CASTLE ROCK - For years, a vocal group of parents has spoken out against the conservative reforms put forth by the Douglas County School Board. Now, this is their chance to win the majority of the board -- or lose out to a mandate of the people.
"Basically, we feel as parents we're being taken along for a ride that we didn't sign up for," Kristen Kidd, parent, said.
Kidd has two boys in Douglas County Schools in 5th grade and 8th grade. She is a parent first. But, she is also a writer taking part in a documentary called "The Reformers" which is aimed at criticizing the current Douglas County School Board and administration.
"It feels political and it feels very unnecessary," Kidd said. "They're not looking for public input. They're not looking for public buy in."
This week, mail-in ballots were sent to homes around Douglas County. Four school board seats are up which would mark the majority of the 7-member school board.
"So, this is crucial," Kidd said. "This is huge."
Jennifer Green also has two children, ages 8 and 12. She is a parent first. But, she is also a town council member for Castle Rock who believes the school district reforms are going in the right direction especially when it comes to school choice.
"How my children learn and how other children learn are not always the same," Green said. "I like that I have the option to choose the educational needs that are best suited for my children."
Green supports the efforts made the district in creating a school voucher program. Green wants the direction of the board to stay the same.
"Our district right now is on the leading edge of education reform. We are the ground zero of education," Green said. "Parents are watching. Students are watching."
School Board President John Carson is term limited, so his seat is in District B is up. Barbra Chase and Jim Geddes are vying for that spot. Julie Keim and Judi Reynolds are newcomers trying to win the District D seat which was occupied by an appointee after Dan Gerken resigned his spot citing family and work obligations.
Incumbent Doug Benevento is battling Bill Hodges for the District E spot. Ronda Scholting is fighting incumbent Meghann Silverthorn for the District F seat on the school board.
But, if you ask Green and Kidd, this is not really a race of one person versus another. Basically, all the candidates are slated together depending on what direction a voter wants the district to go.
Kidd says she likes the candidates who say they will work to be more collaborative with the public, find ways to release more money to classrooms, and bridge the gap between neighborhood and charter schools.
"I am voting for the four candidates who are new to the school board," Kidd said. "Chase, Scholting, Keim, and Hodges."
Green says she likes the candidates who are pro school choice, who support the teachers' pay for performance program, and who are against Amendment 66, the proposal raise income taxes for school funds.
"I will be voting for Geddes, Benevento, Silverthorn and Reynolds," Green said.
Over the past few years, Douglas County has been sued over starting a pilot program giving parents vouchers to send their kids to private schools. Parents have held rallies supporting teachers who they say are being treated unfairly especially after the school board dissolved the teachers union collective bargaining agreement.
Both Green and Kidd feel this election is about more than just Douglas County. It's about a nationwide campaign on school reform.
"People are keeping an eye on Colorado and seeing what we're doing," Green said. "Douglas County is leading the efforts."
"I feel like we're a battlefront," Kidd said. "Hopefully parents have the win here and parents maintain control."
The Douglas County Election is being done on mail-in ballots only. Voters should receive their ballots by October 18th.
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