These Arvada principals say staffing will still be an issue after the JeffCo school closures, but students may benefit

Little Elementary School principal Julie Waage (L) and Parr Elementary School principal Kristin Enney (R) after the JeffCo School Board meeting Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. Parr Elementary was one of sixteen schools in the district that will close at the end of the school year. Those students will attend Little Elementary beginning next school year.

Two Arvada elementary school principals are looking forward to merging next fall after board members with JeffCo Public Schools agreed to close 16 schools in the district next year.

Kristin Enney is in her first and last year as principal of Parr Elementary School. It’s one school on Jefferson County schools’ list of closures. The plan is for Parr Elementary to consolidate with Waage’s Little Elementary School.

Enney knows it was a hard decision. But she is hopeful for her students and their parents.  

“It's hard for my community. It's hard for me personally but we are a very tiny school and it's hard to provide the services that I know my students need when we're too small to afford the things that I see other schools have,” Enney said. “I know that with our consolidation we'll be able to provide a more robust experience for our students.”

Parr Elementary has 150 students enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade. Another 32 students are in preschool. Staffing has been the biggest issue. The arts, music and physical education teachers share one building and rotate every week. A digital teacher and librarian teaches two days a week. A mental health provider isn’t available at the school every day.

Kindergarten and first-grade students are combined in one classroom. Enney says she started the year with 30 kindergartners, which wasn’t enough to hire a second teacher. 

“I'm excited and hopeful that now that we can become a bigger community in one building so that our kids have those rich opportunities to meet each other and to experience different cultures across all demographics,” Enney said.

Little Elementary is less than a mile away from Parr Elementary. Little Elementary has 247 students enrolled. Little’s Principal Julie Waage says they are constantly making cuts similar to Parr and elsewhere in the district. But she’s looking forward to welcoming Parr’s students next year.

“The Parr community has been fantastic about coming together and joining with the parent groups and trying to make the best of what we have. But we really can't sustain without adding enrollment,” said Waage, who is in her fifth year as principal. “This is really an incredible opportunity for our school to do more and to stop having to make those cuts by taking away those extra opportunities for our kids that they really deserve to have.”

Waage says the next step is to staff up for more students.

“That's the challenge right now,” Waage said. “We are so short on staff for the number of kids we have because it's what we can afford.”

The district’s superintendent said it will work with the Jefferson County Education Association and the Jeffco Parent-Teacher Association to help staff whose schools are closed find jobs.