Cherry Creek school board candidates discuss test scores, live-streaming meetings and SROs

Tayler Shaw
Posted 9/16/23

The race for three seats on the Cherry Creek School District Board of Education is underway, and all five candidates met during a candidate forum at Smoky Hill High School.

The school …

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Cherry Creek school board candidates discuss test scores, live-streaming meetings and SROs


The race for three seats on the Cherry Creek School District Board of Education is underway, and all five candidates met during a candidate forum at Smoky Hill High School.

The school district has more than 53,000 students across 67 schools. Its board of education is made up of five directors. 

The three board of education director positions up for election are a District A seat, District B seat and District C seat. The election will be Nov. 7, and the elected directors will serve four-year terms. 

Competing for District A are incumbent Anne Egan and challenger Steve McKenna.

The District B seat only has one candidate — Ruthie Knowles, who is positioned to take over the seat currently held by District B Director Janice McDonald. 

For District C, the two candidates are incumbent Angela Garland and Scott Graves.

McKenna and Graves are running together, sharing the platform, “Inspiring Excellence CCSD School Board.”

Deputy Superintendent Jennifer Perry moderated the candidate forum, where a variety of issues were discussed such as state test scores, live-streaming board meetings and whether to have more school resource officers or SROs.

Since Knowles is running unopposed, she introduced herself and answered a quick round of yes-or-no questions before being asked to join the audience to listen to the other candidates.

At the Sept. 12, 2023, candidate forum, the Cherry Creek school board candidates answered a quick round of yes-or-no questions by raising their hand.

Test scores

One of the issues raised during the Sept. 12 forum was the school district’s state assessment scores.

McKenna said he is “concerned that our district is leaving too many of the students behind.”

“This is not the fault of our teachers, students, staff or parents who have been true heroes over the trials of the last three years, but rather the district’s leadership — which fails to educate half its students to grade level proficiency in English and fails nearly 60% in math,” McKenna said. 

According to the Colorado Department of Education, 49.7% of Cherry Creek students who participated in the 2023 Colorado Measures of Academic Success assessments met or exceeded expectations in English language arts, and 39.9% met or exceeded expectations in mathematics.

Both scores are higher than the statewide scores, which were 43.7% of students meeting or exceeding expectations in English language arts and 32.9% meeting or exceeding expectations in mathematics. 

However, the school district’s scores are lower than they were before the pandemic. In 2019, 50.8% of Cherry Creek students met or exceeded expectations in English language arts, and 43.1% did so in mathematics.

Egan said the school district has experienced some struggles with test scores since the pandemic. 

“It was a difficult time during the pandemic. And I want to get back to focusing on our test scores and making sure that people understand what the state assessment actually does,” Egan said. 

Live-streaming meetings

Graves and McKenna said they believe the Board of Education should start live-streaming its meetings. 

In June, the Sentinel Colorado Editorial Board said the Cherry Creek School District is the largest district in Colorado that does not livestream or broadcast its school board meetings. 

Currently, the school district publishes an audio recording of its meetings on its YouTube channel after the meeting. 

Graves said he cannot think of a single good reason why the board does not live-stream its meetings. 

“We should be live-streaming our board meetings and we should be accepting comments from people who are joining us online,” he said. 

McKenna said he agrees with Graves that the school board should live-stream meetings so that more parents can attend. 

Incumbent candidates Garland and Egan did not specifically mention live-streaming meetings during the forum. 

Garland did say that she thinks the school district does an excellent job at providing opportunities for parental involvement. 

“As our society is growing and changing, yes, some of those methods need to evolve and change as well,” she said. 

School resource officers

Candidates shared differing viewpoints on whether the school district should have more SROs.

Graves and McKenna’s shared website states they will work to have an SRO in “every single Cherry Creek school.” 

District spokesperson Lauren Snell said via email that the Cherry Creek School District currently employs 150 security staff, which includes 25 SROs. 

She said the school district has four law enforcement partners that have jurisdiction over the district — the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Aurora Police Department, Greenwood Village Police Department and Cherry Hills Village Police Department. 

Since the SROs are police officers, they are armed, Snell said. 

“Our SROs are primarily in high schools and middle schools and float among elementary schools,” Snell wrote. 

During the forum, a question posed to the District C candidates was, “How do you reconcile the research that shows mental and academic detriment of police presence in schools with a push to increase SROs?”

Graves said that if there is a school shooting, people call 911. 

“Why would we force ourselves to wait for that help?” he said. “Let’s make sure that we have SROs who are there to protect our children and keep them safe. And let’s start early so that kids can learn that police are their friends. They’re their advocates.”

Garland said she does not think any parent teaches their children that police are adversaries. 

“I think that some of those feelings that some of our students and families have come from personal life experiences,” she said.

The presence of school resource officers and police in school buildings is complicated, she said. 

Garland said that some of the police departments cannot staff their own regular needs. 

“Also, we need to remember that schools are schools,” she said. “We have Safe2Tell, we have mental health services — all of these things that … help make our schools safer and teach our children (to) be partners with police.”

Later in the forum, McKenna said he believes the school district would be serving its students by having armed SROs in more schools. 

“I don’t believe that that needs to or should be scary for children,” McKenna said. “I think we can ensure that it, in fact, teaches them that parents and adults and people in authority are looking out for them — they care for them and they want to protect them.”

Regarding McKenna’s comment about armed SROs in school buildings, Egan said she disagrees and a further conversation can be held about it later. 

Keeping politics out of it

Several candidates spoke about the importance of keeping politics out of the school district. 

“I would like to remind everyone that this is a nonpartisan seat, and this is not a place for politics,” Egan said. “When we get into divisive arguments with politics, it’s costly for our students and our staff.”

McKenna agreed, saying politics should “have no place in our schools.” 

Graves said politics are irrelevant when it comes to dealing with kids. 

“There is no place in the school district for politics, at least at the … teacher level and in the classroom,” he said. “Every child should have the opportunity and feel comfortable expressing themselves in the way that they think is best, even if it's not a very popular opinion.”

Garland said she has always set aside her personal views to work with families and the community.  

“I think all voices should be at the table,” she said. “I think all voices are valuable and help me to be the best director that I can be.”

Those interested in viewing the full candidate forum can visit To learn more about the candidates, visit

sro, cherry creek school district, board of education, colorado, test scores, Colorado Department of Education


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