Comments in a county guide urging voters to kill ballot measures that would increase teacher pay and build new schools in Douglas County emanate from conservative talk radio host Kim Monson, while comments for the measures originate from Christa Gilstrap, a founder of Invest in DCSD, the political issue committee supporting the funding questions.
That’s according to the results of an open-records request filed by Colorado Community Media with the Douglas County School District.
Monson submitted comments against both Douglas County School District’s $60 million mill levy override and $450 million bond, encouraging voters to oppose the funding for financial reasons and concerns about curriculum.
“Alienated parents are a deeper challenge for the School District,” Monson's comments in the voter guide, known as the TABOR book, state. “While DCSD has many amazing teachers, parents are concerned about ‘woke’ ideology indoctrination in the curriculum.”
A warning in the book tells voters that for-and-against comments are published in the book without checking them for veracity.
Monson said she submitted the comments because property tax increases make housing harder to afford.
“I am deeply concerned about the tax burden of everyday, hardworking Coloradans and all Douglas County citizens,” Monson told CCM in an email.
DCSD provided the comments to CCM because the school board’s secretary is the designated election official.
About a week ago, school board officials reacted to the language about the funding measures in the TABOR book. Douglas County School District Superintendent Erin Kane refuted the claims, including the idea that the school is pushing “woke ideology."
The board did not know Monson was behind the comments in the TABOR guide at the time of Kane's remarks. The comments in the guide are published without attribution.
CCM's open-records request also revealed there were no other comments opposing the measure but Monson’s.
Open records also highlighted Gilstrap with Invest in DCSD provided the proponent's view of the ballot measures.
Gilstrap said she based her comments on information from the school district and believes her comments are factual. Gilstrap also said she had other members of Invest in DCSD look at the comments before they were submitted.
"I wrote the comments because I want (the funding questions) to pass," she said.
Gilstrap disagreed, saying that as a voter she uses the county TABOR book and state blue book as a primary information source when voting. She said she supported a fact-checking process in the future.
"There should probably be an independent way to make sure the information is at least factual," Gilstrap said.
All of the comments for the district’s funding questions were published as they were submitted, according to the records.
Unvetted comments in TABOR books are not limited to Douglas County. Alton Dillard, a spokesperson for Denver’s Clerk and Recorder’s Office, said election officials are restricted when it comes to changing submitted comments.
“We are unable to opine on the veracity of the submitted comments and can only remove language deemed to be profane, an endorsement, or that mentions private parties,” he said via email.
Monson wasn’t surprised the district disagreed with her comments. Her view is that “DCSD is trying to sell the voters on higher property taxes.”
She added that she doesn’t think the process for submitting comments to the TABOR book should change. Both sides, she said, have an opportunity to persuade voters.
“Those for the property tax increase make their case to the voters of Douglas County,” she said. “Those against the property tax increase make their case to the voters of Douglas County. The voters can then make an informed vote instead of a one-sided influenced vote.”