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Denver teachers union endorses school board President Carrie Olson for reelection

Carrie Olson was elected president of the Denver school board on Dec. 4, 2019.
Denver school board President Carrie Olson is running for reelection this November.
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

The Denver teachers union endorsed its first candidate for the Denver school board Thursday when it renewed its support for current board President Carrie Olson, who was a teacher for 33 years.

The announcement was a departure from the Denver Classroom Teachers Association’s past practice. It came months earlier than in previous years, and the union only endorsed a candidate for one seat instead of for all four that are up for election.

In a press release, the union called the announcement “the first round of school board candidate endorsements.” Candidates have until August to file to run for the Denver school board, but by endorsing Olson now, the union can start spending money on her race.

Denver school board elections are often hotly contested, and campaign spending has skyrocketed in recent years. Spending in the 2019 election totaled $2.28 million.

Only one other candidate — Mike DeGuire — has filed to run for Olson’s seat, which represents east central Denver. DeGuire’s LinkedIn profile describes him as a former Denver Public Schools principal who then worked for the district as a coach for principals and now does the same work for a private consulting firm called Care School Consulting.

Olson was elected to the school board in 2017, defeating an incumbent who had outraised and outspent her during the campaign. She was named president in 2019. The teachers union also endorsed her in her first run for school board. She is one of five members on the seven-member board who were backed by the teachers union.

School board elections are held every two years. A small group of elected and appointed teachers union members known as the DCTA Fund decides who the union will endorse.

“The DCTA Fund is extremely confident in our decision to endorse Dr. Carrie Olson in her re-election to the DPS school board,” union President Rob Gould said in a statement, adding that “it is without question that Carrie is the right choice for DPS students.”

“As the acting DPS school board president, we have first handedly witnessed Dr. Olson’s collaboration with students, educators, families, and community members to do what’s best for our students no matter their ZIP code, race, or learning ability,” Gould said. “We are excited and hopeful that Dr. Olson will continue her work on the board and into this next chapter of DPS.”

Four seats on the seven-member school board are up for grabs in November. Whoever is elected will take the helm of a district recovering from two school years interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The board will oversee a new superintendent, Alex Marrero, who is set to start his job next month, and it will grapple with several long-simmering issues, including decreasing enrollment due to declining birth rates and rising housing prices.

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