Dolan, Kim set fundraising bar high in Metro school board races

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 12:08am

Margaret Dolan’s campaign war chest of $106,404 is believed to be the highest fundraising showing ever for a Metro school board race, while Elissa Kim’s $81,414 campaign haul isn’t far behind.

All told, 17 candidates running for school board have collectively raked in at least $377,703, with District 9 candidate Dolan and Kim — who is challenging board chair Gracie Porter in District 5 — accounting for nearly half that figure. School board candidates vying for five seats were required Tuesday to report campaign fundraising totals from the last quarter. Some distanced themselves financially from their opponents.

In separate statements, Dolan and Kim said they are “humbled” by the support. Both benefited from financial support from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, a budding charter school crowd and a host of individual donors.

The two other fundraising winners are District 7 candidate and former Gov. Phil Bredesen aide Will Pinkston, who reported raising $52,749, and District 3 candidate Jarod DeLozier, who raised $35,555 over the last quarter, which ended June 30.

Following the quartet of Dolan, Kim, Pinkston and DeLozer — all school board outsiders hoping to snag a seat — the fundraising totals drop dramatically.

Porter, looking to fend off three opponents including the well-financed Kim, reported raising $18,324, putting her at a significant financial disadvantage. District 5 candidate John Haubenreich raised $9,365, while District 5 candidate Erica Lanier raised $1,994.

In the District 1 race between two sitting school board members, the chamber-backed Sharon Gentry reported raising $13,530, besting her opponent Ed Kindall, who raised $8,210.

Amy Frogge, mounting a strong campaign in District 9 to replace departing board member Kay Simmons, raised $17,864, far below Dolan’s haul. An attorney and active Metro school parent, Frogge cited her individual donations from teachers and downplayed the importance of money.

“I don’t think money always wins these local races,” Frogge said. “I think it has to do with hard work and getting your message out.”

District 9 candidate Bob Bogen, a former councilman, raised $3,712. Former Councilman Eric Crafton, also running in District 9, told The City Paper he postmarked his financial disclosure, but said his fundraising would be small. He said he’s planning to “self-finance” his campaign. Candidate Ronnie Osborne did not turn in a financial disclosure.

In the District 3 race to replace the departing Mark North, DeLozer outpaced Jill Speering, who raised $8,602, and Free Lee, who raised $5,050. In district 7, Pinkston, bested the SEIU-backed Al Wilkins, who reported a $14,185 fundraising total and Alan Sharp, who reported collecting $10.

Dolan, vice president of community relations at Ingram Industries, enjoys the support of Mayor Karl Dean, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and Metro Nashville Education Association, the local teachers’ union.

Kim, an executive for Teach For America, shares the support of the chamber with Porter. But Kim –– as well as Dolan and DeLozer –– has emerged as the choice for a new group of charter school backers in Nashville who have shown a willingness to reach into their wallets.

Dolan and Kim each collected $7,100 checks from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s SuccesPac, an equal amount from the pro-charter school PAC Great Public Schools, and $3,000 contributions from a PAC formed by StudentsFirst, a new education organization that former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee leads.

Great Public Schools, a PAC that a trio of affluent charter backers organized, reported raising $34,300. The PAC’s leadership consists of charter supporters Bill DeLoache, John Eason and Townes Duncan (Full disclosure: Duncan heads the board of SouthComm, parent company of The City Paper.)

In addition to maxing out $7,100 donations to Dolan and Kim, Great Public Schools gave an identical figure to DeLozier and $10,000 to hire Bass, Berry & Sims law firm to file an amicus brief in the Spurlock v. Fox federal schools rezoning case.

Among those who contributed to Great Public Schools were auto dealership owner Lee Beaman, attorney Lee Barfield, attorney Charles Bone, businessman David Ingram and former school board chair David Fox.

Fundraising by race:

District 1

  • Sharon Gentry –– $13,530
  • Ed Kindall –– $8,210

 District 3

  • Jarod DeLozier –– $35,555
  • Jill Speering –– $8,602
  • Free Lee –– $5,050 

District 5

  • Elissa Kim –– $81,414
  • Gracie Porter –– $18,324
  • John Haubenreich –– $9,365
  • Erica Lanier –– $1,994

District 7

  • Will Pinkston –– $52,749
  • Al Wilkins –– $14,185
  • Alan Sharp –– $10 

District 9

  • Margaret Dolan –– $106,404
  • Amy Frogge –– $17,864
  • Bob Bogen –– $3,712
  • Eric Crafton –– unclear
  • Ronnie Osborne –– unclear

11 Comments on this post:

By: GuardianDevil01 on 7/11/12 at 4:43

I will gladly support the first candidate who speaks the truth about public education. The biggest problem is not lack of money, nor is it the teachers. The biggest problem is the students, and by extension the parents. Let's stop with what Charles Murray used to call "educational romaticism" and start dealing with the realities of trying to teach kids who at times cannot learn but for the most part simply do not want to do so. Unfortunately "no child left behind" means many children will be held back. Let's stop worrying about the ones who go to school to Keep It Real and start focusing on those who want an education. Bring back proven tools such as the hickory stick (if parents will not discipline their kids then someone else should) and the dunce cap. Of course a candidate who will tell a parent, "Hey, we discovered the reason why your kid is stupid; it's YOU!" will not get elected.

By: KalbHollow on 7/11/12 at 5:19

Those candidates who have not sold out to the PACs should take what little money they have and send out one flyer. Don't even say what you would do if elected--they all say the same thing. Just put the amounts their opponents have taken from special interest groups on the flyer. I think most Nashvillians want a board member that will listen to them, and not one that will be a mouthpiece for a failed former DC school district administrator and three local private school hacks.

