Teacher unions, charter school activists spenders in Aurora area school board races

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AURORA | Groups backed by teachers unions and charter schools have made the biggest contributions to the Aurora and Cherry Creek school board races, according to campaign finance records.

In Aurora Public Schools, the organization Students Deserve Better has spent over $16,000 on mailings supporting candidates Debbie Gerkin, Tramaine Duncan and Michael Carter, the three candidates endorsed by the Aurora Education Association. It spent an equal amount on mailings opposing Christy Cummings and Danielle Tomwing.

Students Deserve Better is funded by teachers groups, and has received $20,000 from the Aurora Education Association, $7,000 from the Aurora Council for Teachers and Students and $257,000 from the Colorado Fund for Children and Public Education.

Raising Colorado has spent over $25,000 each on mailings supporting Anne Keke and Tomwing. The conservative education reform group Ready Colorado has spent $900 supporting Cummings, Tomwing and Keke.

Raising Colorado is funded by a group of state and national charter school advocates and other education reform groups: the Colorado League of Charter Schools, Education Reform Now, Parents for Great Schools and Ten Collective Impact. Tomwing also received $5,000 directly from the Colorado League of Charter Schools.

In Cherry Creek, Students Deserve Better has spent $9,900 on mailings supporting Kristin Allan and Kelly Bates and an equal amount on mailings opposing Jennifer Gibbons and Bill Leach. Allan and Bates are the two candidates endorsed by the Cherry Creek Education Association. Gibbons and Leach are running as a slate, and have been critical of the amount of involvement the teacher’s union has in the district.

Individual campaign contributions have also soared in an election cycle that has brought unprecedented attention to school board races. In Cherry Creek, Bates has received $63,000 in campaign contributions to date and Allan $50,000. Leach has received $16,000 and Gibbons $11,000, while candidate Jason Lester has $7,000 and Schumé Navarro just $2,000.

Keke has the largest war chest in Aurora, with just under $25,000 in contributions as of Friday. Tomwing has $15,000, Duncan $6,000, Gerkin $5,000, Carter $4,700 and Cummings $680.

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