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A third grader at AXL Academy worked on math problems in January.

A third grader at AXL Academy worked on math problems in January.

Nicholas Garcia

Aurora gives cashless charter one-year extension with conditions

AURORA — A charter school that had just enough money in the bank to operate through March has been given a reprieve by the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education.

The seven-member board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to give AXL Academy a one-year charter extension, but with several conditions around enrollment, staffing, finances, and academic performance.

District officials assured the board that if the school fails to meet those benchmarks, the board would have the authority to halt the school from reopening in the fall.

The school’s $632,000 shortfall was attributed to lower-than-expected enrollment. The charter had budgeted and hired for 100 more students than had enrolled by early October, when the state sets funding for schools.

As part of the agreement, APS will defer payments AXL owes the district and the school will end the year with a small deficit. School and district officials are banking on more funding from the state next year to make up the end-of-year debt. While the governor’s original budget calls for increases to the state’s per-pupil funding and one-time money for schools, recent projections have made that money less certain.

Among the conditions the school must meet in order for the to reopen in the fall:

  • Re-enroll 85 percent of its students by Feb. 15
  • Secure $150,000 in donations from local foundations by Feb. 15
  • Renegotiate its lease by April 1
  • Hire 90 percent of its staff by June 1
  • Maintain its academic rating given by the state

“We are extremely grateful for the support of the Aurora Public School District and its Board of Directors in granting us this extension,” said Brent Reckman,  co-principal at AXL. “We’re excited to engage in a new process of strategic planning to improve our practices, and we look forward to continuing our work of providing high quality instruction that our families and scholars expect and deserve.”

Board observers and charter school supporters have celebrated APS’s staff and board for working through the budget crisis with AXL. In years past, the suburban school district has been viewed as less friendly to charter schools.

APS memo outlining AXL conditions