|Board Member, Douglas County School District, District G|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 5, 2013|
|Director, Parker Fire Protection Board|
|5/15/2012 - present|
|Bachelor's||University of Nebraska-Lincoln|
|Profession||Public relations manager|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Elections
- 3 Campaign themes
- 4 What was at stake?
- 5 About the district
- 6 Recent news
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Scholting resides in Parker, Colorado with her husband and their two sons. Scholting graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Scholting spent much of her career as a television journalist and worked for Channel 7, and she later freelanced for national media outlets such as ABC, CBS, and CNN. As a journalist, she reported on an international adoption scandal, revealed fraudulent business practices by a national credit card company, and investigated defective automobiles, which helped lead to the passage of Kansas's Lemon Law.
Following her journalism career, she spent time as a communications consultant before being elected to the Parker Fire Protection Board and joining a Denver-based real estate company, RE/MAX, as a public relations manager. Scholting regularly works with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which supports children's hospitals, patients, and families, and the Sentinels Freedom Foundation, which supports wounded veterans and their families in their transition to civilian life. Scholting is affiliated with the Democratic party, but her candidacy is officially non-partisan.
|Douglas County School Board of Directors, Four-year term, District G, 2013|
|Nonpartisan||Meghann Silverthorn Incumbent||53.4%||53,648|
|Source: Douglas County Elections, "2013 Coordinated Election," November 21, 2013|
Scholting received an endorsement for her 2013 campaign from Progressive Majority, which listed her as one of the organization's preferred candidates. The local chapter of the AFL-CIO supports Scholting. Education activist Diane Ravitch's advocacy organization, the Network for Public Education, also endorsed Scholting's campaign.
Changing Direction in our Schools
"In Douglas County, our schools are slipping. The School Board voted to lower graduation requirements, decrease instructional time in the classroom, and our schools lost the Colorado Department of Education’s most distinguished accreditation. The School Board also approved a staggering salary of nearly $300,000 for the superintendent, one of the highest in the country. And the district gave top administrators huge bonuses and pay increases. At the same time, they are asking parents and community members for more and more. This is wrong and it’s time for change. It’s time for us to re-focus dollars in the classroom and on the level of education we deliver as a district."
"This is the single most important issue in our District. If our students aren’t achieving, our community will not grow and businesses will not thrive. We have to make sure all of our students, regardless of their abilities, or background, have access to a high-quality 21st century education.
The basic subjects of reading, writing and math, are the cornerstones to learning and the best course we have to prepare our graduates for college or the workforce. I will be an advocate for ensuring that our students have the best opportunity to achieve and grow."
" Parents and their students should have choices when it comes to public education. Douglas County’s outstanding charter schools have been, and will continue to be, cutting edge and innovative destinations for students who prefer a non-traditional setting. At the same time there are families that prefer our traditional neighborhood schools, the foundation of the District. We need to make sure those schools stay vibrant and continue to ground the Douglas County community"
Teachers and Principals
" The teachers and principals who have daily contact with each and every one of our students are the strongest influence on academic success. We need great teachers in every classroom and quality principals in every school. Those mentors need resources to give students the tools to achieve at the highest level. We need to focus our attention on what’s happening during the school day and how we can help teachers and principals help our students reach their goals."
Pay for Performance
" Like the employees who work in most every business and at every level of government, teachers and principals should be evaluated on a regular basis. The evaluations need to be fair and consistent and we need to have a clear idea of what it means to be “highly effective.” Expectations need to be set and met. The goal is hiring and retaining the best teachers and principals we can to ensure top tier student achievement."
Budget and Transparency
" Public schools run on public dollars. Taxpayer dollars that should be invested in creating excellent schools that graduate exceptional students. We need to know how our money is spent and why. We need to eliminate those programs that are not working and continue to fund those that are working. The District and the School Board must work as a partner with taxpayers. An important piece of this is ensuring the discussions about our schools and budget occur in public during regular board meetings."
Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.
What was at stake?
Four seats, including that of the board president, were at stake. John Carson, the incumbent in District B, was not running for re-election. Barbra Chase Burke and James Geddes were running for election to the seat. Carson, who was first elected to the board in 2005, was ineligible to run for another term because of Amendment 17 to the Colorado Constitution, which says that no "elected official of any...school district....shall serve more than two consecutive terms in office."
