Welcome to the December 2018 edition of the
APS Board of Education Newsletter!
On behalf of the APS Board of Education, I’d like to thank the Aurora community for their continued support of Aurora Public Schools through the passage of our mill levy. We are grateful for the approval of the mill levy that will provide much needed resources for the support of teachers and students.
The Board would also like to wish the Aurora Public Schools family a happy and safe holiday season. As we embark on a new year, we will face challenges that will provide an opportunity for APS to embrace new philosophies while displaying collaboration and problem-solving skills. The Board is devoted to the success of our students and welcomes all viewpoints and ideas to achieve that end.
Remember, the voice of the public is so important! We look forward to continued conversations on the future of APS, and we hope that you, the public, will join us in the coming months!
- Marques Ivey, J.D., APS Board President
Key Board News
Mill Levy Passes!
Thanks to Aurora voters who passed a $35 million mill levy on November 6 to fund health and safety measures in Aurora Public Schools! Because of their generosity, schools will be able to hire additional mental health professionals and receive training for all staff to recognize when students need more mental health supports. Elementary schools will receive funding for after-school programs that keep kids safe at school and provide academic and enrichment opportunities. Teachers and all staff will receive much needed raises to attract and retain the best candidates. And finally, new buses will be equipped with seatbelts.
A special thanks goes to the Aurora Citizens for Excellent Schools committee (ACES) headed up by John Britz and William Stuart who worked tirelessly to campaign on behalf of Aurora’s students. Health and safety go hand in hand with learning. This mill levy override makes it possible. Thank you, Aurora voters!
Rico Munn - 2019 Colorado Superintendent of the Year
Congratulations to Superintendent Rico Munn who was named the 2019 Colorado Superintendent of the Year by the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE). CASE Executive Director Lisa Escarcega and former Cherry Creek Superintendent Harry Bull presented the superintendent with a beautiful, etched glass award at the November 13 Board meeting.
The APS Board presented Superintendent Munn with a donation in his honor to the Denver Urban Debate League, a youth organization he helped launch in 2008. Congratulations, Superintendent Munn!
Out and About - Board Members in Our Schools and Community
New Building For Mrachek
On September 27, I had the pleasure of attending the Grand Opening Celebration at Mrachek Middle School along with Board colleagues Marques Ivey, Debbie Gerkin and Cathy Wildman. After the successful bond passage in 2016 and months of hard work and planning from community members and district leaders, it was a privilege to celebrate in the new building that will serve thousands of Aurora kids for years to come!
Left: Seventh grader Isabelle Gallegos speaks at the grand opening.
Right: Brooklynn Colbert helped her mother campaign for the bond election.
Mill Levy Campaign
I had the privilege of joining members of the Aurora Citizens for Excellent Schools (ACES) on several occasions as we spread the good word about APS being a District of Momentum and campaigned in support of the 2018 Mill Levy Override. We spoke to PTOs, homeowners associations, community groups, and City Council and were always welcomed enthusiastically. What a great pleasure it is to advocate for our students and families!
APS Avenues Celebrates Discovery Graduation
On November 1, fellow Board Director Cathy Wildman, Executive Director of School Performance Kathleen Shiverdecker, and I had the pleasure of joining students and staff of APS Avenues for their Discovery Graduation. Assistant Director Erik Bailey welcomed students and encouraged them to be resilient and persevere throughout their lives as they had demonstrated they could do during the Discovery program. Students will now go on to finish their high school requirements and earn their diplomas with the unique support of APS Avenues.
Left: Assistant Director Erik Bailey
Right: Students celebrate their time of Discovery.
I had the privilege of attending a number of fabulous events during the month of November. Here are couple of the highlights for me:
5A Election Watch Party
On election night, supporters of the APS mill levy, including my Board colleagues Cathy Wildman and Debbie Gerkin, attended an election watch party to follow the election results as they were being released. The results were exactly what we were hoping for with a strong winning margin! We want to thank the APS electorate for your support of the APS mill levy. The additional funds will greatly benefit our schools by providing much needed services while also improving our employee compensation.
Aurora School of Science & Technology Open House
I attended an open house that included the unveiling of the name for the new Aurora DSST campus. It will open its doors to 150 6th graders next fall. The event included remarks by Superintendent Rico Munn, Founding School Director Peter Sherman, and Bill Kurtz, CEO of DSST schools. Welcome to the AST Owls! For more information about this event, view the clip on Aurora television.
Left: Founding Director Peter Sherman shares the new campus name.
Right: The new AST Owl logo
Art Show Uplifts Kindness
On October 29, Aurora Mental Health, in partnership with Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek Public Schools, participated in the Living Life to the Fullest student art show and contest, which featured the theme Be Kind. Students created a total of 288 art and photography pieces that demonstrated what they believe kindness means.
Winners from APS included Isabella Drew with “When You Give a Kid Some Kindness” from Hinkley High School; Jasmine Tucker with “If You Are My Shield, I Will Be Your Umbrella” from William Smith High School; and Trinity Helfin with “Love One Another” from Aurora Central High School. Teachers with winning students were recognized and received gift certificates. All students enjoyed dinner and the program.
Left: Isabella Drew – Hinkley High School – “When You Give a Kid Some Kindness”
Right: Trinity Helfin - Aurora Central High School - “Love One Another”
Students enjoyed dinner and the art program.
Veterans Day Celebration
On November 7, I joined veterans and non-veterans at Wings Over the Rockies to honor those who have served our country in the military. It is always a privilege to be a part of honoring those who have served. Each armed service was represented with the presentation of their flags and song. We will never fully understand the sacrifices that have been made or how it was accomplished but we are thankful.
A special tribute went to the military members who did not return. Numerous emotions come to the surface with the Missing Man or Fallen Soldier Table presentation.
A big thank you to all of those who have served.
Fallen Soldier Table honors veterans who died in service.
Executive Internship Sponsor Appreciation Dinner
Board member Marques Ivey and I celebrated with sponsors, parents and staff the accomplishments of 58 executive interns as they completed their internship programs on Wednesday, December 5. Students were given the opportunity to have a better understanding of career path choices with hands-on experiences. Each student presented a short speech about their accomplishments and how this is helping them achieve their career goals. Students shared their next steps after graduation.
Pickens Technical College executive interns are honored during the appreciation dinner.
Blueprint APS Presentations
It has been a pleasure for every Board member to engage with our community through Blueprint APS. Each and every group had numerous questions and responses to the guided questions. Groups provided their own unique perspective about the direction APS should pursue. The dialogue has been very important to the future of APS. I am looking forward to the "what if" and "what then" report to the Board in December.
Board Training and Team Building Retreat
APS Board members participated in the Colorado Association of School Boards Convention, December 6-9. The theme was Govern, Advocate and Lead - A Vision for the Future. This was an opportunity for Board members to participate in professional development.
Subjects of interest included aligning brain development and Generation Z students; family engagement policies; data, planning, and accountability; suicide prevention; teacher salaries and turnover; brain science and support of learning; student achievement in an age of scarcity and social media were some of the topics that were covered. There were numerous opportunities to discuss issues in education with Board peers across the state.
The weekend concluded with a team-building and goal-setting retreat facilitated by Angela Paccione, co-author of Do Big Things.
Back row left to right: Dan Jorgensen, Kevin Cox, Rico Munn
Front row left to right: Kyla Armstrong-Romero, Marques Ivey, Cathy Wildman, Debbie Gerkin, Monica Colbert, Marcelina Rivera
Foreground: Angela Paccione takes the selfie.