In the last edition of Your Schools I shared that the Aurora City School District is one of only six school districts in Ohio, out of over 600, that earned a perfect score of five stars in all five categories on the Ohio Department of Education State Report Card for the second year in a row. This rating indicated that the district significantly exceeded state expectations in each of the categories measured. However, the practices we put in place are not a result of focusing on outcomes such as good test scores and five-star rankings. The five-star rankings are a natural byproduct of the philosophy, practices, and pedagogy that are in place. Our goal as educators is not to raise test scores, but to help raise human beings. That is the narrative we would like you to take away from this report card…a narrative of Aurora Learners who are Future Ready. We are grateful for the ever-present support of the Aurora Community to help us reach this level of achievement and so I wanted to be sure to start this update with a heartfelt thank you.
PI Renewal Levy- No New Taxes
On March 19, 2024 you will see that the Aurora City School District has placed a 1.5 mil Permanent Improvement (PI) Renewal Levy on the ballot. Because this levy is a renewal it means that it will not increase your taxes. This levy has been renewed by the community six prior times as it was first put on the ballot in 1989. Even though the school district receives the same amount of money as it did 1989, the levy actually costs a taxpayer less than it did in 1989 because there are now more houses in Aurora to spread the cost over. Therefore, the total price tag of the 1.5 mil PI levy to the Aurora Community is now actually under one mil. These funds are nonetheless important as they go towards upkeep and repair of infrastructure which lasts five years or more such as roofs, roads, busses and boilers. The funds have also been used to help pay down Leighton Intermediate School since it was first built in 2001.
Potential New Construction Update
Believe it or not, this process is now in its third year as we first started way back in March of 2022 with staff and family surveys along with input from the Superintendent’s Advisory Council and the Aurora Community. Over the last two years, there has been overwhelming support to look into the possibility of new construction with the goal of replacing Craddock, which was built in 1911, with a new 9-12 high school and then moving the first and second grades in Craddock along with the pre-school at Miller to Leighton. Grades 3-5, currently at Leighton, would move to Harmon, and grades 6-8 at Harmon and the Board of Education offices would then occupy the old high school. (Kindergarten would stay at Miller). This plan would provide much needed updated facilities and room to grow for literally the next generation of Greenmen.
Over the next year, we will continue to work on our Master Planning process with a goal of having a series of staff and community meetings that will help our architects from ThenDesign Architecture (TDA) to develop a solid overall plan for a new high school. The goal of the district is to have a Bond Issue for this project on the November 2024 ballot.
Earlier in 2024, we met with the Aurora High School Instructional Leaders and Staff in order to gather their feedback on the preliminary Master Plans for a new high school. Also, in February, we will have the first meeting of our Construction Steering Committee which is a group of over 20 parents, staff, administrators, and community members who will serve as a sounding board for our construction plans and as a liaison to the community. This will be preceded by meetings with the Miller, Craddock, Leighton, and Harmon staff in early February which will be held to garner input on what they would like to see in terms of renovations to the current buildings. These meetings will help with the transition in phase II of our plans should a new high school building be constructed.
These meetings will eventually lead to a series of community events we anticipate taking place in late April and early May with the goal of having final plans set prior to the start of summer break. Over the summer, the Aurora Board of Education will decide whether to place the proposed plan on the November 2024 ballot. If they do, then a campaign would be organized in the Fall of 2024 to get the word out to the broader community for a bond issue on the November 2024 ballot.
Although there is still a long way to go and much work to be done, we are excited for the journey. Over the next year we, along with TDA, will be holding meetings and will continue developing the Master Plan for this project. Please be sure to keep an eye out for those community meetings coming up in the late spring. For the latest information on this project, you can visit our district website at www.aurora-schools.org and click on the link titled “ACSD Facilities Master Planning Project.” In the meantime, thank you for your continued support and partnership as we all work to nurture the competencies (critical thinking, collaboration, empathy, resilience, balance, and being innovative) within our strategic vision, that will lead to young people in our schools becoming Aurora Learners who are Future Ready.