The only Denver school board member eligible to run for re-election this year said Wednesday she does not plan to seek a second term. Lisa Flores will serve out the remainder of her four-year term representing northwest Denver, but will step down after the election in November.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to represent District 5,” she said, reading from a prepared statement. “And it is a commitment I don’t take lightly. I believe a precursor to running for an elected seat is the ability to commit to a minimum of four years of service. Given realities on the homefront, I don’t find it possible to make a second four-year commitment at this time.”
Flores added that she and her family are healthy, and that her increased responsibilities at home are positive ones related to her husband’s work.
Flores’s decision means none of Denver’s three school board races will feature an incumbent. The other two seats up for election in November are currently held by board President Anne Rowe and board member Happy Haynes, both of whom are barred by term limits from running again. Board members are allowed to serve a maximum of two four-year terms.
Flores represents District 5, which includes the neighborhoods of Elyria-Swansea, La Alma-Lincoln Park, West Colfax, and Highland — and schools such as North High School, Bruce Randolph School, and the Denver Center for International Studies.
Thus far, two candidates have announced they’re running for the District 5 seat: Julie Bañuelos, a former Denver teacher, and Brad Laurvick, a Methodist pastor and father of a first-grader.
Flores was elected in 2015 by a healthy margin. In her nearly four years on the board, she has championed several initiatives, including a task force that made recommendations for how to improve special education for students with disabilities.
As board treasurer, she often uses her platform to speak about the need for more state education funding. Last year, she spearheaded a softening of the district’s strict school closure guidelines, advocating for struggling schools to submit improvement plans instead. Flores also pushed the district to form a committee to study the impacts of gentrification on Denver schools. That committee made several recommendations, some of which are being consolidated into a “unified equity plan” under new Superintendent Susana Cordova.
Many of the neighborhoods Flores represents have been particularly hard hit by gentrification. Rising housing prices, coupled with lower birth rates, have led to declines in the student population, which could signal that hard conversations about school consolidation are coming. That’s an issue whoever wins the District 5 seat will have to tackle.