Disgruntled parents and community members have launched an effort to recall all five members of the Platte Canyon school board.
Parents and Citizens for Education, a group of Bailey residents, began collecting signatures on the recall petitions at the Bailey Day celebration on Saturday.
PACE charges that the school district isn’t delivering on “high student achievement” in the form of ACT scores and graduation rates, and that the school board discourages public involvement in decisions. The group also expressed concerns about poor management in the district and about water quality and emergency exits at Deer Creek Elementary School.
School board members Chet Lawrence and Katie Spodyak told the Times they were disappointed by the recall efforts and defended their leadership of the district.
Targeted by the recall efforts are board members Lawrence, Spodyak, Katy Davis, Susan Carpenter and Jon DeStefano. The seats of Lawrence, Spodyak and Carpenter are up for regular election next year.
Bryan Curtis, a parent and president of PACE’s board of directors, said the organization sees itself as a watchdog group and wants the community to have a bigger say in decisions that affect the school district.
But district Superintendent Brenda Krage called the recall efforts counterproductive, and she voiced support for the board members.
“I’ve worked with many school boards during my career, and this is one of the best, most effective and student-centered boards I’ve ever worked with,” Krage said. “I think the efforts by this group are adversarial to the district, and I think energies could be brought forward in a more positive way.”
Lawrence said fear of change and the decision not to renew the contract of Fitzsimmons Middle School principal Rim Watson were factors in the recall efforts.
“We hired Dr. Krage last year, and this year has been a year of some changes. I think whenever that happens, that kind of changes the playing field. … When we did hire her, we had a lot of community and staff input about what they wanted. …,” Lawrence said.
“Sometimes the changes can be difficult. … I am very upset about it — not for me, but it poses a great disruption in the district. The staff is concerned, and they fear a loss of stability.”
PACE must collect 650 signatures for each board member by Aug. 21 to put the recall on the November ballot.
Curtis acknowledged that the community has not been as engaged with school district as it could have been — no board seats have been contested in elections since 2009.
Contact reporter Sal Christ at email@example.com or at 303-350-1035.