Oct 29, 2021 - News
Big money flows into school board races in Denver and elsewhere in Colorado
Mailers in the Denver school board race. Photo: John Frank/Axios
Political mailers in the Denver school board race. Photo: John Frank/Axios

The heightened attention on local school board contests means more spending by candidates and more money from outside special interests.

By the numbers: In 20 competitive districts across the state, candidates and committees are expected to spend at least $3.4 million, based on the latest reports.

  • For candidates, the $1.9 million in contributions is 55% more than in 2017, according to a Colorado Sun analysis. Another $1.5 million in spending came from independent political groups.
  • In Denver's four races, spending topped $1 million alone, according to Chalkbeat, our education reporting partner, but so far it remains below the $2.8 million high-water mark from the 2019 election.

State of play: The spending breaks down into two main camps: Teachers unions and their allies against reform-minded advocates and conservative groups.

  • In Denver and Aurora, education reform organizations are outspending the teachers union, but in Jefferson County it's the opposite, Chalkbeat reports.

The big spenders: The top individual spender in 10 competitive districts is Students Deserve Better, a teachers union committee, at $354,000, the Colorado Sun found.

Yes, but: A handful of education reform and pro-charter school groups — including Parents for Great Schools, the league of charter schools and Raising Colorado — are combining to spend more than $1 million.

Of note: A bill to limit individual contributions to school board candidates at $2,500 failed in the state Legislature, but it's expected to reemerge in the 2022 session.

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