Oct 22, 2021 - News

Meet the candidates: Denver school board

Top row, left to right: Karolina Villagrana, Gene Fashaw, Mike DeGuire. Bottom row, left to right: Michelle Quattlebaum, Jose Silva, Carrie Olson, Xóchitl “Sochi” Gaytán.

A majority of the Denver school board seats are at stake in the 2021 election — including three that represent neighborhood districts, Chalkbeat reports.

What's happening: The races cover a vast swath of the city — southwest's District 2, the southeast's District 3 and northeast's District 4.

  • Two are open seats, and one features an incumbent seeking another term.

Of note: The entire district will vote on the open at-large seat.

District 2

Xóchitl “Sochi” Gaytán, 46, real estate agent

  • She says her experience as an undocumented child in the district informs her perspective.
  • Wants to see COVID-19 vaccination clinics in schools, as well as a nurse and mental health professional in every school.
  • Expressed concern about "big box" charter schools and unaccountable innovation schools.

Karolina Villagrana, 33, educator

  • She is focused on declining enrollment and wants to see community input, but did not provide specifics on how to address the downturn.
  • Supports using money previously spent on law enforcement in schools for mental wellness.
  • Wants to mandate equity plans for Black students in every school.

District 3

Mike DeGuire, 76, former principal and teacher

  • Believes more infrastructure, such as air flow and ventilation, is needed to mitigate the coronavirus.
  • Supports spending federal pandemic relief dollars on mental and social needs of students and staff.
  • He says the current school choice system does not work and needs an overhaul.

Carrie Olson, 58, incumbent board member and adjunct professor

  • She says more needs to be done to address financial and staffing shortages at neighborhood schools.
  • Touted the current board's work to follow public health guidelines and upgrade equipment.
  • She supported removing police officers from schools.

District 4

Gene Fashaw, 37, math teacher

  • Believes the district's biggest concern is equity and more attention is needed on improving outcomes.
  • He says the key to improving student achievement is prioritizing their mental health.
  • Criticized the district for looking to armed security guards to replace police officers, saying more counselors are most needed.

Michelle Quattlebaum, 51, school community liaison

  • She says the district's top concern is recruiting and retaining non-white teachers.
  • Supports educational choice but wants to see more accountability in innovation schools.
  • Wants ongoing cultural competency training and certification for staff.

Jose Silva, 41, nonprofit leader

  • He says the budget is his top concern and pledged to lead a fiscal audit, saying the district spent millions "on frivolous partnerships."
  • Wants the district to partner with organizations like his, the Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health, to better focus on mental wellbeing.
  • Argues his expertise in diversity and inclusion will allow him to lead a re-evaluation of the districts equity policies.

Read more about the candidates from our partners at Chalkbeat


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