced housing than lower priced housing. 

"When we look at the yield for higher priced housing, compared to lower priced housing, the data tells us we have fewer students coming from our higher priced houses," said Mendez. "As more and more of our homes reach that higher price we will have fewer and fewer students coming out of them."

Houses are getting more expensive in the city. The median price of a single-family home in Denver was over $700,000 in April, a 15 percent jump in a year according to the Denver Metro Association of Realtors. 

"I think we are sort of landlocked, right?" said Mendez. "There's not really anywhere else to build."

Even when the city does build, Mendez said most areas aren't offering the types of homes that bring in more kids. More attached unit housing in Denver is also decreasing enrollment, according to Mendez. 

"Row houses, apartments, condos that are built, they tend to have a very low student yield," she said. 

Mendez said the district used to see more kids in homes in Northwest Denver but now crews are replacing single-family houses with blocks of attached units or townhomes. 

"Over the last 10 years, the only significant housing development in single family homes has been Central Park and also the far northeast by the airport," she said. "There’s still some development left in both of those neighborhoods, although very small."

The district said its expecting enrollment to decrease by around 3,000 kids in the next few years. Mendez didn't say how much money the district could lose in funding, but she said the impact could be significant.

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