Ellicott school-board recall may proceed

August 24, 2011

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder decided Wednesday that a recall effort targeting two members of Ellicott School District 22 Board of Education may proceed.

“I’m not surprised that it went that way,” said Stefanie Dickinson, one of the two board members targeted. “I’m sad that it did.”

Board member Gary Lake also will face the recall vote.

At a special meeting tonight, the school board is expected to schedule the recall election to coincide with the regular Nov. 1 election, saving the district $10,000 to $15,000, board members said.

“It would be irresponsible to do it any other way,” Lake said.

Assuming the board does set the election date today, candidates interested in running to replace either Dickinson or Lake may pick up petitions from the county clerk starting Friday. Potential candidates would have until Sept. 9 to turn in their completed packets, including 25 signatures, said Liz Olson, county elections manager. Recall aside, Lake said the Ellicott board will focus on persuading district voters to approve a bond issue on the Nov. 1 ballot.

District 22 has an opportunity to receive a $15 million grant from the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) financial assistance fund. To qualify, the district must match a fraction of the grant. The ballot measure would cost homeowners an additional $40 to $50 a year, he said.

“We don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle,” Lake said.

County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams and other elections officials held a hearing Wednesday morning to give district resident a chance to protest the recall petitions. Two protests were filed, but one was withdrawn at the hearing, which was attended by recall committee leaders Gary Dahn, his son Michael Dahn, and Chuck Howarth.

The recall petitions claimed Lake and Dickinson have shown poor fiscal oversight, failed to improve education performance in the district, have not addressed a teacher retention problem and do not communicate effectively.

Dickinson and Lake protested, and submitted documents that included fiscal audits, details on student performance and teacher retention, and parent survey results.

“I never have a problem with folks who disagree,” he said. His concern, he said, is inaccurate and untrue information passed as fact.

“I personally think we will win the recall,” Lake said. “It’s kind of a nuisance, but it’s part of the process.”

Dickinson and Lake have two years left in their terms. Two other board members, targeted in a recall effort that was disqualified last year, are up for election in November.

“I didn’t get on the board to sabotage the district,” said Dickinson, who has three children attending Ellicott schools. “I’ve done the right things for the kids in the district. We’ll see what the voters think.”

Contact the writer at 636-0162.

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