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Four Candidates for Two Positions - Dolores School Board

By Valerie Maez

As parents and other taxpayers grow increasingly concerned about our public schools due to the controversies surrounding Critical Race Theory, Budget allocations, mask and vaccine mandates; interest in who sits on local school boards is rising. There is a growing sense that needed oversight of existing board members is necessary as people ask themselves, how did we get in this situation?

Accountability begins with elections, and this November voters in the Dolores School District will decide which of four candidates should fill the seats for two of its five member School Board. One of the positions is an open seat, as no incumbent is seeking re-election. The other is held by Casey McClellan who is asking voters to return him to the Board, and arranged a meet and greet at this home rather than attending a scheduled public forum at the Dolores Community Center by the Dolores Education Association. Mr. McClellan alleged a political bias on the part of the Association in declining to participate despite a public question and answer format to the event, that was moderated by Kelly Turner of KVFC Radio.

Jerry Whited, who previously gained experience as a firefighter and an EMT for the Dolores Fire Protection District and now serves as a Chief for the Dove Creek Ambulance District and as an EMS Captain for the Ute Mountain Utes, is also a candidate for the School Board.

He was asked what his main objective would be, if elected. “I want to give a voice to those needing help understanding and working their way through the legal and administrative process, so that teachers, students, and parents can be successful. There is currently no one on the school board who has direct experience with Individualized educational plans (IEP) and 60% of our students are on some sort of IEP. I have had parents reach out to me for guidance, not knowing what to do. I’ve seen teachers frustrated and ready to leave. I’ve seen the school district turnover, the in-fighting, and the lack of vision. We need to find a way to keep our teachers, work with parents, and make the school a place that excels in learning.”

Heather Barritt, a local gym owner and personal trainer, is another candidate seeking election to the Dolores School Board. Although she did not participate in the DEA forum, Barritt did host a booth at the Dolores Harvest Fest to answer public questions as to her positions. Heather Barritt stated “I stand WITH parents to have the final say so over their own children, not the government. I stand WITH all the students, parents, staff and community members that are tired of the school not listening to them”.

Dr. Lori Raney, who recently retired from Axis Behavioral Health, is a candidate for the School Board as well. She advocates a learning environment “guided by sound public health guidelines.” Dr. Raney believes in addressing social, emotional, mental, and physical health needs of students that is commonly known as Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

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