AURORA | Campaign donations are pouring into Denver school board races, but so far, neighboring Aurora school board campaigns are operating on the cheap.

Three school board seats are up for grabs in Denver Public Schools, Aurora Public Schools and the Cherry Creek School District, but only the Denver race has attracted hefty cash. 

As of Sept. 30 state campaign finance reports, the four fundraising leaders in the DPS race have each raised approximately $70,000. Leader Tony Curcio has raked in about $75,000 to date, leading the pack.  There are 9 candidates vying for three seats in Denver.

In nearby Aurora Public Schools, however, the at-large race has attracted little funding. Stephanie Mason leads the pack with $2,000 raised as of a Sept. 30 report.

The Cherry Creek School District candidates are also raising little money. Only one of the three seats is competitive — District C — and only one of those candidates has reported any funds. To date, candidate Angela Garland has raised more than $1,600, while her opponent, Alioune Sogue, has not raised a single dollar. Neither have the two other candidates, Janice McDonald and Anne Egan, who are running unopposed. 

The Denver Public Schools district, the largest in the state, is routinely racked by policy disagreements over racial segregation, achievement gaps between racial groups, charter schools and what critics say is an inequitable education model. 

The school board is also a jumping-off point for political aspirations: Senatorial candidate Michael Bennet once served as the district superintendent, and former state Senator Lucia Guzman began her political career on the board. 

Three of the four leading DPS candidates have been boosted by $10,000 contributions from former University of Colorado President Bruce Benson. Those candidates are Alexis Menocal Harrigan, Diana Romero Campbell and Tony Curico. 

Other big donors include developer Oakwood Homes, which also runs an educational foundation. 

Denver District 1 candidate Scott Baldermann has also received an aggregate of $30,000 from OnBeat, a group fitness company. 

The school board elections are on Nov. 5. 

— GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer