Greg Wilkinson recall, Yuma, Arizona (2009)

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On March 31, 2009, petitioners began gathering signatures for a recall effort against Yuma District 1 School Board President Greg Wilkinson.[1]

In late April, Joseph Michaud, a retired aircraft maintenance chief who was leading the recall campaign, abandoned the effort to recall Wilkinson when he met with the school board. He stated that the school board assured him the board meetings would be taped and then shown to the public.[2]

Recall effort

The recall effort was led by Joseph Michaud, who previously drove a school bus for the Yuma Education Consortium, and Heather George, a Planned Parenthood administrator and former consumer science teacher at Fourth Avenue Junior High School.[1]

The organizers had 120 days from March 31, 2009, to gather the necessary 1,588 signatures.[1]

Reasons for recall

According to Michaud, the main reason for the recall was that several schools in the district failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards, which is a standard set by the federal 2001 No Child Left Behind Act that stipulates any negative result in any category means the entire school is not up to AYP standards, which in turn affects funding.[1]

Another issue was the increase in class size. There was concern that an increase in the student to teacher ratio was likely to result in teacher layoffs. These layoffs were likely going to affect probationary teachers, or those with less than three years of experience, and there were worries that good teachers would be let go while veteran teachers showed no sign of improvement. "By increasing class size, that eliminates teachers and he (Wilkinson) placed a burden on children," Michaud said. "If the budget cuts go through, a greater percentage should be reduced from the administration. We could possibly eliminate some of the vice principals and have counselors deal with disciplinary issues."[1]

Heather George agreed. "Wilkinson is the leader of the board so he directs the outcomes and has a lot of influence. Instead of cutting teachers who work directly with children, cut administrative positions."[1]

Response

Wilkinson stated that while there is no good way to debate his position, the recall organizers have some of their information wrong, stating that AYP scores have gone up during his tenure, and also pointing to the state budget cuts in January 2009. The state reduced the district's $50 million budget by $2.2 million, and it was likely going to be cut by $6.6 million more, for a total of a 12% budget cut for the 2009-10 school year. Wilkinson said there was no way to cut 12% of the budget and not see an effect on the classroom. "I understand people are frustrated and they want to lash out at somebody, but what they're trying to do will not solve the problem," Wilkinson said. "This is exactly why we have trouble getting good people to serve on the board, yet we have great people on the board. But there is no pay and it's long hours. We have no control over (the legislature's input on) the budget and it's why people are upset."[1]

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