Five candidates set to run for a seat on the Aurora school board

Five people are running for three spots on the seven-member board for the Aurora school district.

The three open seats may not constitute a majority, but still have the power to change the board’s relationship with the district and the superintendent.

The five candidates that submitted by the deadline and have been certified:

  • Amber Drevon, a district parent and former Aurora school board president.
  • Stephanie Mason, a district grandmother who has been active in the Parent Teacher Student Organization at Columbia Middle School.
  • Nichelle Ortiz, a district parent and a health promotion facilitator for a program called The Culture of Wellness in Preschools
  • Vicki Reinhard, a recently retired special education teacher who most recently worked at Montview Elementary.
  • Barbara Yamrick, a former school board member who lost her re-election bid in 2017.

The Aurora Education Association has endorsed Mason and Reinhard. Ortiz, who said she is interested in representing the Latino community and fostering more parent engagement, said she had an interview with the union committee on Thursday, also seeking their endorsement.

In Aurora, all school board members are elected at-large, meaning every voter in the city will vote for three candidates during the Nov. 5 election. Those with the highest number of votes will win the seats and be sworn in before the end of 2019.

Aurora’s school board faces big decisions. The district has been working on a facilities plan called Blueprint that may end up recommending the closure or consolidation of some schools as enrollment continues to drop. Drevon, while off the school board for the last two years, participated in the community group that provided early recommendations for the Blueprint plan.

As part of the work, the board may also consider going to voters to ask for additional local taxes to build new schools in the eastern portion of the city where new development is expected.

And this spring, Aurora Central High School faces a hearing with the State Board of Education for failing to improve. The school is now on its ninth year on the state’s performance watchlist, and while the State Board is entitled to order whatever improvement measures it sees fit, the district will have a chance to present its own plan. The school board will have a say in what is proposed, and would also oversee any improvement plan the state orders.

The issues were noted by the union in their endorsement of Mason and Reinhard. The union stated in a written announcement, “We believe that the proper solutions to these struggles should centralize community voice and dedicate district resources in a responsible and transparent way. Reinhard and Mason are well positioned to be a voice for the community in these upcoming issues.”

One decision the new board will not have is whether to renew the superintendent’s contract, which expires in June. While superintendent Rico Munn’s current contract calls for a decision in February, the board is taking up the issue Tuesday.