Campaign kicks off support for Aurora Public Schools $300M bond measure

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AURORA | The hunt for more dollars for Aurora Public Schools has officially commenced.

Organizers behind the “Yes on 3C” campaign, which is advocating for the passage of a new $300 million bond for APS, kicked off the election season with a small press conference near Rangeview High School Wednesday, Aug. 17.

Officially deemed Aurora Citizens for Excellent Schools, or ACES, the group organizing the advocacy effort touted the district’s forthcoming ballot question and underscored the challenges facing Aurora’s many aging and crowded schools.

“What an incredible job our APS team has done putting together a frugal bond package that focuses on innovation, growth and the needs, not the wants, of the district,” William Stuart, chairman of ACES, said in a statement.

The APS school board unanimously approved the bond question earlier this month.

If approved by voters this November, the bond question would increase residential property taxes by $1.93 per month for every $100,000 of home value, according to district documents. An approved bond would increase the mill levy for residences in APS boundaries from 20 to 23 mills in 2017.

Funds generated by a bond would go toward financing the construction of a new school that would serve grades six to 12 in northwest Aurora, a new P-8 school in east Aurora and the replacement of both Mrachek Middle School and Lyn Knoll Elementary School, among several other projects.

The district recently launched a website that identifies the individual projects the bond money would fund at every school in APS. The construction of the new P-8 school, which would serve about 1,000 students, and the replacement of Mrachek would be the most expensive projects to be completed using bond funds. Each of those projects would cost about $34 million, according to district documents. Other lofty enhancements include $20 million worth of additions at Vista PEAK, $16 million for a total remodel of East Middle School and $14 for a full replacement of Lyn Knoll Elementary School.

About $10 million would be allocated for new technology improvements at APS schools over the course of five years, and about $2 million would be saved for upgraded safety and security, according to district documents.

After more than three years of studying the district’s facility and technology shortfalls, APS officials determined the district is in need of about $511 million to get up to speed.

“As more students and families move to this wonderful community, we need more space to provide…an educational opportunity for those students,” said APS Superintendent Rico Munn.

APS enrollment has grown by more than 7,000 students since 2008, according to district documents. The district now serves about 40,000 students.

However, Munn emphasized the district’s commitment to austerity.

“We’ve identified more than $500 million-worth of need, but even in a bond package we understand that we we want to be responsible and frugal and we’re only asking the community for $300 million that we’re going to try to responsibly address and leverage as much as possible through things like BEST grants and other public private-partnerships,” he said.

Aurora voters approved the district’s last bond-related ballot question, which asked for $215 million in 2008.

There is not an opposition campaign to the “Yes on 3C” group.