NewsCovering Colorado


Colorado Springs Forward spent $130,000 on school board races in October

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Posted at 2:06 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 16:06:37-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — School Board elections are on the ballot this year, and the races in El Paso County have drawn big money, including a $130,000 dark money donation.

If you live in District 11, 20, or 49 you might have noticed a lot more digital advertising, mailers, and general election related material.

The reason for this increased activity is a major increase in funding for the races. In District 11, nearly four times the amount of money was raised by candidates than in the last cycle.

In 2017, candidates raised a little over $17,000. In 2021, the number sits at nearly $71,000.

District 20 saw a similar jump. In 2017, the school board candidates raised close to $29,000. This year, the total tops out at over $75,000.

District 49 did not hold an election in 2017 as there were not enough candidates.

Dwarfing any of the direct donations is a single donation made by a Colorado Springs political committee, Colorado Springs Forward.

On October 8, Colorado Springs Forward donated $130,000 to an organization called the Springs Opportunity Fund.

The Springs Opportunity Fund was founded on October 6, and Colorado Springs Forward is its sole donor, according to Colorado public records.

The Springs Opportunity Fund spent this money in support of candidates in each of these school board elections.

In D11, the organization spent the money on digital advertising and direct mail in support of Sandra Bankes, Lauren Nelson, and Al Loma.

The trio of candidates have been billed as conservative, with campaign materials citing they're "committed to keeping Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other extreme ideologies out of the classroom".

The Springs Opportunity Fund is also actively giving money to school board races for El Paso County School District 49 race and Academy School District 20.

Money for D20 is going to support candidates Nicole Konz, Aaron Salt, and Thomas LaValley.

All three of these candidates are campaigning on conservative platforms.

Konz, according to her website, believes that "fringe or "destructive" theories "such as critical race theory & DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), gender identity and study of sexuality has zero place in our public schools."

LaValley's website states that "the CRT worldview has no place in District 20," and that health decisions for children should be made by parents, not mandated.

Salt is against mandatory masks and vaccines, hiring an equity director, and CRT and other anti-american rhetoric/indoctrination.

In District 49, the money is funding advertising for Ivy Liu, Lori Ann Thompson, and Jamilynn May D'Avola.

All three are running on conservative platforms as well.

In 2021, Liu was one of the D49 board members who voted to ban CRT in D49 schools.

Thompson supports parental choice for schooling, and believes the "premise of CRT is wrong because it divides people based on racial makeup."

D'Avola is against Critical Race Theory, which her website calls a "Marxist ideology that divides students by oppressors and victims," LGBTQ+ curriculum or books in schools, and teachers' unions.

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