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Denver professor wants you to pay attention to school board races

Denver professor wants you to pay attention to school board races

Issues from masks to property taxes to home values can be impacted by the ballot winners.

DENVER — On streets around the Front Range, yard signs remind passers-by that school board seats are up for election.

“Some of the most divisive issues are on the ballot essentially,” Dr. Nhu Nguyen-Siedem said.

She is a professor of education for Metropolitan State University of Denver. Nguyen-Siedem said school board elections are often ignored.

“Because most people don’t really understand that it does make an immediate impact,” Nguyen-Siedem said.

For example, right now in Douglas County, the school district is in a legal battle with the Douglas County Board of Health over the schools’ desire to have a mask mandate. Nguyen-Siedem said a newly elected board with a different philosophy can change that.

“Every candidate has a political affiliation even though school board members are non-party affiliated,” Nguyen-Siedem said.

She said that even though the elections are technically non-partisan, voters should take time to find out the ideology of each candidate.

“One of the primary reasons why people don’t vote is that it takes time to do your own research,” Nguyen-Siedem said.

In Jefferson County, the school board can determine teacher contracts and pay.

“School boards will oftentimes have union representation. The union will back certain candidates due to that,” Nguyen-Siedem said.

In Denver, the board can impact diversity and immigration issues.

“It’s really important for school board members and our policy to represent the people they’re supposed to represent,” Nguyen-Siedem said.

In Cherry Creek, the school board can raise or lower property taxes and influence home values.

“The impact with the community is very, very large whether you have immediate effect or children or grandchildren within your own district,” Nguyen-Siedem said.

Nguyen-Siedem believes voters should not ignore the signs.

“That’s really the impetus of why school board elections are so important right now and why people need to vote,” Nguyen-Siedem said.

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