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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 20, 20186min1614
Tim Krug, who went from outraged over the treatment of a Douglas County high school student to working to elect a new school board, announced he is running for the State Board of Education from the 4th Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Debora Scheffel, who was appointed last week to fill the […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 19, 20173min4496

Douglas County Republicans have come out swinging following news this week that a national teachers union has contributed $300,000 to an independent expenditure committee supporting a union-friendly slate of school board candidates in the upcoming election. The cash windfall comes from the American Federation of Teachers, whose local affiliate Douglas County Federation of Teachers lost its power to collectively bargain with the Douglas County School District in 2012.

The county GOP announced today it is endorsing the race’s other slate of DougCo school board candidates, who support the district’s current education-reform agenda and are opposed by the union. The DougCo GOP posted a statement from county Chair Tanne Blackburn on its website and Facebook page:

“Today, the Douglas County Republican Party endorsed Randy Mills, Ryan Abresch, Debora Scheffel, and Grant Nelson for the 2017 Douglas County School Board Election. Initially, the candidates requested that the party not become involved because they did not want the race to be about politics. However, after learning of $300,000 in spending on out-of-state political consultants by the DC-based American Federation of Teachers on behalf of the Kevin Leung, Krista Holtzmann, Chris Schor and Anthony Graziano, it appears that the CommUnity Slate/Dream Team is determined to bring big politics into this race.

“We are endorsing to help level the playing field and to expose Leung, Holtzmann, Schor, and Graziano’s deception to our community. They are not conservatives and do not hold Republican values. If you typically check the R box on the ballot, you should vote for Mills, Abresch, Scheffel, and Nelson. We hope all Republicans in Douglas County will join us in support of these four…”

Blackburn added, ““Make no mistake, voting for Leung, Schor, Holtzmann, and Graziano will usher a new wave of radical liberal agenda into our schools. Don’t let our county get shAFTed.” (The upper-case AFT is a reference to the union’s acronym — in case that wasn’t clear.)

The GOP-endorsed slate, which is calling itself Elevate Douglas County, is among other things in favor of implementing the district’s as-yet unimplemented school voucher program, which has been tied up by court challenges for several years.

The union-supported slate, known as the Dream Team, is thought likely to nix the program if elected, mooting the court battle.


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandOctober 18, 201711min1085
The first fundraising numbers from school board candidates are in, and there are some lopsided races, at least in terms of the money, in two hotly-watched school board races. JEFFERSON COUNTY In Jeffco, school board candidate fundraising appears to be a tale of the haves and have nots.  Two of the three incumbents on the school […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 7, 20175min4179

A whole new cast of candidates aims to take the baton from the current crop of reformers leading Douglas County schools. They’re calling their four-person slate Elevate Douglas County, and a lot is riding on whether they can carry the day in the upcoming school board election this fall — and restart momentum for change.

Public schools in fast-growing Douglas County have been on the leading edge of education reform for years — for better or for worse, depending on whom you ask. Successive iterations of reform-minded boards elected to lead the Douglas County School District since 2009 have implemented a host of far-reaching changes. That includes effectively ending collective bargaining in 2012 with a local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, which long represented DougCo district faculty and staff, and establishing a groundbreaking but controversial school-voucher program to help pay tuition at private schools of parents’ choosing. That program has been stalled by a court challenge.

The county’s decidedly Republican skew has fostered a fertile climate for such policies, which are crowd pleasers in GOP ranks. Yet, the changes also set off a tug-of-war, even among some Republicans, over just how far the reforms should go. Opponents — supported at times by the state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, which wouldn’t mind bringing the county’s educators into its own fold — have pushed back.

As a result, the DougCo school board now is split 4-3 in favor of the ongoing reforms — it’s a thin margin on which to continue that mandate — and losing just one more seat likely would result in an outright about-face by the board. That could happen in the board election this November.

Elevate Douglas County would bring all fresh faces to the board: Randy Mills, Debora Scheffel, Grant Nelson and Ryan Abresch. Scheffel, who is the sister of Republican former state Sen. Mark Scheffel, is well-known as a former member of the State Board of Education. The four are seeking the seats of current reformers James Geddes, Steven Peck, Judith Reynolds and Meghann Silverthorn — the four members whose terms expire this fall. No word yet on their intentions and whether they’ll stand aside for the new wave of change agents.

The Elevate slate announced in a press statement today that all four have filed their paperwork as candidates for the November face-off, and they touted these objectives:

The slate is focused on quelling the discord and division in the district while renewing the tradition of excellence in Douglas County Schools, empowering parents to be partners in their children’s education, fostering an environment that supports and respects educators, and expanding educational options, such as career and technical training, for students.

The slate’s announcement closely follows last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering Colorado’s Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling two years ago barring DougCo from implementing its voucher program. The state’s highest court had ruled at the time that Colorado’s constitution included, “broad, unequivocal language forbidding the State from using public money to fund religious schools.” Last week’s ruling by the nation’s top court, following its decision on a related case, sets the stage for a potentially landmark ruling by the state Supreme Court — that could reopen the door to vouchers in DougCo.

Given its overall trajectory, the Elevate slate presumably would stand by the previous board majority’s support for the idled voucher program, though that does not so far seem to be a big part of the slate’s campaign platform.