Three of Aurora’s most at-risk schools will likely operate in an entirely new way next year after teachers there approved plans to dramatically redesign their schools, officials announced Friday.
Teachers at a fourth school this week rejected similar plans.
The schools that accepted their plans — Crawford and Paris elementary and Boston K8 — will present their plans to the inner-ring suburb’s school board Tuesday. Given that an overwhelming majority of teachers and staff signed off on the plans, the school board is apt to give its approval later in March.
The State Board of Education, which must also approved the plan, will likely follow course.
The votes, which were required by state law, are a mixed bag for Aurora Superintendent Rico Munn. A year ago, Munn proposed the schools chart their own course — free of some district and state rules — to boost student achievement that has traditionally fallen behind state averages.
Munn said he’s taking the rejection at Aurora West College Preparatory Academy in stride. The district will survey the staff at Aurora West, which serves grades six through 12, to understand why they rejected the plan.
The results of the survey will dictate the district’s next moves, Munn said.
“We don’t know if it was individual elements or a broader thematic question,” he said. “We don’t know at this point. We’ll look into and try to get a better understanding.”
Amy Nichols, president of the Aurora teachers union, said some teachers felt the plan lacked specifics.
“Too much seemed up in the air,” she said.
Teachers at a fifth school, Aurora Central High School, will vote on a similar plan in early March. Extra time was given to that school to flush out specifics of the plan, especially involving the budget, school leadership and employment rights.
The stakes are high for Aurora Central. It faces state sanctions if student achievement doesn’t increases. The state may also step in if teachers reject the locally-created redesign plan. Possible sanctions include the school being rebooted with a new staff under district management or handed over to a third party such as a charter school.
Lisa Escarcega, Aurora’s chief accountability and research officer, said a new draft of the Aurora Central plan will be released Monday. And there will likely be one more revision to the plan before teachers vote.