Voters in the Cherry Creek School District are choosing two directors for the Board of Education in the election that ends Nov. 2. Ballots go out starting Oct. 8.
The school board members represent different parts of the school district but they are elected “at large” by all district residents.
This is one of a series of profiles of candidates in board District E, which includes central and east Centennial as well as parts of Greenwood Village, Aurora and unincorporated Arapahoe County.
When her daughter was in kindergarten, Kristin Allan volunteered in her classroom to listen to kids read. But as other students made progress, Allan's daughter wasn't having “those lightbulb moments,” Allan said.
Allan's family searched for solutions for three years, ultimately having to go outside the Cherry Creek School District to find the right resources. She found that her daughter had disabilities that impaired her learning — and, because it took so long to find a diagnosis, she also struggled with learning anxiety, Allan said.
But Allan wondered: “What about all the kids whose parents don't know what questions to ask — whose parents are afraid to ask them? Whose parents don't have the financial means and time to navigate this maze?
“My daughter's doing great, and I'm glad we were able to provide her with these things, but the reality is that that's not most people's reality,” Allan said.
Allan wants to expand the district's “excellence to children who are not seen in classrooms (and) not heard in classrooms” because of their demographics, such as their sexuality or other parts of their background, Allan said.
“So they become global citizens and hopefully one day come back to Cherry Creek,” Allan added.
She's running to represent Creek school board District E, the area that encompasses parts of Greenwood Village, unincorporated Arapahoe County, central and east Centennial, and south and southeast Aurora. Her opponents are Bill Leach and Jason Lester. The election ends Nov. 2.
The school board is the policy-making body for the school district. It hires the superintendent — the leader in charge of implementing the school board's policies. The board also approves the district's budget.
Allan, 44, grew up on Long Island in New York and moved to the Denver area about 16 years ago. She lives in unincorporated Arapahoe County near Greenwood Village.
Allan works as a “coverage attorney,” doing research to advise contractors and developers on their insurance questions.
She focuses mainly on construction defects lawsuits — conflicts where a homeowner or homeowners association notices defects a few years after a housing project is complete, often due to Colorado's shifting soils but sometimes due to other issues, Allan said.
When a lawsuit arises against a contractor or developer, Allan sorts out what insurance coverage is available and what parts of the damage are covered.
“I work really hard to make sure my clients know their rights and responsibilities to make sure my clients don't end up in court,” Allan said.
Allan has a fifth-grader and a first-grader in the Cherry Creek district. She says her run for the school board is a natural progression of her years of volunteer and leadership roles in the district.
Years ago, she started attending meetings of her daughter's school accountability committee, a body that advises the principal on school performance, budget priorities and parental engagement. She eventually became the committee's chairperson.
Allan also joined the district accountability committee, a group that advises the Cherry Creek school board on spending priorities, reviews applications for charter schools and reports on the effectiveness of district programs. She's served as chairperson of the district accountability committee since January, according to her resume.
She's vocal about being “pro-mask and pro-science” and raised concerns about what she calls misinformation that is spread “by biased and uninformed people and groups with an extremist political agenda.”
She pointed to when the political group No Left Turn in Education showed a presence in Cherry Creek district, making public comments, Allan said. No Left Turn in Education has raised concerns about critical race theory being taught in the Cherry Creek School District .
They were “spreading rumors and lies about what Cherry Creek is teaching,” Allan said, also decrying the presence of what she said was “militia,” appearing to reference the Cherry Creek school board's June 23 meeting.
At that gathering, at least two commenters said they saw what they described as “militia” members standing outside the building.
District spokesperson Abbe Smith said she saw “men that fit that description” inside and outside of the meeting but that she did not speak to them and could not confirm whether they belonged to such a group. They were not armed but were wearing matching uniforms, Smith said in early July.
“Cherry Creek School District does not teach critical race theory, but I support teaching an honest and inclusive history,” Allan said.
Regarding the charged political climate in the school district — centered around the teaching of racial issues in American society and mask wearing amid the pandemic — Allan said the vision that the school board sets could help tamp down the contentious atmosphere.
“I think that if we focus on that vision, which really ends up being providing excellence and what that means for every child, and ground the conversations in that way, we can kind of encourage people to engage in those conversations,” Allan said.
Allan was endorsed by the Cherry Creek Education Association, the teachers' union in the district, which has contributed $5,000 to her campaign, according to Colorado Secretary of State's Office records. The Colorado Education Association, a teachers' union at the state level, has contributed an additional $3,250 to the campaign.
“When locals endorse, then (the) Colorado (union) typically will also show its support,” Allan said.
Karen Fisher, president of the Cherry Creek school board, contributed $1,000 to Allan's campaign, with Fisher's husband giving the campaign $5,000, according to the records and Allan. Fisher, who represents District E, is term-limited.
“She has been vital to my role in understanding what the board does,” Allan said, noting “the time that she's taken to answer all my questions.”
“We're very different people, but our vision is both, 'How do we reach every kid every day?'” Allan said.
On her campaign Facebook page, Allan posted about a fundraiser for her campaign that included Democratic U.S. Rep. Jason Crow; Democratic state legislature members Iman Jodeh, Rhonda Fields and Meg Froelich; and Sheriff Tyler Brown and Assessor PK Kaiser, both Arapahoe County Democrats. But she said her campaign isn’t politically influenced.
“These are the leaders we elected — they’re our community members,” Allan said, adding that she was honored by their support.
“I would have reached out to them if they were Republicans,” Allan said.
She also noted that four previous Cherry Creek superintendents endorsed her as well.
Allan also contributed $10,500 to her own campaign, which she said she was able to do by selling an extra car.
“My husband and I were planning on buying a little condo in the mountains, and with (trends during) COVID, we were priced out of the market. We had an extra car because we were going to keep it up there, so I decided to sell that car and use my old one,” Allan said.
She hired a campaign consultant to get up to speed on running a campaign, she said.
“I had to do that to make sure I'm following the laws,” such as Colorado campaign finance law, Allan said.
Note: In addition to these candidate profile stories, Colorado Community Media will publish each candidate's responses to a voter-guide questionnaire in print and online.
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