Denver Public Schools

As of Wednesday morning, four candidates leading their races in the Denver school board were backed by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

In an election that saw low turnout, Denver voters chose Carrie Olson and Scott Esserman to help lead the state’s largest school district. Esserman was the first to voice his victory over Twitter just after 9 p.m.

Esserman is a parent and former schoolteacher in public and private schools in Colorado. Olson, from District 3, was the only incumbent running, first elected in 2017 and then becoming president in 2019. Quattlebaum, from District 4, has three children who graduated from George Washington High School where she has worked as the family and community liaison. She’ll have to quit that job now that she’s on the board due to conflict of interest.

As of 11:30 pm, the District 2 race between Xochitl “Sochi” Gaytan and Karolina Villagrana was separated by 64 votes.

Contacted by the Gazette, Gatan said she is confident that she will win a seat on the board. "When I win this will be historic not for myself and the other three but for students across the district. They're needing community candidates to make change in DPS for quality learning environments," she told The Gazette.
 
As of 8:30 am, Villagrana had not conceded the race. 

Key issues for the state’s largest school district include whether to consolidate and close schools with low enrollment, improving education for Black and Hispanic students, school safety, coronavirus relief money and hashing out the continuing disagreement over the role of autonomous charter and innovation schools. The board will also oversee a new superintendent.

The night was a loss for supporters of education reform who say the board supported by the union doesn’t concentrate enough on academics, especially during the pandemic.

The board has seven directors who are elected to four-year staggered terms. This election, one at-large seat and three regional seats were up for grabs. All Denver voters can vote for the at-large seats, but only residents within a region can vote for the regional seats.

Denver Public Schools has 200 schools and serves 90,000 students. State campaign finance reports show that more than a million dollars was funneled into this year’s school board election.

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