By: howelln on 7/11/12 at 9:31

I am always suspicious of money that comes from outside the district. I am also suspicious when Carl Dean supports a candidate. Amy Frogge is the only candidate in district 9 with children currently in metro schools. Please vote for her.

By: NashMom on 7/11/12 at 9:54

So tired of the Nashville elites trying to buy local elections. I agree with howelln. Amy Frogge certainly has our votes! I feel I can trust her to represent us and our children, not Mayor Dean, or the avid charter supporters or the conservative PACs that have emerged. Wake up and speak out Nashvillians! Vote Amy Frogge for school board if you live in District 9.

By: Balo on 7/11/12 at 11:20

Vote for Amy Frogge because she has kids in school and stands up against the elites. If one is using that measuring stick, then you have the wrong candidate.

Vote for Ronnie Osborne who is a graduate of this system and was the one who called out Magaret Dolan and Eric Crafton for hiding the fact that they took their kids out of the system. It has cost Mrs Dolan thousands of dollars to recover from that night...robo calls & mail outs.

Amy had first chance at Hillwood to call them out, but she did not.

By: ericfloyd21 on 7/11/12 at 12:24

If the Chamber/ Mayor's office/Charter School advocates and individuals behind these PACs are truly concerned with improving Metro Schools and have no ulterior motives (laughable, I agree), the solution is not to throw money at it. Implementing some radical metro wide program (see balanced calander with enhanced intersession options, more pathway choices, grade speed, dynamic charter schools, etc ...) might sound good to the Chamber and Mayor when they make their corporate recruiting pitches, but make zero difference at the school level and end up being a giant waste of taxpayer dollars. The answer is much easier then all of that and it needs to start one board district at a time. Improvement and parential involvement go hand in hand. If people like Mayor Dean, Townes Duncan and Lee Beaman are really for "Great Public Schools," they need to send their kids to public school. Instead of lobbying for sweeping initatives, they need to lobby their neighbors and co-workers to send their kids to public school as well. Lobby their wives to scale back, just a bit, their involvement with Swan Ball, The Humane Society or whatever the "it" social cause of the moment happens to be. They can use that free time they just created to volunteer in the classroom or just plain bust ball$ at their kids' school. That type of parential involvement is how to get "Great Public Schools," not "enhanced options." If the "elite" did that, all the climbers would suddenly follow suit and before you know it schools in districts 9&8 would be at capacity. Then give parents in other districts the chance to get involved. Return places like Pearl-Cohen and Haynes Middle back to their respective communities. You do that and the parents that care start making a difference there as well. Making them drive from MetroCenter to Hillwood to simply meet with their kids' teacher will do nothing but discourage that kind of activity. Karl Dean, Margaret Dolan and the like are smart people. I'm sure they realize that improvement starts with involvement at the individual school level, not from the board of the "Metro Nashville Public School System Strategic Task Force." So until they actually send their kids to public school, and get involved at that school, I view all their talk about "passion for improving public education" and "Great Public Schools" as nothing but hypocritical political rhetoric.

By: murdog on 7/11/12 at 2:43

Amy Frogge is by far the superior candidate and this city should be grateful to have someone of her caliber and character in the race and on the school board. You will find very few people with her level of commitment or dedication. Her husband is Patrick Frogge, a well respected Nashville attorney who has a bright future in Nashville political circles and is considered one of the brightest legal minds currently in Nashville. Do the right thing, vote for Amy Frogge and put Davidson county's children and students first.- Murdog

By: Ask01 on 7/11/12 at 5:24

Sad, isn't it? The amounts of money these candidates schmooze for in order to be elected to a position directly affecting the education of Nashville's children, I mean.

I stand by my original assertion the school board should be drawn from those active PTA members within MNPS.

I cannot be convinced electing people who have no stake in the subject is the correct course, or will ensure the best people are guiding the school district.

Parents with students enrolled should be the ones on the board. So what if they lack some degree in education? That fact might lead them to make logical, down to earth decisions. They should be more than capable of crafting policies based on what they know about the schools from (GASP!) first hand information.

On another note, I noticed elsewhere Metro would not be sponsoring the annual back to school program handing out materials to students. They are instead, as I understand, asking for donations from the public and parents.

I thought Mayor Dean and Metro Council justified needing a tax increase to benefit the children and education?

Could it be they were lying to us?

By: MathGeek on 7/12/12 at 8:08

How about electing a school board representative who understands there is much more to running a school district than simply approving charter schools? How about the people in the county with school-aged children going to the schools, getting tours during the school day, and actually talking with school personnel prior to making their decision regarding which school their child attends rather than believe the paranoid rumor-mongering that exists now about the schools? How about getting involved, volunteering, joining PTSAs/PTAs/PTOs to truly see what is happening and what their child has the opportunity to be a part of?

I want school board members who are NOT single issue minded, but it appears that's where we're headed. With mindsets like that the school board will become as divided and divisive as what we have going on in Washington, DC. Stick to the party lines, who gives a you-know-what about what is best for the entire county as long as I get my way.

There are amazing, amazing, amazing schools in all parts of the county that already exist. Several of them are rated among the best in the state and/or country, and not all of them are magnets that require test scores for admission. Find those, be a part of those. If your child's zoned school isn't one of them, then work with the school leadership to make them into amazing schools.

By: pswindle on 7/12/12 at 10:15

We need to keep away from anyone that Charter Schools, Mayor , Chamber or Register want.

By: Quill on 9/2/12 at 5:57

I wonder how much money these candidates took from the Koch brothers, directly or indirectly (i.e.: from American's For Prosperity)? It will also be interesting how many times the new board members use the words or phrases: "school choice, neighborhood schools, parental choice", etc... All throwback phrases from a segregated south. Don't believe me? Check out the new documentary "Koch Brothers Exposed" to see how they funded the school board election in NC.