The board voted 4-3 on a recommended plan that would close Sable and Paris elementary schools.
AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora Public Schools (APS) Board of Education met Tuesday night and voted 4-3 to “stay the course” on a plan that would close Sable Elementary School and Paris Elementary School at the end of the next school year in 2023.
Tuesday night’s meeting was forced into a five-minute recess after a loud outburst from a parent and when the meeting resumed, the board had moved on to other items on the agenda.
The proposal is part of Blueprint APS, the district’s long-range education and facilities plan, which has been in the works since 2018. The board said Blueprint APS “focuses on addressing the sharp enrollment declines that Aurora Public Schools has experienced over the past several years while also strengthening educational programs for the future.”
Part of that plan recommended closing Paris and Sable elementary schools in June 2023 and repurposing those buildings “for an alternate use that would benefit the APS community.”
That part of the plan also proposed a new innovation center on the North Middle School campus that would include space for P-TECH and for One Health programming.
At their March meeting, rather than approving that plan, the board directed Superintendent Rico Munn to present a range of options for them to consider. Those options will be presented to the board at their meeting Tuesday.
The three options the board considered were:
- Stay the Course — Continue to move forward with decisions about Region 1 either by accepting the recommendation presented by the Superintendent in March 2022 or providing the Superintendent with different criteria to apply to Region 1 in recommending schools for closure or repurposing. This option might also include a mechanism for “updating” the process.
- Pause — Pause for 6 months (until January 2023) and further engage stakeholders through board-led activities which could result in different or similar recommendations depending on whether there are significantly revised criteria for school closures/repurposing.
- Abandon — Abandon Blueprint APS framework (including specializations, additional magnets) and develop a new framework (i.e. small school subsidy model in Regions 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and Master Plan for Regions 2 & 5).
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Before the meeting began Tuesday, former Paris Elementary School student Angel Aldaba said the school was important to the community.
“It means a lot since it helped me go easily onto different subjects like math and science,” Aldaba said. “I feel nervous because I don’t know if it’s going to close or not because I want kids to have the same opportunity I did.”
During public comment, some kids spoke about how these schools specifically helped them learn English, in some cases, in a culturally responsive way.
Rocio Reza, who is in support of keeping the schools open, said transportation could be an issue if the schools close.
“We need the school. The community needs the school. Our kids walk to school almost every day, and it would be really far and I’m sure that you would not provide transportation that is less than 2 miles, let’s be honest,” Reza said to the board.
“We realize that any discussion to close a school is difficult and we are grateful that our students, families and staff feel so closely connected to their schools,” said APS in a statement. “This discussion is necessary though so we can continue to provide effective services for our students rather than spending tax dollars to operate school buildings that are significantly under-enrolled.”
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