Adding it Up

Happy Haynes raised and spent big money in final days of Denver school board campaign

Allegra "Happy" Haynes with Mayor Michael Hancock earlier this year. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Last-minute donations continued to flood the campaign coffers of Allegra “Happy” Haynes up until Election Day, when the incumbent Denver Public Schools board member narrowly defeated an upstart challenger by just over 900 votes, the latest campaign finance reports show.

While contributions to other DPS candidates slowed to a trickle in the week before the election, Haynes continued an eleventh-hour push to fend off opponent Robert Speth, a relative unknown who entered the at-large school board race late but proved to be a formidable contender.

Haynes, a well-known Denver political figure and head of the city’s parks and recreation department, raised $32,325 between Oct. 26 and the election on Nov. 3. Speth, a father of two who works in the telecommunications industry, raised just $4,485 during that period.

In total, over the course of the campaign, Haynes raised nearly twice as much as Speth.

Haynes’s campaign benefitted from sizable contributions made by notable donors. Billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who oversaw more than a decade of aggressive school reforms in New York, donated $5,000 on Oct. 29.

Billionaire Fort Collins heiress Pat Stryker gave $5,000 on Oct. 28. The biggest donation came from David Scanavino, a doctor and healthcare executive who is a founding board member of University Prep charter school in Denver. Scanavino gave $8,000 on Oct. 27.

Follow the Money
See all donations to the six DPS board candidates here.

Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 28 — the time period covered in the candidates’ final fundraising and spending reports, which were due Thursday — Haynes also spent far more money than Speth.

Haynes’ spending totaled $54,845 and included $13,365 for robocalls, $9,523 for mailers and $2,000 for a fundraising consultant. Speth spent $10,802, mostly on a mailer and digital ads.

Haynes’ last-minute campaigning may have made a difference. Thirty-six percent of the 124,117 ballots cast were cast on Election Day, according to the Denver Elections Division.

The candidates weren’t the only ones who raised and spent money in the election, however. Committees and organizations not officially affiliated with the candidates spent a substantial amount as well, but that money is more difficult — and in some cases impossible — to track.

In all, six candidates were running for three seats on the seven-member DPS school board. Here’s a look at their fundraising and spending:

Lisa Flores (District 5) — Raised $116,719 for the whole campaign. Spent $116,544.

Michael Kiley (District 5) — Raised $112,104. Spent $104,277.

Throughout the campaign, Flores benefitted from a vast network of small donors as well as from large donations made by national and local backers of DPS’s brand of education reform, which includes cultivating a mix of charter and traditional schools and closing schools with consistently low performance. Flores, a former senior program officer with the Denver-based Gates Family Foundation, largely supports the direction of the school district.

Kiley, meanwhile, was critical of the district’s strategies and campaigned on a promise to seek a new vision for DPS — one that involved traditional schools with plenty of extracurricular activities, “professional teachers” and set boundaries instead of lotteries for getting in. He was endorsed by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and he received 75 percent of his campaign funding — $84,000 — from the union’s small donor committee.

On Election Day, Flores bested Kiley with 53 percent of the vote.

Anne Rowe (District 1) — Raised $26,212 and had $15,913 on hand from her last campaign in 2011 (Rowe was an incumbent) for a total of $42,125. Spent $34,502.

Kristi Butkovich (District 1) — Raised $30,299, plus $3,300 in loans, for a total of $33,599. Spent $33,496.

Rowe, who was elected president of the DPS board on Tuesday, also strongly supports the direction of the district. She too received donations from reform proponents.

Butkovich was endorsed by the DCTA. The union’s small donor committee contributed $21,500 to her campaign, which represented more than 60 percent of her total fundraising.

Rowe won with 62 percent of the vote.

Allegra “Happy” Haynes (At Large) — Raised $120,725 and had $2,804 on hand from 2011 (Haynes was also an incumbent) for a total of $123,529. Spent $122,464.

Robert Speth (At Large) — Raised $66,881. Spent $66,711.

A similar narrative played out in the at-large race. Whereas Haynes was backed by the reformers, Speth was endorsed by the DCTA and received $40,000 from the union’s small donor committee, which represented 60 percent of the total amount of money he raised.

The difference in the at-large race was the timing of the fundraising. Most candidates, including Speth, raised the majority of their money before October. Haynes, however, raised 86 percent of her money between Oct. 9 and Election Day, as Speth’s campaign gained steam.

In the end, Haynes won with 50.4 percent of the vote.

The total amount of money raised by all six candidates this year was $476,240. That’s far less than was raised by the nine candidates vying for four open seats in the last DPS board election in 2013. That year, the candidates raised a combined total of $817,509.

In 2011, when nine candidates, including Haynes and Rowe, competed for three seats on the board, the overall fundraising total was $845,556.

The reporting deadlines for committees and organizations are different than the deadlines for candidates. The last report the groups were required to file covered spending through the end of September. The next filing deadline is in mid-January, which means that their spending in the crucial last month of the campaign will be a mystery until then.

Raising Colorado, a committee affiliated with Democrats for Education Reform, spent about $90,000 in support of Flores and Rowe through the end of September. All of the money raised by the committee at that point came from a group called Education Reform Now Advocacy.

New York-based Education Reform Now is a so-called C4 group. Those types of groups don’t have to publicly report their contributions or spending as long as their ads don’t explicitly direct voters to vote for or against a candidate.

Editor’s note: Chalkbeat Colorado receives financial support from the Gates Family Foundation.

DPS board president Anne Rowe is married to Frank Rowe, Chalkbeat’s director of sponsorships. Frank Rowe’s position is not part of Chalkbeat’s news operation.

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.