The District D race included newcomers Judi Reynolds and Julie Keim running for the seat currently held by Carrie Mendoza. Stephen Boyd announced that he would run in the District D race but withdrew before filing his nomination petition so that he would not "split the vote." Incumbent Doug Benevento faced challenger Bill Hodges in the District E race. Scholting filed with the Colorado Secretary of State to challenge for Meghann Silverthorn's seat in District G.
DougCo Parents Want Change
Alleged campaign violations
District D candidate Julie Keim filed a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State on October 17, 2013, alleging that the school district used resources to support its preferred school board candidates and to deny challengers information regarding the involvement of outside groups and individuals in the election. Keim requested copies of emails between district officials with supporters including Americans for Prosperity, the Independence Institute and campaign contributors like Alex Cranberg and Ralph Nagel. Texas businessman Alex Cranberg and investment banker Ralph Nagel co-founded the Alliance for Choice in Education to promote school choice and contributed approximately 89% of the $156,701.50 in campaign donations reported by Doug Benevento, James Geddes, Judi Reynolds and Meghann Silverthorn.
District administration conducted a search for the requested correspondence that turned up more than 13,000 e-mails, 101 of which Keim had received by October 23. She criticized administrators for the slow pace and claimed, "I think they’re trying to delay so nothing can be exposed before the election. [...]I want them to be open and honest and truly transparent about what is going on with all these organizations. It’s concerning to me so many people who are not local have such a voice in our future." School board Vice President Kevin Larsen responded to her allegations by labeling them "[...]a patently frivolous political stunt masquerading as a complaint." District legal counsel Rob Ross explained the delay by stating that each e-mail must be reviewed by district personnel for legally protected information before being disclosed.
Administrative Law Judge Hollyce Farrell ruled in December 2013 that the district violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act by using public funds to commission a report that promoted reform policies during the 2013 campaign. The district used $15,000 in public funds to pay Rick Hess, an education expert with the American Enterprise Institute, to write a report titled "The Most Interesting School District in America?" Farrell concluded that the report was an improper use of funds on behalf of incumbents seeking re-election. Farrell did not require a fine from the district, which plans to appeal the decision in higher court.
Audio editing controversy
In late September, Meghann Silverthorn accused Scholting of selectively editing a September 13 interview between Silverthorn and local radio host Mike Rosen. The interview featured a discussion of the motivations behind efforts to replace current board members in the 2013 election. Rosen stated, "These are nice, well-meaning, naive soccer moms who can’t distinguish between an individual teacher and the collective menace and intransigence of a teachers’ union with its political power" and Silverthorn agreed with the statement. Scholting's ad includes Rosen saying, "You’re up against mostly women. Nice, well-meaning, naive soccer moms," and audio of Silverthorn's agreement with Rosen. Scholting notes that her editing was comparable to techniques used by broadcast journalists while Silverthorn believes the ad does not truly represent her position on district policies.
Rally outside district offices
A September 27 demonstration outside of the district's administrative offices featured 200 attendees marching in support of local teachers. Demonstrators held signs that supported teachers and opposed the board's reform efforts over the past four years. According to interviews with the Denver Post, attendees argued that teachers were frustrated by limited instructional time, new evaluations and the district's attitude toward instructional staff. District officials have countered these claims by citing internal surveys with teachers that revealed high morale and greater flexibility in the classroom.
Involvement of community groups
Local groups ramped up efforts to support incumbents and challengers in the 2013 election. DougCo Champions for Kids is a non-profit that is also registered as a part of Texas-based firm C3 Solutions. This organization supported the reform efforts of the current board through direct mail and door-to-door campaigning. DougCo Champions for Kids received some funding from the Independence Institute, a Denver-based think tank that promotes free market principles. The C3 Solutions executive board features two officers who are affiliated with the institute. Another pro-board group is the Douglas County Education Alliance, which has been connected with an Arizona consultancy called DC-London founded by Republican adviser Sean Noble.
Challengers in the 2013 race were supported by a non-profit called the Strong Schools Coalition and a political action committee (PAC) called Douglas County Parents. Strong Schools Coalition received $4,000 in donations according to group president Lauren Mutton. The group stated that it is self-funded with contributions from Taxpayers for Public Education used for legal fees associated with a lawsuit against the district's voucher program.
