Residents in Boulder and across Colorado are called to cast their ballots on Nov. 3 for new school board candidates. As that date draws closer, newspapers have increased coverage of the candidates and contested issues.
Candidates from Boulder Valley School District discuss the achievement gap, school districts in Arapahoe County look for more involved, more informed voters, while the recall election in Jefferson County School District receives more coverage than the regular election.
The achievement gap has become an issue for BVSD which receives significant funding every year but also has one of the largest achievement gaps in the state. All four candidates running for the school board recognize the problem but have different ways of approaching it.
Chris Barge and Kathy Gebhardt face off in District C, while incumbent Shelly Benford and newcomer Denny McCloskey fight for a seat in District A.
Candidates elected to a school board make a tremendous difference in the policies set for a district’s public schools. Despite the difference that school board members can have on policy, voter turnout to school board elections is traditionally low. Voter and education advocacy organizations are trying to change that.
Bruce Caughey is the executive director of the Colorado Association of School Board Executives and considers it “unfortunate that so many in our communities don’t know who is running for their school board.” With tight budgets it is even more critical that residents vote for candidates who will represent their priorities and use their tax money appropriately.
While BVSD candidates focus on the achievement gap, residents of Jefferson County School District are currently worried about other issues.
Months of contention in the district has led to the recall election of school board members Ken Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk, which coincides with the regular election. This means JeffCo may have five new members presiding on the board after the election.
This election “is incredibly important to the future of our children, to the future of our teachers, to the future of our neighbors and to the future of our schools . . . this is one of the most important things to have ever faced Jefferson County,” according to former JeffCo Superintendent Cindy Stevenson.