Conservatives win big in school board elections; policy changes could follow
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Local school boards and district policies could face major changes following Tuesday's election. While a school board director is a non-partisan position, a deeper look at the elected candidates showed many received significant financial backing from an independent conservative committee.
Springs Opportunity Fund, registered to a Katie Kennedy, poured thousands of dollars into school board races across El Paso County.
Now, the new conservative-backed members could change some of the policies at schools that were put in place previously, such as mask mandates.
In Academy District 20, three of the five board positions were up for election.
As of Wednesday evening, Nicole Konz, Aaron Salt, and Thomas LaValley (re-elected) are all projected winners. They received and spent more money than any other D20 candidate. The trio received significant contributions from Springs Opportunity Fund.
Salt told KRDO he didn't know Kennedy but is thankful for her contributions.
"I have no idea where the money comes from," said Salt. "I appreciate the fact that they saw my values as something that they wanted for our community."
Salt had more contributions than any candidate, reporting $13,604.99. He told KRDO he isn't pleased with the way student quarantines have been handled on the county level and says he is in favor of parental choice when it comes to masks in school.
Currently, D20 has a mask requirement in place for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of location and grade affiliation. Salt says the new school board members want to revisit some of the policies.
"We know that mask usage increases mental health problems and issues," Salt claims. "That's not something that I'm willing to sacrifice."
According to Children's Hospital Colorado, there are "no valid reports or scientific studies linking masks to mental health problems in children or any other group."
However, superintendent Tom Gregory has the final say in the mask policy. Still, Salt doubled down on his desire to abolish the policy.
"I think Mr. Gregory is fully aware of where Nicole, myself, and Tom all stand on this issue."
Springs Opportunity Fund also donated money to three District 11 candidates who all won.
Salt doesn't believe those wins are coincidences but claims 'dark money' has been winning school board seats for a while.
"Teachers’ unions have been buying school board seats for decades, and nobody's raised an eyebrow," Salt said.
The new school board directors would take over at the end of the month.
Below is a look at the D20 school board candidates and the funds they received leading up to the election: