Who Is In Charge

Big fundraising in DPS campaign

Together for Denver’s Schools, the committee supporting the proposed Denver Public Schools bond issue and operating tax increase, listed contributions of $312,420 in the most recent reporting period, with an additional $121,000 in large gifts reported after that.

Election 2012 LogoAn opposition group, No on Denver 3B Bond, has raised $1,590.

District voters will decide a $49 million operating increase, on the ballot as measure 3A, and the $466 million bond issue, measure 3B.

Elsewhere around the metro area, more than $420,000 has been raised in campaigns to pass tax proposals in the Aurora, Cherry Creek and Jeffco school districts.

Together for Denver’s Schools registered with the secretary of state’s office in late July and raised contributions quickly in the July 22 to Oct. 11 reporting period. But the committee also has garnered substantial large gifts since Oct. 11. 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.

Donations to Together for Denver’s Schools include numerous five-figure contributions, many from real estate and construction companies.

Forest City, developer of Stapleton, gave $50,000, as did Oakwood Homes.

Other large 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.

Among other large corporate donors were DaVita, the kidney dialysis firm at $25,000, the Benson Mineral Group, which gave $10,000, and the Gary-Williams Co., an energy firm that is the major funder of the Piton Foundation, which in turn is a significant contributor to education initiatives. It gave $25,000. Both of the latter donors have been active in past DPS ballot issues and board campaigns.

Four financial firms RBC Capital Markets, George K. Baum, Piper Jaffrey and Stifel Nicolaus gave contributions of $10,000 each.

The Colorado Education Association gave $7,000 while the Denver Classroom Teachers Association gave $6,000 in non-monetary support.

Arkansas resident Ben Walton of the Walmart family gave $25,000. Other large individual donors were oilman Ron Williams, who gave $10,000, and Bernadette Marquez, who donated $25,000. Marquez and her husband, Tim, have their own foundation and have been major donors to educational causes, including the Denver Scholarship Foundation. Tim Marquez is in the energy business.

Other individual donors of note include DPS board members Jeanne Kaplan at $500, Happy Haynes at $300 and Nate Easley at $200. Superintendent Tom Boasberg donated $1,000. Former board members Elaine Gantz Berman gave $1,000, Les Woodward donated $500 and Theresa Pena gave $100.

The committee spent $245,475 during the reporting period. Major expenses included about $100,000 to ShowPony, a Seattle advertising firm, and about $58,000 for printing. The committee also spent $29,000 with the Denver office of Strategies 360, a campaign consulting firm. The local office is headed by consultant Tyler Chaffee, who managed the 2007 campaign that led to passage of the $550 million Better Denver Bond program, which provides funding for city infrastructure projects.

The No on Denver 3B Bond committee had a handful of individual donors. The largest amount of money, $500, was given by DPS board member Arturo Jimenez, who has been actively campaigning against the bond but supports the operating increase.

Tennessee Votes 2018

Early voting begins Friday in Tennessee. Here’s where your candidates stand on education.

PHOTO: Creative Commons

Tennesseans begin voting on Friday in dozens of crucial elections that will culminate on Aug. 2.

Democrats and Republicans will decide who will be their party’s gubernatorial nominee. Those two individuals will face off in November to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Tennessee’s next governor will significantly shape public education, and voters have told pollsters that they are looking for an education-minded leader to follow Haslam.

In Memphis, voters will have a chance to influence schools in two elections, one for school board and the other for county commission, the top local funder for schools, which holds the purse strings for schools.

To help you make more informed decisions, Chalkbeat asked candidates in these four races critical questions about public education.

Here’s where Tennessee’s Democratic candidates for governor stand on education

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley hope to become the state’s first Democratic governor in eight years.

Tennessee’s Republican candidates for governor answer the big questions on education

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, businessman Randy Boyd, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, and businessman Bill Lee are campaigning to succeed fellow Republican Haslam as governor, but first they must defeat each other in the 2018 primary election.

Memphis school board candidates speak out on what they want to change

Fifteen people are vying for four seats on the Shelby County Schools board this year. That’s much higher stakes compared to two years ago when five seats were up for election with only one contested race.

Aspiring county leaders in charge of money for Memphis schools share their views

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners and county mayor are responsible for most school funding in Memphis. Chalkbeat sent a survey to candidates asking their thoughts on what that should look like.

Early voting runs Mondays through Saturdays until Saturday, July 28. Election Day is Thursday, Aug. 2.

full board

Adams 14 votes to appoint Sen. Dominick Moreno to fill board vacancy

State Sen. Dominick Moreno being sworn in Monday evening. (Photo by Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat)

A state senator will be the newest member of the Adams 14 school board.

Sen. Dominick Moreno, a graduate of the district, was appointed Monday night on a 3-to-1 vote to fill a vacancy on the district’s school board.

“He has always, since I have known him, cared about this community,” said board member David Rolla, who recalled knowing Moreno since grade school.

Moreno will continue to serve in his position in the state legislature.

The vacancy on the five-member board was created last month, when the then-president, Timio Archuleta, resigned with more than a year left on his term.

Colorado law says when a vacancy is created, school board must appoint a new board member to serve out the remainder of the term.

In this case, Moreno will serve until the next election for that seat in November 2019.

The five member board will see the continued rollout of the district’s improvement efforts as it tries to avoid further state intervention.

Prior to Monday’s vote, the board interviewed four candidates including Joseph Dreiling, a former board member; Angela Vizzi; Andrew LaCrue; and Moreno. One woman, Cynthia Meyers, withdrew her application just as her interview was to begin. Candidate, Vizzi, a district parent and member of the district’s accountability committee, told the board she didn’t think she had been a registered voter for the last 12 months, which would make her ineligible for the position.

The board provided each candidate with eight general questions — each board member picked two from a predetermined list — about the reason the candidates wanted to serve on the board and what they saw as their role with relation to the superintendent. Board members and the public were barred from asking other questions during the interviews.

Moreno said during his interview that he was not coming to the board to spy for the state Department of Education, which is evaluating whether or not the district is improving. Nor, he added, was he applying for the seat because the district needs rescuing.

“I’m here because I think I have something to contribute,” Moreno said. “I got a good education in college and I came home. Education is the single most important issue in my life.”

The 7,500-student district has struggled in the past year. The state required the district to make significant improvement in 2017-18, but Adams 14 appears to be falling short of expectations..

Many community members and parents have protested district initiatives this year, including cancelling parent-teacher conferences, (which will be restored by fall), and postponing the roll out of a biliteracy program for elementary school students.

Rolla, in nominating Moreno, said the board has been accused of not communicating well, and said he thought Moreno would help improve those relationships with the community.

Board member Harvest Thomas was the one vote against Moreno’s appointment. He did not discuss his reason for his vote.

If the state’s new ratings this fall fail to show sufficient academic progress, the State Board of Education may direct additional or different actions to turn the district around.