Colorado Succeeds and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce joined forces to host the business community for a conversation to discuss the metro area’s school board elections on the ballot this fall.
Often overlooked by the public, school board elections are important to our students, while also critical to our businesses and economy. Strong schools have strong economic impact, and school boards matter.
Kelly Brough, Chamber President, kicked off the conversation noting the turnover of superintendents in five of Colorado’s largest districts over the past year, and the foundational role a board plays in a district’s stability. “School boards also set the course for how a district handles teacher accountability, what choices families have when it comes to learning philosophies and educational opportunities, and a district’s ability to be agile in the face of challenges – certainly something we needed from our districts during the pandemic,” explained Brough.
To draw more attention and engagement from the business community, Scott Laband, President of Colorado Succeeds, hosted a panel of education advocates representing the left, right, and center of education policy in the state, including:
- Jen Walmer, State Director for Democrats for Education Reform – Colorado,
- Dan Schaller, President of the Colorado League of Charter Schools, and
- Tyler Sandberg, Vice President & Co-Founder of Ready Colorado
The conversation kicked off with a lay of the electoral landscape in four key districts:
- Denver Public Schools with 4 of 7 seats up for election, with 12 candidates and 1 incumbent already filed for the ballot
- Aurora Public Schools with 4 of 7 seats up for election, with 4 candidates and 1 incumbent filed
- Jefferson County Schools with 3 of 5 seats up for election, with only one candidate filed so far, and
- Douglas County Schools with 4 of 7 seats up for election, and 5 candidates filed for the ballot.
Hammering on the importance of removing partisan politics from the educational landscape, all three panelists stressed the need for the candidate’s platforms to put the interest of kids (not adults) first while also having a strategic plan/vision and roadmap for getting there. The panel discussed language to look for when considering candidates and specifically called out sound fiscal oversight and budget management, being weary of those who just want to throw more money into the system without a discussion on how dollars are best allocated first.
All three panelists and their organizations are channeling their resources to support candidates that align with a student-centric approach aligned to Vision 2030 and made a plea for the business community to get more deeply involved in what are otherwise overlooked, but vitally critical races. An obvious need is for more high-quality, strategic board candidates who can leverage their skills to lead large and complex school districts. The other is for campaign donations to help draw more public attention to key races.
Tyler Sandberg with Ready Colorado noted that only a total of $650 was spent among all candidates during Summit County’s last school board election, signifying a general lack of advocacy and attention on positions that have a significant effect on our communities.
The school board races and November ballot will continue to be a topic of conversation among Colorado Succeeds members in the coming months, but your action is needed now. If you are interested in learning more about the races in your area, the process and supports for running, or want to connect with a left, right, or center political advocacy group or PAC, please complete this interest form.
“The timing for these conversations is urgent,” stressed Laband. “What we do now and the role we play, will dictate the future of our students, communities, and businesses well into the future. We can’t afford to sit back on this one.”