The Prospect Ridge Academy board in Broomfield returned a badly needed donation and turned down a sponsorship offer for its annual fundraising gala from the fracking company Extraction Oil and Gas.
A heated battle over fracking is going on in Broomfield over the company's plan to put hundreds of wells in the community, and activists put pressure on the school not to do the company any favors.
"By accepting the donation from Extraction Oil & Gas we did not intend to express support of their proposal, but we understand that many of you perceived it as such, which created divisiveness in our community," the school's board wrote. "We want nothing more than to create a cohesive community aligned with the mission of providing a world-class education for our students."
The board added in the letter that support for school fundraisers is needed, especially for the March 11 gala the company sought to sponsor, "as we are significantly behind in donations and registration numbers for both."
Broomfield Clean Air & Water posted on its Facebook page Saturday:
"The voice of the citizens should never be underestimated. On January 26, we posted the fact that Extraction Oil and Gas, the company behind the plan which is proposing 68 wells within 2,500 to 3,000 ft of PRA (Prospect Ridge Academy), was sponsoring PRA's 2017 Gala on March 11. One week later, on February 2, and due to citizens expressing their concerns to PRA, the PRA Board voted 4 to 2 to return the money. We applaud the PRA Board for their decision.
"The reason that this is important is because when schools accept money from private companies that may be engaged in activities counter to the well-being of a community and a school, politicians can, and do, use that fact to state that without oil and gas, the community would not have a school. By schools not taking money from oil and gas companies, politicians will not be able to use that fact to justify why these operations should be located within and around our residential communities and close to schools."
Public image matters right now.
The Broomfield City Council is considering a six-month moratorium on fracking, and both sides are working for an edge in community support.
Vital Colorado, a statewide coalition of industry-friendly businesses, accused the Broomfield group of "intimidation and bullying tactics to pressure anyone who doesn't agree with them."
On its website, Broomfield Clear Air & Water asks for the names and addresses of city residents who would support a recall against any council member who fails to "protect the citizens of Broomfield from the adverse health, safety, and environmental impacts of oil and gas exploration and drilling within residential communities."
"Sadly, this is politics at its worst," Vital for Colorado board member Michelle Smith said in a statement. "There's clearly room for common ground among the community, yet these recall threats only incite the divisiveness that now seems to rule our public discourse. This isn't the Colorado Way."