Well over a quarter of a million dollars has been raised by the campaign to pass an increase in the sales tax that supports Denver Preschool Program scholarships.
The $277,900 dwarfs the amounts raised by even the largest-contribution campaigns for school district tax increases – see this Chalkbeat Colorado story for details on those efforts.
The Denver campaign war chest also is reminiscent of the hefty amounts donated in recent elections to pro-administration Denver Public Schools board candidates and to the effort to pass a DPS bond issue in 2010.
The list of donors to Preschool Matters also includes a lot of familiar names – corporate, philanthropic and individual – from those prior donation lists and from a variety of education reform initiatives.
For instance, the Gary Community Investment Co. kicked in $100,000 to pass the proposal, which is measure 2A on Denver ballots. (See the chart to the right and below for a full list of donors who’ve given $5,000 or more to the effort.)
The campaign’s income is expected to grow. A fundraiser was held Wednesday evening at Denver’s latest hot public space, the Great Hall at Union Station. Suggested contributions ran from $100 for a “guest” to $5,000 for a “host.”
The amount raised by Preschool Matters is a fraction of the $1 million raised – and $992,355 spent – in 2006, when the tax was approved on the third try. For all that campaign effort, the measure passed with only 50.6 percent of the vote.The campaign so far has spent $136,822, primarily on mailers and online ads, according to Lynea Hansen of Strategies 360, the political consulting firm that has handling the campaign and that has received the bulk of committee spending.
This year’s 2A proposes to increase and extend the sales tax that funds tuition credits for families participating in the program. The measure would increase the tax from .12 to .15 percent and extend it until 2026.
Since 2007, the program has provided about $55 million in tuition credits to 31,816 four-year-olds. The credit is determined by family need and the quality of the preschool provider. The average tuition credit during the 2013-14 school year was $290. The program also conducts quality reviews and professional development for its partnered-preschool providers.