Roundup of this week's letters to the editor on the Douglas County School Board races

Posted 10/19/17

Vote for choice

Every family has a worldview as does every teacher. One's worldview is the basis for one's answers to the ultimate questions: "Where did I come from?" "Why am I here?" and "What is …

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Roundup of this week's letters to the editor on the Douglas County School Board races


Vote for choice

Every family has a worldview as does every teacher. One's worldview is the basis for one's answers to the ultimate questions: "Where did I come from?" "Why am I here?" and "What is my purpose?" Intentionally or unintentionally, worldviews are taught in schools.

We have been in Parker for 32 years; we raised our four children here. We chose to educate them using a charter school, home school, neighborhood schools and a private school. We shaped each child's education according to his individual needs, strengths, passions and goals, factoring in our family resources and our worldview.

Our having these choices as their parents, the people who knew them best, loved them most and were most committed to their well-being, was integral to our kids' success. Out of our choices came a dental lab tech, two with master's degrees and another with a full ride from CU Denver for his doctorate.

Having limited school choices stifles families' creativity, quenches fascination with learning for many kids, denies expression of their passions and forces families to submit their children to schools with worldviews opposed to their own. What other areas of our children's lives do we allow the government to control - their housing, their doctor, their diet? Of course not, because we, their parents, are most invested in them and we know them best. Neither should the state decide what and how our children learn. We have four stellar people running for our Douglas County School Board who understand and support parental choice in education: Debora Scheffel, Grant Nelson, Randy Mills and Ryan Abresch. We shall be privileged to vote for them.

Al and Brenda Bollwerk

Let's move district forward

A decision voters will make in the upcoming election is selecting four members for the DSCD Board. As former DCSD school principals, we are endorsing candidates Graziano, Holtzmann, Leung and Schor. The future of the students in our community depends upon board leaders who understand and support policies needed in a complex and changing world.

These candidates support the recruitment and retention of great teachers. They realize that the current "pay for performance" system does not work, resulting in a widening gap for pay between neighboring districts and DCSD. Additionally, teacher turnover has doubled since 2009. These candidates realize that paying teachers is complex and are committed to engaging in conversation leading to a pay system that fairly compensates teachers.

These candidates believe parents should make decisions regarding educating their children. They support public charter and neighborhood school choices and understand that in a time of limited resources, decisions to divert funding from charter and neighborhood schools will imperil the future success of all schools. Choice is important and that includes judiciously allowing for the expansion of charter schools while maintaining the excellent system of neighborhood schools.

These candidates know they will need to bring a spirit of healthy cooperation and collaboration to their roles. The past eight years the board has created tension and acrimony amongst members of the community and destroyed the climate and culture of a once highly-functioning school district. A lack of transparency has led to declining trust in the community. The candidates believe that leadership at the top sets the tone for community and educator trust.

It is essential for a thriving and strong community to have an educational system that successfully educates all students. A vote for Graziano, Holtzmann, Lueng, and Schor will help our district move forward.

James Calhoun,

Jerry Goings

Retired DCSD principals

Don't let them fool you

The upcoming election for four new Douglas County School Board members is not about the performance and educational results delivered by Douglas County schools. It's about the conflict between national special interests and local control by our parents, teachers and school administrators. 

When you see the words "national special interests," think national unions and the Washington, D.C. "swamp." These interests lost control of the DC School Board and school system several years ago. As a result, the district is currently operating without a bargaining agreement. This is anathema to Washington, D.C. In the last board election, outside national interests successfully invested heavily to elect three of the seven current board members.

Nowhere is the conflict more apparent than in the monthly school board meetings.

These meetings are rancorous, inefficient and dysfunctional. If it were not for the professionalism, talent and wisdom of the interim School Superintendent, Erin Kane, we would have a disaster on our hands.

The "Elevate Douglas County" candidates: Randy Mills, Ryan Abresch, Debora Scheffel, and Grant Nelson are committed to "elevate" the school board and district. They want to represent local interests and preferences of our students, our teachers and our parents. They are all capable and talented. 

All four of these candidates must be elected to maintain local interest control.

Sadly, a smear campaign of false allegations and untruths is being waged against the current school administration and personnel. The campaign is designed to make you think the election is about poor educational results and terrible administrators. This is a familiar tactic of the Washington "swamp." Smear the opposition with untruths and misrepresent what the special interest candidates really intend to do, once elected.

Don't be fooled.

Frederick Mitchell
Castle Rock

Time to reverse the reforms

We are former Douglas County Board of Education directors who served our school district prior to 2009. We represent 91 years of public service in public education.

In 2009, 2011 and 2013, slates of "reformers" were elected or appointed to our school board resulting in unanimous reform boards. In 2015, reformers maintained a four-seat majority.

The priorities, practices and policies over the last eight years of reform boards represent a sharp break with those of previous boards. Examples include: Partisan school board candidate campaigns. Budgets that prioritize expensive IT initiatives, the PR department, and bonuses to administrators over funding schools. No plan for addressing $312 million in capital needs. Governance that ignores public comment, the advice of teachers and the counsel of citizen accountability committees

Here are the results: Reduced academic achievement. Massive teacher and principal turnover. Eleven schools on Colorado Department of Education "improvement plans." Loss of Accreditation With Distinction. Widespread distrust of the school board.

