Education professor Kay Phelps and construction company owner Casey McClellan were both elected to the Dolores School Board in Tuesday’s election.
The two were the top vote-getters out of seven candidates, with Phelps earning 474 votes and McClellan earning 387 votes. They were elected to serve four-year terms. A total of 1,780 votes were cast for seven candidates.
Phelps has had a lifetime career in education and is currently a professor of teacher education at Fort Lewis College.
Before becoming a professor, she taught students in kindergarten through eighth grade for 31 years, including 13 years in the Dolores School District Re-4A. She was a Fulbright scholar and has a doctorate in education with a focus on school reform.
“It is a real privilege to be elected to the board,” Phelps said. “There is no greater investment than to work on behalf of students and teachers.”
She said her first goal is to listen to board members, teachers, parents and students about their concerns and issues.
Phelps said she is an avid researcher on education topics, and is eager to use those skills for the betterment of the school district.
“Being on the school board aligns well with my life as an education teacher,” she said.
During the campaign, Phelps advocated for connecting students with local, national and global communities through citizen science and service learning. One of her ideas is to encourage entrepreneurship by familiarizing students with successful local businesses such as Osprey Packs and Alpaca Rafts.
She says community forums are a way to get the public more involved in schools and supports replacing CMAS and PARC testing with tests that show quicker student results to better aid teacher instruction. To handle difficult student issues, she said interventions like restorative justice and peer mediation are effective.
McClellan owns McStone Aggregates, a local construction business. He decided to run for school board because he wants to help raise the school’s academic performance.
“It used to be known as the best in the area, and students from outside the district would commute to the school,” he said. “But I’ve seen it drop in the rankings in recent years, so I feel I can help turn that around.”
Each student is different, he said, and school academics be flexible to prepare students for success in college, vocational school, the military or the workforce. Improving student achievement depends on quality teachers, McClellan said during the campaign.
“We have good teachers right now, so the challenge is keeping them,” he said.
He also sees bullying as a problem at Dolores schools and wants a stronger anti-bullying program with more accountability for school leaders to take disciplinary action when it occurs.
In addition, McClellan supports building a competition track either on the current campus or in Joe Rowell Park. Regarding communication with the public, he encourages that concerns expressed by the public at board meetings “should be hashed out right there to get a resolution and not be pushed aside. I looking forward to sharing my concerns with the board.”
The new Dolores school board includes Vangi McCoy, Dee Prock, Deanna Truelsen, Kay Phelps and Casey McClellan.