AUBURN — Citing frustration with school officials and the School Department's budget, five former city councilors intend to chase most members of the Auburn School Committee from office.
The group, led by former Councilors Ron Potvin and Mike Farrell, filed petitions to form a recall committee with Auburn City Clerk Sue Clements-Dallaire on Monday afternoon.
Clements-Dallaire said the committee — which includes former Councilors Bob Mennealy, Dan Herrick and Joe Gray — has 90 days to collect 2,395 signatures for each School Committee member they hope to recall. That includes all sitting members except Ward 4's Tracey Levesque.
Potvin said Levesque seemed like the kind of School Committee member the group could work with.
"Basically, she's conservative," Farrell said.
Members targeted by the recall group are William Horton of Ward 1, Bonnie Hayes of Ward 2, Tom Kendall of Ward 3, Larry Pelletier of Ward 5 and at-large representatives Francois Bussiere and Laurie Tannenbaum.
The group also submitted a petition targeting David Young, a city councilor who sits on the School Committee as the appointee of Mayor Jonathan LaBonte, but Clements-Dallaire said she did not know whether Young's School Committee seat could be recalled.
Potvin said frustration with high taxes led the former councilors to act.
"They are out of touch, completely out of touch, with the needs of the citizens of the city of Auburn," Potvin said. "In the times that we are going through, to come forward with these astronomical increases shows no restraint. They think they can just do what they want."
Farrell said the recall effort was the first part of the group's activist effort to completely change Auburn's school system.
"When a business is broke, you replace it from the top down," Farrell said. "Your CEO goes, the board goes and then you do a product replacement. This organization has admitted the product is broken, that Auburn has not had a good education system since the city was born. They've tried to fix it with iPads and everything else. The problem is, we can't afford their fixes. So we need to rethink the organization's structure."
The recall effort gives Potvin and Farrell's committee until about Sept. 9 to collect signatures, and the recall vote would be scheduled soon after that. However, all seven School Committee seats, as well as all seven council seats and the mayor's seat, are up for election on November's ballot, meaning all of the recalled committee members could be up for election for a new term soon after the recall vote.
Farrell said his group's decision was not political but has grown out of a genuine frustration with how school officials work.
"We may be forced to spend money by the state, but at least we'll be forced to spend it with people we actually trust," Farrell said.
"We don't' have any confidence in this School Committee or this school administration," Potvin said.