AURORA — Three of Aurora’s most at-risk schools are closer to dramatic overhauls after the school board Tuesday approved plans to set the schools free of some district and state rules.
The schools will have greater autonomy over their budgets, hiring and curriculum if the State Board of Education signs off on the plans later this spring — the final step in a year-long process.
The unanimous vote to provide some of its school greater flexibility by the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education is a major shift for the state’s fifth largest school district, which has trailed the state in student achievement scores on annual standardized tests and graduation rates.
The board approved the plans without discussion.
The work at Crawford and Paris elementary schools and Boston K8 are apart of Superintendent Rico Munn’s broad reform effort. It was spurred by a need to quickly improve learning conditions at Aurora Central High School, one of the state’s lowest performing schools.
Last spring, Munn suggested the district begin to provide some of its lowest performing schools more autonomy in an effort to boost student achievement. The district is on the state’s academic watchlist and at risk of losing its accreditation, so it must take action..
Crawford Elementary School principal Jenny Passchier said the freedom would allow her school to continue its upward trajectory.
“We’re really excited for our entire school community,” Passchier said after the board’s vote. “This is really going to help us sustain the work that we began over the three years and continue to move us forward.”
Changes that will take effect next fall at Crawford and the other two schools will include a longer school year and day. The schools will also work together to roll out new curriculum designed around a theme of global leadership designed by the Asia Society that aims to connect student learning with real-world skills and problems.
The Aurora school board has scheduled a special meeting for March 22 to vote on the Aurora Central plan. Teachers at that school last week approved its redesign plan.