Attend any Dolores School District Board of Education meeting and it is apparent that the community is divided.
That couldn't have been more obvious Tuesday night.
For several months a group of concerned parents have brought legitimate issues to the board. These issues affect them, their families and their children. That group began late last year. It is now nearly April and the group is just beginning to get answers, but not until the board received a lengthy letter from a Denver-based attorney and was threatened with a lawsuit. There were also rumors that if the board didn't start answering their questions, they would attempt a recall of the board and encourage the ouster of the superintendent and high school administration.
Nearly 100 people crammed into the board meeting room Tuesday. Many were the same people who have expressed concerns for more than six months. But there were new faces in the crowd, many of whom spoke up in support of the school board and the superintendent.
They told the board they felt they were doing a good job. And they told the board they supported the superintendent.
While this is great to hear, it was not necessary.
The parent group simply wants answers and the public comment about what a good job the board is doing did little in the way of getting answers. The board has only recently started to answer these questions, and that is sad.
A board meeting should never be a popularity contest. A board meeting is about students, and if concerns are raised, they should be addressed. They should be addressed without the threat of lawsuits and recalls. They should be addressed before 100 people cram into the building, many bringing their own chairs.
In essence Tuesday's meeting was disappointing. These issues have divided the community. A division has always been there - the conservatives vs. the liberals - and Tuesday night's meeting showed how ugly it is. That is too bad. We all are Dolores residents, we all care for those children who attend our schools, and the majority of us sit between the two camps.
Tuesday night's meeting felt a little like you had to pick a side. Us or them, choose. That should never be the case and the leadership of the schools needs to figure out how to bring the community together. The threat of a recall does make it hard. But right now, it is only a threat. No papers have been taken out and no campaign has started.
The focus has been and always should be about our children. If a parent has concerns, deal with it. If a parent doesn't like a decision, show us facts. Show parents that test scores are higher and students are happier with early-release Wednesdays and the subject will be dropped. Meet in closed session regarding personnel and student issues and insults won't be shouted at each other.
Let's hope that the mediator and the diversity and inclusion speaker can heal this community, because it is a great community. It is a community that gets things done. It is a community that volunteers, it is a community that loves high school sports and it is a community that just one year ago had one of the top schools in the state.
Let's hope that it can be a community that comes back together once again. And the community needs leadership that can do that, for public schools have to educate everyone, not just those who agree with your beliefs.
Nobody wants to pick sides, but if we have to, we will pick our children.
Dolores Star editor