4

School board races (and school reform, in general) sure are expensive

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

The final tally of money raised in last November's contentious Denver Public Schools school board election is in. And according to Education News Colorado reporter Nancy Mitchell, that tally is "jaw-dropping."

The three non-incumbent candidates who won seats on the seven-member board raised a total of $312,191. The bulk of that was collected by at-large candidate Mary Seawell, who pulled in $240,605. Of that, $144,350 came from a single donor -- local investor Thomas Gamel, who gave a total of $237,558 to three candidates. According to Mitchell, that's a record.

Throughout the race, Seawell billed herself as a reformer who supported charter schools. She won a board seat alongside two union-backed candidates -- Andrea Merida and Nate Easley, Jr. -- who were seen as more skeptical of charters. (Read more about the new board members' opinions on charter schools in the sidebar to this week's feature on the closing of P.S. 1 Charter School, "Three New DPS Boardmembers Talk Charters.")

Why do their opinions matter? Because "reform" (which in some cases includes charter schools) is a hot topic in education these days. And the more of it there is, the better Colorado's chances at winning $377 million in federal Race to the Top grant money -- funds made available to states for school reform by the Obama administration. Colorado sent its grant application to Washington today.

"Colorado has been racing to the top for years," Gov. Bill Ritter said at a news conference to announce the delivery of the application. "This proposal will accelerate our reforms of the last three years and give Colorado a blueprint for future reforms regardless of whether we secure a Race to the Top grant."

But the cash couldn't hurt. School reform, like school board races, is pricey.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.