A special election to recall three members of the Hesperia Unified School District school board is a long way and many months from becoming a reality, but all sides have begun to have their official say.


Board members Hardy Black, Robert Kirk and Lee Rogers have filed their responses to a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition filed on July 26 with the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters. Each party involved, including the 10-person group of recall proponents who filed the notice, got the chance to spell out their position in 200 words or less, which will appear on petition sheets circulated by the pro-recall side, in their attempt to raise the thousands of signatures required.


"In Hesperia Unified School District, there should be nothing more important than the education of our children and the sound financial decision of our elected officials," the statement by the recall proponents begins. "Recent news stories indicate that Hesperia Unified School District board member " -- each board member is identified in three otherwise identical statements filed with the registrar -- "has misrepresented and consistently overridden the desires and request of the teachers, citizens, and students, raising questions about leadership and judgment that could be considered a total blatant misuse of tax payer's dollars. Questionable actions as:



"Awarding a contract to the least experienced bidder, according to district standards, paying up to $7,000,000 in unneeded additional fees to oversee the building of Oak Hills High School and delaying the opening by one year."
"Hiring a consultant that duplicates the job of district managers in the amount of $10,000 per month who only reports to the board. Cost of $360,000."
"Elimination of effective sixth grade schools, resulting in elementary school overcrowding."
"Unnecessary expenditure of thousands of dollars on survey for an unpopular calendar change."

"Mismanagement of our tax dollars and outright neglect of our students warrant his immediate removal.


"We urge you to join us in supporting the recall of [the board member named on the sheet]. Hesperia students deserve better.


"http://www.hesperiaeducationfirst.com/"


Before the close of business Thursday -- the deadline -- all three targeted board members had filed their responses with the registrar.


"Our 16 children and 39 grandchildren are extremely important to me and my wife, Cleone," Black wrote. "I hope all parents have similar feelings! Our daughter, Reyna, enrolled at Joshua Circle in 1973. Black family children will have attended Hesperia's schools non-stop for 39 years when Lance graduates in 2012.


"I have taught and coached thousands of your children during my 38 years in Hesperia schools. My first year, I realized these kids are our future!


"Last November, you voted to entrust me to help guide the direction or our school district. Thank you! I take this charge very seriously. Our children and their schools are my first priority! With every decision I ask myself: 'How will this affect kids at school?'


"The tremendous population growth of the last decade strains every school. A master plan needs to be developed to deal with the resulting problems! I desire to help create this plan and focus district resources on safe new schools!


"From day one, a loud group of extremists has protested my election. None of this group even bothered to discuss anything with me! People need to solve problems, not make more! Call me at (760) 244-9144. For more, see allkidsfirst.net."


"Just nine months ago, the people of Hesperia elected me to the School Board," Kirk's statement begins. "Thank you.


"I welcome the challenges of improving education at the district level, particularly after serving 36 years in the classroom and being honored twice as Hesperia 'Secondary Teacher of the Year.'


"However, teaching was not my first career. I proudly served as an Air Force officer flying 197 combat missions over Vietnam. After being honorable discharged, I earned a Ph.D. and found my passion in teaching science to young people.


"Vicki and I have been married for 40 years. We have two sons that graduated from Hesperia High School and now dedicate their lives to public service.


"While we should be spending our time working to improve our schools, a group of local extremists is wasting time and money with this recall. I'll not be distracted by this fruitless effort, but will continue to do the work the good people of Hesperia elected me to do. We have to build new schools, reduce class sizes, and improve campus security for all our students.


"If you have any questions, please call me at (760) 956-6525."


"Less than a year ago, Hesperia voters elected me to serve them on the school board," Rogers wrote. "As a high school teacher and a former librarian, I have a passion for the families of Hesperia that want a better education.


"At 65 years old, I'm proud of my six kids, 13 grandkids, 2 great grandkids, and thousands of surrogate children here in the Victor Valley where I have lived since 1944. My kids call me at (760) 956-6477. You can, too.


"Teaching at a continuation high school is what I do. I help at-risk young people try to get their lives on track. After years in this environment, I can say that I have helped thousands of people improve their lives. These are young people that are easy to care about.


"While I am focused on young people, some local extremists have decided to attempt a recall election. Every dollar and minute of time that is spent on this could be helping a young person that really needs it.


"The person handing you this petition is focused on politics. Let them. I will focus on our children. That is where our real energy belongs."


Those hoping to recall the three newly elected board members have until early December to gather approximately 6,919 signatures -- or 20 percent of the 34,596 registered voters living in the Hesperia Unified School District.


That would require gathering more signatures than voted for Lee Rogers, who received 5,946, and only 45 signatures fewer than were cast for Black on November 7, 2006. The signatures, if gathered, would amount to a little more than 85 percent of the votes cast for Kirk, the top vote-getter, who picked up 8,057 votes.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.