Americans for Prosperity, after Dougco school board losses, spending $100K ahead of crucial voucher vote

Saturday, 02 December 2017, 03:37:05 AM. Americans for Prosperity is launching a digital and social media campaign to warn Douglas County parents of a special Douglas school board meeting Monday called to end the district’s controve…

Americans for Prosperity is launching a digital and social media campaign to warn parents of a special Douglas County School Board meeting Monday called to end the district’s controversial school voucher program.

The conservative group, backed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, says it will begin a “five-figure accountability push” in Douglas County supporting the voucher program.

“AFP will be doing digital and social media advertising to make people aware of the likelihood that this educational opportunity will be voted down, and how that limits choice and opportunities for families and kids,” said Jesse Mallory, state director for Americans for Prosperity.

Four candidates opposed to the voucher program were elected by wide margins in November, defeating a slate of candidates who backed vouchers.

The campaign attracted national attention and donors, including Americans for Prosperity, and the American Federation of Teachers, which backed the anti-voucher candidates.

Mallory said there remain questions about who exactly backs school choice and vouchers on the seven-member board.  “With over 70 percent of Coloradans’ favoring choice — and the confusion over the use of the word ‘choice’ during the school board race — families deserve a right to know this board’s presumed intentions.”

Board member Wendy Vogel, a voucher critic, said the special meeting was called to “specifically take action” on the voucher program. “I don’t know for sure how the meeting will go, but I do know my position (on vouchers) and I know what the four board members campaigned on,” she said.

If the board votes down the voucher plan, Americans for Prosperity will continue to educate Douglas County families about vouchers, Mallory said.

Notice of a special board meeting is posted on the Douglas County School Board website, however there is no public agenda attached. A district spokesperson said the meeting is planned to discuss and possibly vote on the voucher plan. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the school district’s administration building, 620 Wilcox St., in Castle Rock.

The voucher program started in March 2011, by a more conservative, reform-minded board. It would allow Douglas County students who have resided in the county and attended a Douglas County public school for one year, a $5,000 voucher to pay for tuition at a private school

The private school could be secular or religious and does not have to be located in Douglas County, the fifth wealthiest county in the nation.

The program has been tied up in the courts since its inception and is currently before the Colorado Supreme Court. A filing from the Douglas County district, which is a defendant in the case, is due Dec. 18.

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