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Barbra Chase Burke

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Barbra Chase Burke
Barbra Chase Burke.jpg
Candidate for
Board Member, Douglas County School District, District B
Elections and appointments
Term limits2 Consecutive Terms
Bachelor'sIowa State University
ProfessionRegional Sales Manager
Campaign website
Ballotpedia's school board candidate survey
Barbra Chase Burke is a candidate for Douglas County School District Board of Education Director representing District B. She is running to succeed incumbent board president John Carson who is ineligible to seek reelection due to term limits.


Barbra Chase Burke attended Iowa State University where she studied marketing. Burke is a co-founder of Organization in-a-box, an organization that assisted in training several Douglas County School Parent Teacher Groups in 2011-2012. She is also the Regional Sales Manager for SumTotal Systems, Inc.. She is married to her husband Sean and the couple have two daughters. [1]

About the district

Douglas County School District is located in Douglas County, CO
Douglas County School District is located in Douglas County, Colorado. Douglas County is located between the cities of Denver and Colorado Springs. According to the 2010 US Census, Douglas County is home to 285,465 residents.[2] The county seat is Castle Rock, named after a notable nearby butte. The district lies on the Colorado Piedmont and features woodlands and mesas.


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.[3]

About Director District B

District B is one of seven single-member electoral districts located within Douglas County. It is the largest district geographically, covering the western half of the county.[4]


Advocacy groups

Parent group criticizes lack of transparency

The Strong Schools Coalition, a Douglas County parent group, criticized the school board for multiple transparency issues. Criticisms include: [5]

  • The district has stopped issuing Annual Reports and Quick Facts
  • Public input from surveys, forums, and comments are not valued
  • An open records requests about employee salaries has gone without a response, despite the fact that the information was released in 2010.
  • The Board has not responded to requests and letters urging greater transparency in government.
  • The amount of time that public meetings spend in sessions closed to the public has increased from 8 percent of the time 2009 to 49 percent in 2012.

Strong Schools parrots public unions

Colorado Media Trackers reported the Strong Schools Coalition and the Douglas County Federation of Teachers were using the same talking points in their messaging. The media group also said the two organizations worked together to distribute campaign materials.[6]

Douglas County Classrooms

The Douglas County teachers union launched a parent-teacher organization to inform other parents of the board of education’s activities and try to elect new members to the school board. A representative of the initiative told the Denver Post that Douglas County Classrooms was started in response to what she called the board’s political motivations toward reforming education, including the voucher program and severing ties with the teachers union.[7]

Rehire lawsuit filed

In February 2013, the Douglas County Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit against the school district saying the district did not fill new positions with teachers who had been laid off. More than 10 teachers were laid off and not rehired. Six of those teachers are named as plaintiffs.[8]

The union is receiving assistance from its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, in its dealings with the school board.[9]

Teacher pay plan

In October 2012, the district implemented a pilot teacher pay program based on performance and merit. The new system was funded with $4 million supported by a voter referendum. The pay system is based on assessments of performance, education and supply and demand.[10]

The new pay plan eliminates "knowledge-level advancement", where teachers receive raises for gaining education. District officials said teachers have to "prove the worth of that education through their performance."[11]

Email controversies

In September 2012, Media Trackers Colorado reported some district teachers and officials used email accounts provided by the county for political campaigning. [12]

Severing ties with teachers union

In September 2012, the school board unanimously voted to sever ties with the Douglas County Federation of Teachers, which represents the district's teachers. The district no longer collects union dues through paychecks nor grant paid release time to teachers who log hours conducting union business instead of teaching in the classroom.[13]

Severing ties with the union also meant an end to collective bargaining. The collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the district and the Douglas County Federation of Teachers expired in 2012.[14] Although the collective bargaining agreement expired in June 2012, the district agreed to provide teachers with a 1 percent pay raise for the 2012-2013 school year.[15]

Journalist ejected from board meeting

After ejecting a documentary filmmaker from a board meeting in August 2012, the board of education reversed a ban against him, after the American Civil Liberties Union intervened on his behalf. According to reports the filmmaker stepped outside an area cordoned off for media and refused to return to the area.[16]

School choice plan

In 2011, the Douglas County Board of Education unanimously approved the Choice Scholarship Program, a voucher program that provided the use of public funds to give students a chance to attend one of more than 20 private schools. Under the program, up to 500 students could receive $4,575 in state funds for tuition at private schools, including religious schools. Each will get 75 percent of the education money provided by the state to select a school, whether it is public or private. The remaining 25 percent of the funds stay with the Douglas County School District.[17] More than 200 students received voucher money from the county before the program was put on hold due to lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. Plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union, argued the program violated the state constitution's prohibition of using public funds to support religious schools.[18]

Court blocks plan

In August 2011, a district court judge in Denver issued a permanent injunction that halted the voucher program.[19] Judge Michael Martinez blocked the voucher program in August, saying it was a disservice to the public interest for taxpayers to pay tuition for religious schools. Martinez ruled the program violated the state's constitution and school-financing act.[20]

Appeal overturns injunction

In February 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that blocked Douglas County's Choice Scholarship Program. The court said the voucher program does not violate the state constitution. The court added local school districts are not prohibited "from providing educational opportunities in addition to and different from the thorough and uniform system."[21]

The case is likely to be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.[22]

District legal fees

The district's legal fees are being covered in part by The Daniels Fund, an organization that provides funding for needy and poor students to attend college. The fund is expected to pay up to $500,000 of the district's legal costs. [23]


  1. Barbra "About Barbra" Accessed August 30, 2013
  2. United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved on 8 July 2013. 
  3. U.S. Census, "Douglas County Quick Facts, Accessed July 16, 2013
  4. Douglas County School District, "Director Districts, Accessed July 22, 2013
  5. Strong Schools Coalition, "Transparency in DCSD," March, 2013
  6. Colorado Media Trackers, "'Parent Led' Strong Schools Coalition Broadcasts Union Talking Points," March 21, 2013
  7. Denver Post, "Douglas County group aims to counter board of education message," Dec. 19, 2012
  8. Denver Post, "Douglas County Teachers Union Sues District," February 15, 2013
  9. Education News Colorado, "AFT prez sees best, worst in DPS, Dougco," October 3, 2012
  10. Denver Post, "Douglas County starts new teacher pay plan," October 15, 2013
  11. Denver Post, "Douglas County starts new teacher pay plan," October 15, 2013
  12. Media Trackers Colorado, "Investigation unearths inappropriate emails sent from Douglas County Schools accounts," September 18, 2012
  13., "Dougco Board Bids Teachers Union Adieu, Moves On," September 7, 2012
  14. Denver Post, "Douglas County Teachers Union Sues District," February 15, 2013
  15. Douglas County Schools, "Pay Resolution," June 2012
  16. Education News Colorado, "Dougco lifts ban against ejected journalist," Aug. 15, 2012
  17. 9news, "Douglas County Schools votes for school choice voucher program," March 15, 2011
  18. Denver Post, "Court overturns block of school voucher program," February 28, 2013
  19. Denver Post, "Daniels Fund promises up to $530,000 in fight for Douglas County voucher program," August 30, 2011
  20. The Denver Channel, "Court overturns block of Douglas County Schools school voucher program," February 28, 2013
  21. Denver Post, "Court overturns block of school voucher program," February 28, 2013
  22. Denver Post, "Court overturns block of school voucher program," February 28, 2013
  23. Denver Post, "Daniels Fund promises up to $530,000 in fight for Douglas County voucher program," August 30, 2011