After a monthslong application process, the Dolores School District RE-4A has a new superintendent.
At a special board meeting Thursday night, directors voted 3-2 to offer the job to Elisabeth Richard, a superintendent in the Creede School District. Board president Kay Phelps and board member Deanna Truelsen voted against Richard.
“Thank you to everyone for your time and your commitment to help our school,” board treasurer Lenetta Shull told residents in the room, many of whom had been involved in the selection process.
Richard has accepted the job, according to Phelps.
“When I called Lis to offer her the position of Dolores superintendent last night, she very graciously accepted, saying that she looks forward to learning with and becoming part of the Dolores community,” Phelps told The Journal in an email Friday. “We’re very optimistic about moving forward with Lis Richard. She brings a wealth of experience in Restorative Practice, curriculum alignment, trends in education, school budget and finance, and more.”
Her contract begins July 1.
Richard was one of four finalists that visited Dolores last week for the final phase of the application process, which included a community meet-and-greet on Monday and team interview sessions on Tuesday.
She was joined by John Marchino, dean of students and athletic director in Dolores, along with Silvia McNeely and Patrick “Tony” O’Brien, both superintendents who have served in Oklahoma. According to Phelps, 15 candidates applied.
“We were looking for a good match for our community,” Phelps said Thursday. Board members considered qualities such as strong leadership and interpersonal skills, and a strong understanding of curriculum, policy and budgetary issues. Directors also wanted someone with superintendency experience.
John Merriam, a representative from the Colorado Association of School Boards, assisted directors throughout the selection process.
The board had expected to select a final candidate last week, but extended the timeline after directors felt that they needed time to make their decision.
“After Tuesday’s interviews, we felt we could not contract with two of the candidates, which left us with two finalists,” Phelps told community members at a special board meeting last week. “Since we continue to receive information that is critical to our decision, we need time together to review these documents and to consult with John Merriam by phone.”
Phelps said the review of the candidates was confidential.
This week’s board meeting saw high attendance. The meeting kicked off with an executive session, during which time directors reviewed the unspecified candidate documents in an hourlong private meeting.
Directors did not elaborate on their decision to select Richard, and Phelps and Truelsen did not explain their opposition. However, all directors expressed satisfaction with the result and the overall selection process.
Richard comes to the area from Creede, about three hours northeast of Dolores. She has worked in education for more than 30 years, according to the Creede district website, and has served on the Rural Education Council for the Colorado Department of Education.
At the meet-and-greet on March 25, Richard said she has family around Dolores and that she and her husband planned to relocate to the area even if she didn’t get the job.
“I feel like I’m the biggest servant here, I have to work hard for (staff) so they can do their job well,” she told The Journal at the event. “That’s what I enjoy, is empowering others.”
Now that she has accepted the position, contract negotiations will begin soon, according to Phelps.