Months of bitter feuding have ended with the ouster of three Oracle Elementary School Governing Board members.
A group calling themselves The Committee for a Community Responsive School Board targeted board members Susan Beaman, Boyd Bosma and Jack Walden for recall last October.
Recall candidates Alicia Bristow, Dave Bowersock and Kurt Steffens won the May 20 contest, each with more than 60 percent of the vote.
“The biggest change will be the fact that there will be five board members working as a cohesive unit working together for the betterment of the district,” incoming board member Steffens said.
A complaint against the soon-to-be previous board members was that they often appeared at odds with retiring Superintendent John Clark, district faculty and one another.
Advocates for the recall also claimed the incumbent board members were “ineffectual” in their board positions.
Recall organizers had accused the outgoing members of allowing animosity and personal vendettas to cloud their judgment — to the detriment of the district.
Much of the recall group’s fury was aimed at defeated board member Bosma, who recall organizers claimed sought to exact revenge against Clark for filing an open meeting law claim against Bosma’s wife Madeline, herself a former Oracle school board member. That claim ultimately resulted in Madeline’s resignation.
Bosma has denied the claims of revenge, saying that the balance of power in the district had shifted in favor of the superintendent. Bosma, along with ousted member Walden, sought to return the balance in favor of the district’s elected officials.
Since 2007, five open meeting law claims were filed against board members and Clark. None of the alleged violations resulted in fines or sanctions.
No determination has been made about a complaint filed by Clark against Bosma earlier this month.
The success of the recall marks the first in what will be a period of changes for the rural school district.
The new board members will take their posts on an as-yet undetermined date next month. Come July, new Superintendent Todd Kissick takes up the reigns of management.
Kissick comes to Oracle from Seligman in Northern Arizona, where he headed the town’s school system for the past three years.
New board member Bowersock said the changes should usher in an era of greater cooperation among board members, something he said was lacking in the recent past.
“I think the harmony on the board will be much better than before,” Bowersock said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
|Recall election results
There are 9,322 registered voters in the school district. Of those, 2,520 — or 27.03 percent — voted in the recall election. Pinal County Election officials said vote wouldn’t be officially finalized until June 4. The new members will claim their posts in a meeting after then.
• Votes: 1,641
• Percentage: 65.9
• Votes: 844
• Percentage: 33.9
• Votes: 1,738
• Percentage: 69.38
• Votes: 766
• Percentage: 30.58
• Votes: 1,682
• Percentage: 67.58
• Votes: 802
• Percentage: 32.22