Aurora Charter School has been operation since September 2000. In April 1998, a consortium of education and social service professionals working within the Hispanic community of Minneapolis began meeting to address a number of growing concerns. Chief among these concerns were the disproportionately high drop-out rates among Hispanic students and the need for change in the existing system for new immigrant students. The group explored research from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Bilingual Education. They found compelling evidence regarding the dual language/bilingual education model, and Aurora Charter School was born.
Aurora opened in 2000 with 53 K-1 students, adding a grade level each consecutive year. The school now serves Kindergarten-8th grade with more than 440 students. Aurora Charter School also added a preschool in 2014, which serves an additional 20 students. The decision to add this program came, again, out of the disproportionate lack of affordable and high quality preschool education within the Hispanic community to prepare children for school.
The majority of our students live in the South Minneapolis area (64%). From the North Side of Minneapolis, we draw 30% of our students, and 6% live outside of the Minneapolis area. Aurora's students are 99% Hispanic identified (1% Black). The majority of our students come from homes where Spanish is the first and primary language. For many of our parents, the United States is their second home: they grew up in a Spanish speaking country, and English is their second language. 79% of Aurora Charter School students are English Learners. 96% of Aurora's students qualify for free or reduced price breakfast and lunch, and the school has a consistent annual attendance rate of 96%, which surpasses the state standard.
Our Staff & Operations
Aurora's staff of 59 includes 30 teachers. Our teachers in preschool through second grade are native Spanish speakers and bilingual in Spanish and English. They have the knowledge and skills to teach Spanish curriculum. These skills are fundamental to teaching these grade levels because the primary instructional language and first language of literacy for our preschool through second grade students is Spanish. Beginning in the third grade through fifth grade, students split their day between Spanish and English, increasing English literacy while maintaining their first language. Beginning in the 6th grade through 8th grade, the language of instruction is English with a Spanish class to maintain their Spanish language. Currently, 68% of Aurora's staff are bilingual or native Spanish speakers.
Grade levels share a teaching assistant. There are eight teaching assistants, and all are native Spanish speakers or bilingual. Key support and intervention staff are also native Spanish-speaking or bilingual. By having Spanish speaking and bilingual staff, it assures that there are no language barriers for the students or parents and allows for parents to stay involved in their children's education.
Currently, our school leadership includes two administrators, two receptionists, and an administrative assistant who perform Aurora Charter School's day-to-day operations and ensure that the school continues to be a wonderful place to learn and work for all students and employees.