Hot Sheet

What’s next for Aurora schools in the wake of the election?

Author: Dan Njegomir - November 30, 2017 - Updated: November 30, 2017


It seems to be anyone’s guess at the moment as to how far Aurora Public Schools’ new teachers union-backed majority will go in calling back any of the reform agenda implemented by the previous board and Superintendent Rico Munn. And to be fair, it’s not clear if the reconfigured board will go there at all.

The new members elected Nov. 7 — Kyla Armstrong-Romero, Marques Ivey, Kevin Cox and Debbie Gerkin — were supported by the Aurora Education Association, and their victory was part of broader, union-sponsored backlash at reform that also swept some other Denver-area school districts.

For years, teachers unions have been pushing back hard at proliferating charter schools, innovation schools and accountability measures, like extensive testing. This was their year to regain some ground lost to reformers in past school board races.

Yet, at least in Aurora, it’s unclear what’s next. As Chalkbeat Colorado reported this week following the four new members’ swearing in:

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.

An early litmus test could be in January, when, as Chalkbeat reports:

… 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 teachers union is unlikely to embrace precisely such autonomy from the union’s own collective bargaining agreement and its wide-ranging rules defining teachers’ day-to-day duties. Education stakeholders across the policy spectrum will be watching.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.