The reputation of our public schools drives economic development. Employers want to locate their operations where they can attract the best workforce, and families want to live in communities where they believe the schools will best meet the needs of their children.
When it comes to public education, policy is ultimately decided by our state legislators and by locally-elected school boards. However, the city plays a role, too. If I’m elected as Aurora’s next mayor, I commit to making the city a productive partner for Aurora’s schools: (1) making it my top public safety priority to keep our students safe when they are in school, (2) better integrating the development of Aurora’s parks, recreation facilities, and recreation programs with our public schools, and (3), promoting a better image of Aurora’s schools by touting the many successes of the schools and districts that serve Aurora.
First, I believe that the most important function of government, whether that’s at the federal, the state, or at the local level, is to protect its citizens. In the City of Aurora, that translates into a local responsibility to protect all of our residents and, within that requirement, my top public safety priority will be to help make sure that all of our students are kept safe when they are in school. I will work hard to make sure that the Aurora Police Department has the resources it needs, in partnership with the school districts’ security teams, to protect our children, whether they are in the classroom or out on the playground.
Second, I will work to integrate the resources that the City of Aurora allocates to the Department of Parks and Recreation by, whenever possible, co-locating our parks, recreation facilities, and recreation programs either adjacent to or within our public schools. This will translate to not only a better and more efficient use of our parks, recreational facilities, and recreation programs through cooperative agreements (i.e. the school district picks up the maintenance cost of an athletic field that was built by the City of Aurora and is adjacent to one of its schools); it will also reduce the financial burden on our school districts from having to independently build athletic fields or swimming pools.
The net results of my policy will be to allow our school districts to shift more of their limited resources into the classroom and away from having to meet these physical education and recreation requirements. An existing example of this would be the location of the City of Aurora’s Utah Indoor Pool that is next to Overland High School and gives easy access to Overland’s competitive swimming program.
Third, I will tirelessly use my position as the Mayor for the City of Aurora to promote what I call the “flagship academic programs” in our public schools. Let’s raise awareness of the many options available — to the children of all families — to get a great education in the City of Aurora. An example of this would be starting every speech with a “did you know that…?” promotion. Examples: Aurora Public Schools has two International Bachelorette programs; Aurora Central High School is an official satellite campus of the Community College of Aurora, where a high school student can earn up to 50 hours of college credit; and Aurora Public Schools has a new partnership with Colorado State University-Global, where APS graduates now have the opportunity to pursue online CSU college credits at deeply discounted rates.
An Aurora mayor does not make education policy, but an Aurora mayor can be helpful in making a difference by promoting policies that support our school districts. If I’m elected as your next mayor, that’s exactly what I will be doing.
Mike Coffman is a candidate for Mayor of the City of Aurora: www.mikeforauroramayor.com