Four new Douglas County School Board directors were sworn in Tuesday night, effectively ending an era of controversial decisions and policies including a divisive school voucher program.
Newly appointed board President David Ray — a former district principal — struck a conciliatory tone Tuesday night, saying the new seven-member board needs to work with teachers and parents to solve funding woes in the district.
“My hope is that we can be hard on issues and easy on people,” Ray said. “I want to rekindle that notion that we are one, we are united as a district.”
The four new board members joined Ray and two other current board members who pushed back against a series of reforms introduced by a conservative Douglas board several years ago. The most notable was a “market-based” pay-for-performance evaluation of teacher and a voucher program that allowed Douglas County families to use tax dollars to attend participating private schools.
The voucher program has been tied up in the courts since it was introduced since 2011. It awaits a hearing before the state Supreme Court. The policies of the old, conservative board, which included the dissolution of a collective bargaining agreement with teachers, also led to several teachers leaving the district.
The newly sworn board members, who do not back vouchers, this month handily defeated a slate of four reform-minded candidates. The race drew lots of national attention as well as thousands of dollars of funding from conservative groups for the reform candidates and the American Federation of Teachers, who backed the new board members.
The new board members — Krista Holtzmann, Anthony Graziano, Kevin Leung and Chris Schor — were greeted with a standing ovation when they were sworn in.
The new board members mostly concerned themselves with house-keeping measures Tuesday night and didn’t take up the voucher program. The board can end the funding to defend the program in the courts but so far has not indicated when it may take on the issue.
Meanwhile, the district faces $300 million in estimated repairs and upgrades to its schools, say officials....Read more