Who Is In Charge

$325,000 for district tax elections

Updated 4 p.m. Oct. 29 – Contributions in district tax proposal campaigns have exceeded $325,000, according to campaign finance reports filed by a Friday deadline.

LogoA bit less than a third of that total is accounted for by the Douglas County Citizens for Education Reform, which is backing Issue 3A, a $20 million tax increase for operating expenses, and 3B, a $200 million bond issue. The committee has raised $83,470 and carried over $20,921 from a prior campaign.

The largest recent individual contribution is $5,000 from ICS, a Wyoming-based technology company. (See this article for information on other Dougco contributions.)

The committee has spent $79,156, including $35,530 in the most recent reporting period, which covers activity from Oct. 7 to Oct. 23. The bulk of the recent spending, $32,285, was with Wizbang Solutions, a Commerce City direct mail company.

Spending by committees in other districts is similarly focused on printing and direct mail.

After Douglas County, the next largest amount of money has been raised in Mesa County, where District 51 is asking voters to approve a $12.8 million override, a six-year increase in property taxes to compensate for the effects of recent budget cuts.

The Friends of District 51 has raised $48,975 and spent $43,886. The committee has had substantial support from corporate donors and the local affiliate of the Colorado Education Association. A large recent contributor was George K. Baum Co., the Denver bond firm, which gave $5,000. Baum is one of the small number of firms that work with Colorado school districts on bond issues and financing.

Other top districts

Here are snapshots of fundraising in other districts where committees have raised at least $10,000:

Roaring Fork ($4.2 million override) – A group named Children First has raised $29,432 and spent $15,059. The Roaring Fork Public Education Foundation donated $3,925 during the most recent reporting period.

Cheyenne Mountain ($1.7 million override) – Friends of Cheyenne Mountain Schools has raised $26,625 and spent $22,529.

Englewood ($50 million bond, $1.5 million override) – Citizens for Englewood Schools has raised $21,666 and spent $19,700. The most recent reporting period included a $1,000 contribution from JVA Inc., a Boulder engineering firm. (Like bond houses and teachers unions, architects, engineers and construction companies are frequent contributors in district tax elections.)

Eagle County ($6 million override) – Citizens for Eagle County Schools has raised $19,550, $17,550 in the latest reporting period. Spending totals $19,352, most of that also in the latest period. Major recent contributors include East End Partners of Avon $5,000; G.E. Johnson Construction of Grand Junction, $2,500, and Vail Resorts, $5,000.

Brighton ($4.8 million override) – Parents for 27J Students has raised $13,807 and spent $11,098.

Thompson ($12.8 million override) – Community Coalition for Local schools has raised $10,807 and spent $5,648. In the latest reporting period Loveland Surgical Associates gave $1,000.

Alamosa ($6 million bond) – Alamosans for Great Schools has raised $10,641 and spent $10,150.

Garfield RE-2 ($4.8 million override) – Friends of Garfield RE-2 has raised $10,632 and spent $2,864.

The Falcon district is proposing an $85 million bond and a $5 million override. Two committees, Investment in Our Kids and Commitment for Kids, are registered as active with the Department of State, but neither has filed any reports this year.

Building D70 Communities, a committee that’s supporting the Pueblo County proposals for a $35 million bond and a $3.4 million override, reported fundraising of $7,900 and spending of $7,714.

Education News Colorado reviewed Oct. 28 filings by 26 committees in 24 districts. The total raised was $325,722. More than $570 million worth of bond issues and overrides is being sought by 35 Colorado school districts this year. Four districts, Douglas County, Englewood, Falcon and Pueblo County, are seeking both.

This story was updated to include reports that weren’t available on Oct. 28.

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.