ENDORSEMENT: Aurora Public Schools question 5A would fund progress by dealing with reality

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If you ask teachers in Aurora Public Schools, and pretty much most metro-area urban school districts. what holds students back most, they would agree that it’s the lives of the students themselves.

There’s no doubt that money for better digital chalkboards and the best chemistry labs available could go a long ways in helping make students smarter and more successful.

But what so many students need in Aurora public schools is help with their personal lives. Ballot Question 5A seeks to  raise property taxes for operating revenue to address the reality of what the school district struggles with themselves.

A large portion of the $35 million annual budget increase from the mill-levy override would provide a bevy of programs and positions that focus on behavioral and mental health programs, positions and enhancements. They’re desperately needed not just for students whose families struggle desperately against poverty and homelessness, but all students. Students with autism,  insomnia, social anxiety, and increasingly widespread depression can’t do better until they get better.

Aurora Public Schools officials are boldly asking voters to increase funding in a way that will do much more to elevate student performance than most spending programs ever could.

In addition, the increase that asks for a nominal $24 a month in taxes on a $300,000 home would increase dismal teacher pay and pay for a program that will begin installing seat belts on school buses, an issue likely to become mandatory in the future.

But endless studies and anecdotes from teachers have made it clear that school districts like Aurora first need to ensure all students are capable of learning well before they’re able to take advantage of all that the school district offers.

We congratulate the district for directly addressing the serious and too often discounted issue of mental health as it affects education and student quality of life. Everyone in the Aurora community will benefit by voting yes on Question 5A.