Denver School Board District 5 Candidate Brad Laurvick
Brad Laurvick said he has a “heart for making sure every single student in Denver thrives,” both in the classroom and as they are sent out into the world, and he doesn’t think DPS is meeting the needs of the majority of its students, especially students of color. Laurvick, a DPS parent, parent teacher association (PTA) and classroom volunteer, and reverend at Highlands United Methodist church, said his service to the community sets him apart and makes him the best candidate to serve on the board. For Laurvick, service has been a pursuit at least as far back as when he was in high school, when he would spend his lunch hours reading to elementary school students and as a bilingual volunteer with the orchestra program.
“I’m someone who spends every single day serving the community,” Laurvick said. “Over the last decade, I’ve built relationships and trust and have already demonstrated my capacity to serve and work alongside people. I’m someone who really does believe in building relationships, including with people who believe differently than me.”
Asked about the Denver Plan 2020, DPS’ strategic plan for the past 10 years, he doesn’t believe the district is meeting its goal, citing that Denver has the third worst achievement gap in the country and students aren’t given enough access to apprenticeships or other career options. “We’re not there,” he said.
Laurvick is also focused on dismantling systemic racism he still sees in DPS, noting that while an overall 40% of Denver’s third graders are reading at grade level, 60% of white students read at grade level, but that number is in the low 20s for Latino and Black students.
Regarding the education reform movement in Denver, Laurvick believes there is potential but it hasn’t been used equitably, noting that two-thirds of students in DPS are or have been on a free- and reduced- cost lunch plan (an indicator of poverty), but only one-third of students who utilize the choice process are, meaning students from more affluent families are significantly more likely to fully use DPS’ choice process.
Laurvick said he is “grateful” for the support of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, stating “we took a good step” with the recent strike. “I’m running for school board for the same reasons I supported teachers during the strike: making sure that every student gets a wonderful education; making sure that resources are in the classroom.” Leading up to the strike, the union held community meetings at his church.
DCTA Fund, a political arm of the teachers’ union, has donated $20,000 to Laurvick’s campaign directly, in addition to a $1,250 in-kind contribution, making them the single largest direct donor to a campaign. Historically, the union had been the biggest donor to campaigns, but has been dwarfed by education reform groups and individual donors in recent years. Laurvick’s other supporting organizations include Padres & Jóvenes Unidos Action Fund, Colorado Working Families Party and several labor unions. Laurvick also highlighted the endorsements of former senator, school board member and North Denver icon Lucia Guzman; her successor Senator Julie Gonzales; House District 4 Representative Serena Gonzales-Guiterrez; Councilwoman At-Large Debbie Ortega; and other elected officials.
In addition to teacher compensation, Laurvick is concerned about compensation for other professionals in schools, believing it’s a benefit when those who work in our schools have the ability to live in that community, if they so choose.
When asked how he would approach the budget and pay for additional compensation, Laurvick points to his 15 years of budget experience with nonprofit organizations and a belief in “value-based budgeting,” as well as increased financial transparency for the district. “Right now, only 48% of the money DPS brings in from our taxes goes into the classroom… and it has been sliding over the past decade.”
He also doesn’t believe the bond oversight committee has put funds to the best use possible regarding air conditioning or other cooling systems which are missing from many DPS schools. One of his opponents, Tony Curcio, serves on the bond oversight committee. “It’s very easy for agendas to make their way into that kind of work,” Laurvick said in regard to how bond money has been spent, noting it’s important for the public to understand what options were on the table when decisions were made regarding funds. He also said immediately putting air conditioning in every school is an empty promise, noting it’s unrealistic for the first year. While cooling systems are a large priority for Laurvick, he’s also open to exploring shifting the school calendar to start a few weeks later, noting the last two weeks of August are 8% hotter than the first two weeks of June.
Regarding his faith and career as a Methodist minister, Laurvick reiterated how he’s driven to serve the community in a number of ways, but wanted to make clear that his “faith values don’t shape decisions I make for other people in policy,” noting that he worked with families of many faiths to ensure the winter program at his son’s school wasn’t just a Christmas program but included aspects of other traditions, as well.
Conflicts on the school board have been a hot topic in some past elections, but Laurvick declined to say whether he believed either of his opponents have any, saying “I’d let them answer that question for themselves.” Laurvick doesn’t believe he has any conflicts. His church does run a preschool, and he said he would sit down with the district’s legal team to ensure there is no conflict, but doesn’t believe there is. He noted his job has a lot of flexibility to be able to serve on the volunteer board while working (Denver school board members are unpaid), which he sees as important to the role.
You can read more about Brad Laurvick at BradForDenverSchools.com.