How to render just a couple scenes/layers

I’m just learning how to do this, so please bear with me.
I have a few variations of a model that I need to render, and 2 different camera views.

I started things by creating a render that denoises the main model, noticed denoise doesn’t work on shadow catchers, so made another render layer for the ground shadow so it can be denoised another way. So far so good.
But then I created a bunch of linked scenes, which now have the render layer as well, to do the model variations. I realized I don’t need to render the shadow over and over…but it still renders and just doesn’t save.

I cleared the compositor in all the copies, so only the main scene has any nodes and outputs. Last night I tried rendering, and it was going, but crashed. But I was trying to plug in 12 8K renders into one multilayer OpenEXR. So I imagine I just had an issue with memory.

So today I disabled that group in the compositor and just rendered a smaller group. Just two render layers from two different scenes plugging into one multilayer exr. That worked fine…only that the extra render layer still processes.

Is there a way to get Only what is in the compositor to render? I don’t understand why it would render a render layer that isn’t being called on. Do i really have to go to each scene with unused render layers and disable them one by one? I did find that you can disable them in the properties tab of that render layer.
In this case, I’ll probably just delete those render layers altogether, because I don’t have use for them in this project. But I’m trying to learn how to handle larger files like this and figure out what people are actually doing to handle rendering a bunch of different images.
I’m not finding much information on creating a queue of any sort, which surprises me a bit. It doesn’t seem like you can really control which render goes first without rendering from command line. I’m a visual person that likes to see my information with a GUI…that’s just not ever going to be something I will choose without searching out All my other options. I could do it that way, but I would hate it and likely make terrible time wasting mistakes (more) often.