APS board hopefuls Mason, Reinhard and Ortiz win seats

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AURORA | In an at-large race for three seats on the Aurora Public Schools board of eduction, two teacher-union backed candidates and a district parent have won their seats, vote tallies show.

Stephanie Mason and Vicki Reinhard, two candidates supported by the Aurora Education Association union, secured the most of the vote count after the Nov. 5 election, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Reinhard has received about 25 percent of votes cast. Mason has won over 22 percent cast, as of 2:25 p.m. Friday.

Winning the third seat, parent Nichelle Ortiz has received over 20 percent of the vote, just above former school board President Amber Drevon’s 19.11 percent.

Three-time board member Barbara Yamrick is in last place with about 14 percent of the vote.

Five candidates were running for three open school board seats in Aurora Public Schools to help lead the approximately 40,000-student school system for the next four years.

The board decides everything between hiring or firing the superintendent, contracting with school lunch providers and whether charter schools can operate in the district.

Those open three seats will be vacated in November by Monica Colbert — who is not running for re-election —  and Dan Jorgensen and Cathy Wildman, who have both served two four-year terms and are termed limited.

Stephanie Mason said her children and grandchildren have been APS students. She said she has long been involved in the Parent Teacher Student Organization at Columbia Middle School. Her top spending priority is investing generally into schools.

The other union-backed candidate, and victor, is Vicki Reinhard. She’s a former special education teacher in the district who said she recently retired. She was also the vice president of the teacher union. Her spending priority is attracting and retaining high-quality teachers.

Nichelle Ortiz will fill a seat on the APS school board as well. In a Facebook post, she said she is a parent to three APS students and a regular school volunteer for about a decade. She also said her spending priority is attracting and retaining high quality teachers.

The November school board election could change the course of the district.

APS has improved slowly but steadily as a whole in recent years, according to the Colorado Department of Education’s annual school and district ratings. Despite relatively low ratings at several schools — Aurora Central High School, North Middle School and Gateway High School — graduation rates and test scores are generally up.