WINDSOR — A parent group frustrated with how things are being run by the Windsor-Severance Re-4 school board turned in more than the required signatures on Wednesday to start the recall process of two members of that board.
It will be a month before Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes announces if the more than 6,000 signatures turned in are valid, but Luke and Brooke Alles, two of the parents behind the effort, believe they are. Ashley Harrison was the third parent named on the recall.
“Honestly, I never thought there would be a need for a recall in Re-4,” Brooke said. “I was convinced (despite many others telling me different), the leaders of the district would hear the parents out and take the small steps to come together for the children.”
Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District is home to about 8,000 students in the affluent suburbs just 10 miles northwest of Greeley, with a portion of the district lying inside Greeley borders.
The district is led by a five-member board of directors. Board President Jennifer Lieber and Director Regan Price are the two members targeted for the recall.
Two other members, Lance Nichols and Chris Perkins (who were both previously appointed to fill vacant seats) were up for re-election on the November ballot. Nichols retained his seat, but Perkins lost to newcomer Aaron Smith. Both races were heated and ugly from the start, dividing the small community in battles that included multiple campaign finance violation complaints and more than $40,000 dollars in campaign expenditures.
In addition to the recall and the two board seats, the district asked voters for a mill-levy increase and a $180 million bond for new schools last week. Both failed, as the group leading the recall efforts also opposed the bond, campaigning against it with the slogan “right bond/wrong board.”
The recall itself has also divided the community with signs on both sides of issue in every corner from West Greeley to Windsor to Severance.
Well-known, local developer and Windsor native, Martin Lind, who has historically backed the school district, sent a letter during the campaign to residents in the Water Valley development — a metro district on the southeast side of town — endorsing a no vote on the bond until the current board could be replaced.
Signature gathering was uphill battle from the start. Because Lieber and Price ran unopposed in their last election, the election was canceled, so rather than the usual recall requirement of 40 percent of votes cast, organizers had to collect a number equal to 10 percent of all registered voters, a daunting 3,120 valid signatures per recall target from active registered voters in a community with just 31,000 total registered voters. No one thought it would happen.
But on Wednesday, Koppes confirmed she took possession of approximately 3,250 signatures each for the two women. She has until Dec. 8 to validate them. Luke said the group was verifying signatures as they collected them, and he is optimistic they have enough to put the recall on the ballot, which wouldn’t happen until sometime in March or April of 2022, Koppes said.
Should any signatures be rejected, the recall effort will have three days from the time of notification to cure the signatures.
Brook pointed to several issues she had with the district that went ignored and unanswered as the reason she started to grow concerned. But she said when policies were put in place without the proper public votes and when the district expanded its social and emotional learning while the curriculum was still under review without notifying parents, she said enough was enough.
“It was evident that there was a need for a recall,” Brooke said. “As parents were growing more and more frustrated and the impact on the students was also becoming worse and worse.”
Complete Colorado had not been able to contact Lieber and Price by press time.
Koppes said this is the first school board recall in Weld County that she has processed, although voters in 10 other school districts of the 22 districts in Weld have contacted her for more information. She said it is also one of the first in the state under new recall laws that went into effect this year.
A recall attempt in the Boulder Valley School District is in the signature collection process currently.
That law requires circulators to wear name badges that identify them as either paid or volunteer, the petition must identify how much the recall will cost — in Windsor it’s estimated to be about $85,000 — it requires the reasons for the recall to be truthful and if the election ends in a tie, the subject of the recall retains their seat.
Koppes said she will notify all the parties involved by Friday of the exact timeline of events.
Brooke said regardless of the outcome, the community went through the democratic process and she’s hopeful Liber and Price will now listen to their constituents.
“The opposition of the recall was concerned about the cost,” Brooke said. “Therefore, they have the rare opportunity to listen to both sides and bring the community together by resigning and saving the district that money. It is sad that some very small adjustment sin communication or parent involvement couldn’t lead to a resolution, but I think it’s been an awakening to many and very eye opening that something must change.”
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