Who Is In Charge

War chests bulk up in district campaigns

Supporters of the proposed Jefferson County Schools tax increases have raised more than $145,000 for their campaign to pass measures 3A and 3B, far outpacing the $5,145 raised by an opposition group.

Election 2012 LogoBut a group supporting Cherry Creek’s proposed tax hike has raised even more, $157,414, and doesn’t face organized opposition.

And in Aurora, the group supporting that district’s tax proposal, Aurora Citizens for Excellent Schools, raised more than $121,000.

The two Jeffco groups, Citizens for Jeffco Schools and No on 3A/3B, as well as Citizens for Cherry Creek Schools and the Aurora committee all filed campaign finance reports with the secretary of state’s office ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for committees involved in school district elections.

Learn more

Find contributors by going to these pages and clicking on the “View Expenditures” link at the bottom on each page

Info on district proposals

The Jeffco school district is asking voters to approve a $99 million bond issue and a $39 million operating revenue increase. Cherry Creek is seeking a $125 million bond and a $25 million operating increase. Aurora is seeking an operating increase of $15 million.

The campaign committee supporting Denver’s proposed tax measures didn’t file its full report early. But preliminary documents, called major contribution reports, submitted recently give an indication of the money being raised.

Together for Denver’s Schools reported major contributions of $96,000. Larger donors included PCL Construction at $5,000, CDL Homes of Westminster with $10,000, Infinity Communities of Greenwood Village at $5,000, the Texas-based Weekley Group of Companies at $10,000, KB Homes with $10,000 and New Town Builders of Denver at $10,000.

Also, oilman Ron Williams gave $10,000 and Bernadette Marquez donated $25,000. Williams is chair and CEO of the Gary-Williams Co., the major funder of the Piton Foundation, which in turn is a significant contributor to education initiatives. Marquez, along with her husband, Timothy, have their own foundation and have been major donors to educational causes, including the Denver Scholarship Foundation.

In the last 30 days before an election, campaign committees are required to file major contribution reports on gifts of $1,000 or more within 24 hours of receipt.

Denver voters will decide a $466 million bond and a $49 million operating increase.

Jeffco fundraising

Citizens for Jeffco Schools reported raising $145,102 and having $48,656 remaining in its bank account for the reporting period that covered July 22 through Oct. 10. Most of the group’s $66,934 in spending was on printing and mailing costs.

The Jefferson County Education Association donated $30,000, and the JCEA’s parent union, the Colorado Education Association, gave $7,000. The campaign committee also received $5,000 from the Jefferson Foundation and $4,000 from Haselden Construction. The Jefferson County Administrators’ Association gave $2,351.50. (A larger JCAA amount recorded in Department of State records is incorrect.)

During the previous reporting period, which ran from June 18 to July 21, Citizens for Jeffco Schools received $20,000 from Robert W. Baird & Co. of Milwaukee, Wisc., the district’s investment banker and $15,000 from FirstBank Holding Co. of Lakewood.

The Jeffco opposition group, No on 3A/3B, received only one large contribution, $5,000 from Frank Bannister, president of Western Oil and Gas Development in Oklahoma City.

Details on Cherry Creek

Citizens for Cherry Creek Schools’ total fundraising is $157,414, and the group had $61,553 remaining in the bank. The bulk of its spending has been on mailing costs and consultant MIDG Group of Denver.

The Cherry Creek Administrators’ Association donated $8,000 and the CEA contributed $6,000. Larger corporate contributions include $5,000 from Adolfson and Peterson, a construction firm that works with many school districts; $5,000 from South Quincy Residential Developers; $10,000 from MDC Holdings; and $5,000 from Meritage Homes. The committee also received contributions from several architectural firms and donations from nearly two dozen school parent-teacher organizations in the district.

Sources of support in Aurora

Aurora Citizens for Excellent Schools has raised $121,587 and has $66,507 on hand. Most of the $55,079 spent in the most recent period was for campaign consulting.

Major contributions include $42,000 from the Aurora Public Schools Education Foundation, $2,000 from the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado, $10,000 from RB Capital Markets, $3,000 from CEA, $10,000 from Benson Mineral Group, $5,000 from Stapleton developer Forest City Enterprises and $10,000 from Daniel Ritchie, CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and a well-known figure in education circles.

Around the state

The four large metro-area districts are among 30 Colorado school districts seeking voter approval this year for a combined total of about $1.03 billion in bond issues and property tax increases for operating expenses.

About $664 of the total is accounted for by the Denver and Jefferson County proposals.

Twenty-one districts have proposed bond issues, with 14 of those are to raise local matches for state construction grants. Fifteen districts are seeking increases for operating funds. Seven districts are seeking both.

Nov. 2 is the next reporting deadline for campaign committees involved in district tax elections.

Other campaign finance reports

Monday was the reporting deadline for legislative candidates and the political committees that contribute to them.

There was modest activity reported in the latest period by the education-related groups that EdNews has been tracking this election season.

The JCEA Small Donor Committee gave $2,500 to the House Majority Project, a Democratic Party group, and $2,000 to Democratic Rep. Max Tyler in District 28, one of several battleground races in Jefferson County this year. He also received $2,250 from the Public Education Committee, the CEA’s main political arm. It was the group’s only candidate contribution during the latest reporting period.

The St. Vrain Valley Education Association Small Donor Committee contributed $1,000 each to House candidates Daniel Kagan, Deb Primavera, Jonathan Singer, Matt Jones and Mike Foote and to Senate hopefuls Andy Kerr and Evie Hudak. Contributions of $500 each went to House candidates Cherilyn Peniston and Dave Young and to Senate contender Crestina Martinez. All are Democrats.

Disclosure: The Piton Foundation is a funder of Education News Colorado.

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.