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Barnes, Thomas headed for school board seats

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By Matt Gunn

Jane Barnes and Dave Thomas have apparently been elected to the Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education, and voters Tuesday also voided an obsolete measure tying additional taxes to student performance.

The outcome of two education board seats and the fate of Jeffco's “performance promise” were decided in some of the only countywide ballot issues on this year's ballot.

“I'm pleased, actually,” Barnes said. “I've had a lot of support from a lot of people, and I really appreciate that. And I appreciate being able to do a lot more work with kids in Jeffco.”

In her bid for a second term, Barnes led opponent Jeff Braa 54.5 percent to 23.5 percent, with 88 percent of the votes counted. Turnout was about 35 percent in the mail-in election.

Thomas ran unopposed in District 3, which covers northwest Jefferson County.

Approximately 88,500 ballolts had been tallied as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Barnes’ District 4 seat was the only one of the two school board positions that was contested. She said that, due to lack of public forums, it was difficult to organize a campaign.

“I'm not quite sure what the deal was,” Barnes said. “It was very interesting this year. I spoke to my opponent a little while ago and I told him, ‘For someone new, it doesn't give them a lot of exposure.’ ”

Barnes had organized a campaign that included a website, which detailed her mission. Her campaign focused on stability and building on the board's accomplishments over the last four years, while Braa sought to develop magnet programs in each school in an effort to balance distribution of high academic achievers.

Braa could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

“I had a lot of calls or questions on a lot of the issues, but I would like to know where my opponent stood on those issues,” Barnes said. “Or Dave Thomas for that matter.”

Barnes, president-elect of the Colorado Association of School Boards, said she will likely not serve as chairman of the Jeffco school board in the upcoming term. The board reorganizes itself with each election.

“So it's somebody else's turn to get some experience in Jeffco, and that's a good thing,” Barnes said.

Countywide ballot issue 3A, which asked voters to remove an “all-or-nothing” tax measure known as the performance promise, was approved by a margin of 76.7 percent to 19.4 percent.

The issue, which district Superintendent Cindy Stevenson called a “housekeeping measure,” essentially voided a measure approved in 1999 linking student performance on tests to an added mill levy. As statewide testing expanded, reaching the specified benchmarks for the higher taxes was not a possibility during recent years.

“We don't gain or lose; voters don't gain or lose,” Stevenson said of the ballot measure.

Contact Matt Gunn at matt@evergreenco.com.