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With students leaving one side of Aurora and new students showing up on the opposite end of the city, the Aurora school district needed a new plan to rearrange classroom space. It started collecting public opinion and crafting a long-term plan five years ago.

Yet now many parents are upset, and school board members are split over the next key step — to close two elementary schools.

At a chaotic board meeting that stretched almost until midnight last month, board members grilled the administration about its plans, proposed closing different schools, and called it unfair that they may be asked to provide alternative guidance if they rejected the superintendent’s proposal. In the end, they delayed a vote and decided to take up the closure proposal later this month.

There’s no painless way to close a school, experts and educators say, no matter how much work and time a district puts in.

The goal, researchers say, is to allow communities to feel empowered in crafting solutions, and to feel their voice was heard. Although Aurora tried to do that, some parents feel they weren’t consulted early enough, nor informed about potential school closures.

In reorganizing campuses, Aurora officials said they can’t keep all schools open and still provide broad and high-quality academics and enriching programs everywhere.

“Small schools are a legitimate approach but you have to design the entire system then to support that,” Superintendent Rico Munn said. “It’s a dramatic philosophical switch.”


Yesenia Robles is Chalkbeat Colorado’s Suburban Reporter looking at changes happening in Denver’s suburban school districts. Yesenia grew up in Denver, graduated from CU Boulder and is fluent in Spanish. She previously covered suburbs, education...