Douglas County School District's reputation as a destination district where families, students, teachers and businesses moved to because of its public schools has seriously eroded over the last eight years.

We encourage voters in the 2017 Douglas County School Board election to vote for candidates who will embrace the legacy of priorities, practices and policies that built our once great district. Nonpartisan elections, budgets that put students and classrooms first, and governance that values the counsel of parents, teachers and citizens are essential to the future of Douglas County schools.

This is a crucial election for public education in Douglas County, and we urge you to vote for Graziano, Holtzmann, Leung and Schor.

Herman Anderson, Ken Buckius, Bob Clearwater, Sue Fink, Emily Hansen, Pieter Kallemeyn, Jacqueline Killian, Clare Leonard, Gail Schoettler, Joan Sjostrom, Kristine Turner, Kathie Zahorik

We need to build trust

In fiscally conservative Douglas County, only Republican candidates Randy Mills, Ryan Abresch, Deb Scheffel and Grant Nelson recognize the need to first dedicate themselves to earning community confidence, before asking for a mill levy overide (MLO). Seventy percent of voters do not have students in schools. How do they win them over?

Continuity in district leadership is key to rebuilding trust and retaining Interim Superintendent Kane is essential. While opposition candidates have said they would "interview" her, Randy, Ryan, Deb and Grant confirmed they would make her permanent.

Should the opposition win, Directors Ray and Lemieux gain control of the DCSD School Board. One has to ask, would Erin Kane stay with them? Look no further than her performance evaluation. While five directors showed consistency in rating Interim Superintendent Kane between 3.5 and 4.0, Lemieux's overall rating for her was 2.25, and Ray's was 2.45. Clearly, there is a negative prejudice. Losing Erin Kane equals losing MLO.

Secondly, look no further than more liberal Jefferson County.They crow proudly about their recall of school board members, leaving their board politically one-sided. That is exactly what electing the "Dream Team" would do to DCSD.

Yet, JeffCo conveniently leaves out the fact voters turned down their MLO last November. Their result shows a politically unbalanced, unrepresentative school board, leaves an MLO vote destined to fail.

Vote for the candidates with a plan on how to engender trust in the community. Only four candidates understand continuity in DCSD leadership will lead to the funding our public schools require. Randy Mills, Ryan Abresch, Deb Scheffel, and Grant Nelson are THE choice.

Steve Buretz

Castle Pines

Your vote matters

Why should you vote in the DCSD school board election if you don't have children in any of the schools?

PROPERTY VALUES: According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, home values increase $20 for every $1 spent on public schools (Source:  "Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending"). Adequately funded schools create higher property values for all residents. found that 91 percent of buyers consider school ratings when looking for a home, and 1 out of 3 buyers would be willing to settle for a smaller home to live near a well-rated school (Source:  "How Much Do School Districts Affect Real Estate Prices?"). Homes near schools with a rating of 4 or 5 stars were almost completely insulated from declining values, while those near schools with 1-3 stars were much more likely to experience a decline in value, according to data reported by

OUR FUTURE: Our schools are educating the future leaders of our community. A well-educated workforce will bring future economic opportunity to Douglas County when these students grow up to become business owners and county officials. We are educating future voters who will make decisions that affect our lives.

LOCAL PRIDE: We are a community. With over 68,000 students in our school district, we have a duty to advocate for their best interests. We want a positive return on our taxpayer investment.

Vote for Graziano, Holtzmann, Leung and Schor. They support our public schools, and they value our commUNITY.

Margo Nyiro


Make the best choice

In the Q&A with DCSD Board candidates published last week, candidates were asked about their support for taxpayer-funded vouchers for students to attend private schools. This issue has been tied up in the courts for years, and has turned Douglas County into a political battleground for what has become a national issue.

The lines are clear: Community candidates are against vouchers. Elevate candidates favor letting the court process continue.

Many private schools have been known to discriminate against families of minority faith traditions as well as non-believers. They are not held accountable to our shared values of fair and equal treatment for all.

For many families, this voucher system is not a real choice.

Community candidates Graziano, Holtzmann, Leung and Schor understand the importance of a quality public education. Please join me in voting for them this November.

Mike Smith

Highlands Ranch

Time to move on

Milton Friedman taught at the University of Chicago when I earned my BA and MBA there. Friedman wrote: "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."

The results of the "Reform/Elevate" experiment with Douglas County schools are clear. We have opened some new charter schools. But the district and county as a whole have been badly hurt. Teachers have left in droves. We can't adequately compete for new teachers. Our scores have fallen.

  • Now the market has spoken, rewarding property values much more in neighboring districts than in Douglas County.
  • The intention of the elevate reformer backers was to reform education in America. The result has been to damage the school system and likely hindered the rise of property valuesin Douglas County.

It is time to move on.    

Tom Yondorf

Castle Rock


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