Americans for Prosperity, "It's Working"
Board reform efforts
The board's reform efforts including a voucher program, dissolution of the teachers' union agreement and a pay-for-performance plan became the focus of attention in the 2013 campaign. Strong Schools Coalition led efforts to reverse some of these reforms and eliminate political involvement in board functions. The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity ran ads in the region starting in August supporting the board's reform efforts while admonishing critics.
Partisanship in board races
Though Colorado school boards are officially nonpartisan, Douglas County has drawn attention for the involvement of the local Republican Party in board elections. In the 2009 and 2011 elections, the Douglas County Republican Party endorsed the six current members and former member Dan Gerken. The party endorsed incumbents Doug Benevento and Meghann Silverthorn as well as challengers James Geddes and Judi Reynolds for the 2013 campaign. Former District G candidate Nicholas Land criticized the board as too loyal to the Republican Party and wanted the board to represent the entire community regardless of partisan affiliation. Former District D candidate Kevin Leung refused to interview with the Douglas County Republicans after starting his campaign. "I believe that local, nonpartisan school board elections should not be drawn into party politics. Decisions and agendas should not become strongly influenced by party ideologies instead of serving the people and the children in our schools," said Leung.
About the district
- See also: Douglas County School District, Colorado
Douglas County outperforms the rest of Colorado based on average household income, poverty rate and graduation rates in 2011. The average household income in Douglas County was $101,193 compared to $57,685 for the state of Colorado. The poverty rate in Douglas County was 3.5% compared to 12.5% for the entire state. The U.S. Census also found that 54.6% of Douglas County residents aged 25 years and older attained a bachelor's degree compared to a 36.3% in Colorado.
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- Colorado school districts
- Douglas County School District, Colorado
- Douglas County School District elections (2013)
- District page
- Campaign website
- Office website
- Facebook page
- LinkedIn page
- Colorado TRACER campaign finance page
- Follow the Money page
- LinkedIn, "Rhonda Scholting," accessed July 19, 2013
- OurLoneTreeNews.com, "Parker woman runs for school board," May 28, 2013
- Ronda Scholting for DougCo Schools, "About," accessed July 19, 2013
- Colorado TRACER, "Candidate Detail," Accessed December 20, 2013
- Progressive Majority, "Ronda Scholting," accessed July 19, 2013
- Colorado Observer, "Union-Backed School Board Candidate Called Out for Doctoring Audio," September 21, 2013
- NPE News Briefs, "NPE Endorses Ronda Scholting for Douglas County Colorado School Board," August 3, 2013
- Jane Reuter, OurParkerNews.com, "Candidate field changes as election draws closer," August 22, 2013
- Jane Reuter, OurParkerNews.com, "Candidate field changes as election draws closer," August 22, 2013
- Jane Reuter, OurHighlandsRanchNews.com, "Candidate alleges campaign violation," October 23, 2013
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- Zahira Torres, Denver Post, "Judge: Douglas County school district violated fair campaign laws," December 27, 2013
- Jane Reuter, Our Colorado News, "Radio show cut ignites candidate controversy," September 30, 2013
- Carlos Illescas, Denver Post, "More than 200 people rally against Douglas County school policies," September 27, 2013
- Jane Reuter, Our Colorado News, "Variety of groups joining school fray," September 25, 2013
- Jane Reuter, OurLoneTreeNews.com, "Petition decries politics in school elections," August 21, 2013
- Jane Reuter, OurLoneTreeNews.com, "School board election gearing up," July 8, 2013
- Jane Reuter, OurCastleRockNews.com, "Douglas County GOP hosts school board," January 19, 2013
- Jane Reuter, Highlands Ranch News, "Local Republicans endorse candidates," August 19, 2013
- Clayton Woullard, DenverPost.com, "Douglas County teen to run for school board," June 26, 2013
- Kevin Leung, EdNews Voices, "Voices: Declining a party endorsement in school board elections," July 25, 2013
- U.S. Census, "Douglas County Quick Facts, accessed July 16, 2013
- Colorado Secretary of State, “Voter Registration Numbers,” Accessed July 19, 2013