Accomplishments of the School Board

Before election day comes and a new board is inaugurated, we look back at what the current board has done.

By Caleb Stuart

According to the Colorado Independent, Douglas County’s School Board race could be one of the most watched in the nation.  This is because of recent decisions made at the Supreme Court level and because all of the seats currently held by conservatives are up for election.

Currently, conservatives hold a 4-3 majority of the board.  However, this could change because all of the seats up for election belong to the conservatives on the board.  None of the incumbents will be running for reelection.  Three of them did not file the papers because they were not endorsed and the fourth is limited by term limits.

This means that there will be eight new candidates with eight new ideas for the direction of the school board.

Yet the election is still a couple of weeks away, which means that the current school board is still in control.  So, what exactly have they done?

The district has attempted to implement the voucher program.  The voucher program would take taxpayer dollars and help provide scholarships for students who are attending private school.  In 2015 the Colorado Supreme Court declared that this program was unconstitutional.  However, a new Federal Supreme Court decision has forced the Colorado Supreme Court to review their earlier decision.  If conservatives remain the majority on the board, it is likely that the legal battle for the voucher program will continue.  The decision from the Supreme Court said that churches could not be excluded from state grants aiming to better playground surfaces.

Recently, a student protested the teacher turnover rate in Douglas County.  The current board chair, Meghann Silverthorn, and the current vice-chair, Judith Reynolds, attempted to intimidate the student into canceling the protest.  Investigations were made and cleared the two board members.  According to the investigation, the the anti-bullying policy within the district applied to only the students and not to school board members.  The investigation cost the district $163,000.

Teachers are currently leaving the district because of the low pay that the board offers.  According to the 2016-2017 survey of teacher salaries, the pay in Douglas County is about $52,000 per year.  The pay in Cherry Creek School District, according to the same survey, is about $69,000 per year.  This is a difference of $17,000 per year or 28%.  One of the biggest reasons teachers a leaving the district is because of the low paid.

The upcoming school board election will be one of the most watched because of the things that are going on within the district.  Depending on who gets elected, the district may head in a very different direction than it is now.

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