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A+ Denver surveys DPS board candidates

Want to know more about where nine people vying for a seat on the Denver school board stand on education issues?

DPS headquarters at 900 Grant St.

DPS headquarters at 900 Grant St.

A+ Denver, an advocacy group focused on improving student performance in Denver, on Thursday released survey results showing where the nine finalists stand on a range of education issues including teacher evaluation and recruitment strategies, whether teacher salaries should be made public, the role of charter schools and school choice and how best to address school finance.

A seat on the seven-member board opened up when Nate Easley announced his resignation last month to take over as head of the Denver Scholarship Foundation. Easley represented District 4 in Northeast Denver.

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Much attention is being paid to the vacancy since the board was typically split 4-3, with Easley joining the board majority in its support of district reforms, including the School Performance Framework, which is used to evaluate schools, and an openness to charter schools, colocation of schools on the same campus and school choice.

“The position being filled will be the swing vote on the DPS school board, which is why there are so many people jockeying for the seat,” A+ Denver CEO Van Schoales said. “The direction of the district – whether it continues to make progress or slides backward – could depend on this appointment.”

In most areas, seven of the nine candidates appeared to be aligned, according to A+ Denver. The most disagreement centered around the turnaround plans for Northeast Denver schools, whether teacher performance ratings should be public, how to determine teacher pay (based on performance or years in the classroom) and charter school funding.

Candidate Fred Franko was the only candidate who chose not to answer many of the questions. Retired DPS teacher Mary Sam also stood out from the other candidates with positions generally in opposition of the direction the district is headed.

But candidates came together on a few key issues. For instance, all responding candidates indicated they favor accountability measures requiring schools to demonstrate student growth; all but one said they support turnaround strategies, including the creation of new schools; and six said they supported a funding formula that would allow money to follow students.

The complete survey, along with each candidate’s bio, priorities and complete survey responses, can be found at www.aplusdenver.org. Or, see the results below. The key: 5 strongly agree; 4 agree; 3 neutral; 2 disagree; 1 strongly disagree.