Four new members of the Aurora school board took their seats Tuesday, beginning a new and uncertain period for a school district in the midst of myriad efforts to boost student achievement.
In its first action, the new board unanimously and with no discussion elevated the newcomers to leadership positions: Marques Ivey will serve as board president, Kyla Armstrong-Romero as vice president, Debbie Gerkin as secretary and Kevin Cox as treasurer.
The four new members, who comprise a majority of the seven-member board, campaigned as a slate endorsed by the Aurora teachers union.
Cox, a truck driver, and Gerkin, a retired Aurora principal, received the most votes, followed by Armstrong-Romero and Ivey. They beat two candidates supported by education reform advocates, an incumbent and two other candidates, including a woman who had previously served on the board.
While the new board members have said they disagree with some of the district’s reforms — which include recruiting high-performing charter schools to the district — they also said they are not in a rush to make immediate changes.
Their first board meeting will be Dec. 5.
In January, the new school board may be asked to vote on changes to Paris Elementary, a school in the district’s innovation zone. Schools in the zone get autonomy from some district, union and state rules. The school is struggling to show academic improvement. If it doesn’t improve next year, it could land on the state’s list of schools facing state sanctions. Aurora officials are trying to make changes to the school before that happens.
The new school board will also oversee the start of a process to draft a new strategic plan for the district and its facilities as enrollment changes create both underutilized buildings and leave some still overcrowded.