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An Aurora Public Schools bus picks up students after school.

An Aurora Public Schools bus picks up students after school.

Nicholas Garcia

Aurora school board OKs overhaul for fifth school

AURORA — The Aurora school board on Tuesday approved a plan to radically redesign a fifth school in the academically struggling district, putting in place another piece of Superintendent Rico Munn’s most ambitious reform strategy.

The school board, on a 6-1 vote, approved Aurora West College Preparatory Academy’s plan that calls for more individualized learning for students, a greater emphasis on cultural diversity and a longer school year.

Pending expected approval by the State Board of Education next month, Aurora West will join four other schools in Aurora to form the district’s first “innovation zone.” The cluster of schools in the Original Aurora neighborhood are some of the district’s most academically troubled.

In Munn’s vision, the zone will allow the schools to work independently of burdensome district and state policy. The schools also will share a common programmatic theme focused on international leadership skills.

Board member Barbara Yamrick opposed the plan, citing concerns over the school’s budget and calendar.

District officials told the school board Tuesday that the state education department said the redesign plans met all the technical requirements under the state’s innovation law and would be forwarded to the State Board in May.

It’s unclear whether the plan created for Aurora Central High School, one of the other schools in the zone, will be enough to stave off possible state sanctions.

The state board and education department are in the early stages of outlining how they plan to address the state’s 29 schools — including Central — that have been rated as failing for five consecutive years. Those schools may be closed, turned over to charter schools or be reimagined under the state’s innovation law.