APS chief recommends 5 Aurora charter schools contract renewals

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AURORA | Five charter schools with more than 3,300 students will stay open in Aurora Public Schools if school board members agree with a district recommendation to renew their contracts. 

School board members heard Tuesday from leaders and teachers at five charter schools working in APS: Aurora Academy, Aurora Expeditionary Learning Academy, Rocky Mountain Prep, Academy of Advanced Learning and Global Village Academy. Board members will vote on the contract extensions January 21. 

In Colorado’s charter school system, residents can start their own schools but must have a contract authorized by a local school district or state government.

The school contracts expire in 2020, except for the Academy of Advanced Learning. Its contract expires in 2021, but school leaders asked for an early review.

The district Office of Autonomous Schools conducted reviews of the charter schools, all but one of which — Global Village Academy — earned the highest rating from the state Department of Education for the last school year. 

Together, the five schools are educating more than 3,300 students from Aurora or surrounding areas, according to district enrollment projections. 

Munn recommended timeframes for contract extensions, before the district would audit the schools’ performance again:

  • Rocky Mountain Prep, five-year extension
  • Academy of Advanced Learning, five-year extension
  • Aurora Academy, five-year extension
  • Aurora Expeditionary Learning Academy, two-year extension
  • Global Village Academy, two-year extension

The district audit found issues at some schools and could remedy fixes as part of possible contract renewals. 

McKenzie Khan, the district director of charter schools, said AXL suffered from “massive turnover.” School officials told the school board that the problem stemmed from personnel issues and can be remedied. 

Global Village Academy also saw a frequent change in leadership, district auditors said, and needs a better process for evaluating student academic success. 

The Academy of Advanced Learning was in breach of a requirement to hold part of its budget in a reserve under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Munn also recommended that the school enroll more students.