Eric Kelley

Eric Kelley speaking at the Forum on Sept. 29, 2021. 

Eric Kelley’s favorite part of serving on the board so far has been handing out diplomas to high school students. 

“Giving out the diplomas to the high school class was awesome,” Kelley said. “I think it's a huge milestone for young people.” 

Kelley became involved in the school board when he read that nobody was running in District F. He researched the boundaries and found out that he lived in the district. 

“Honestly, when I first read the paper, I thought, ‘Well, that's kind of depressing that nobody wants to be in that position for district F,’” Kelley recalled. “So, I thought maybe I could help.” 

He’s running now for another two-year term, which is required for people appointed to the board.  He will be eligible to run for another 4-year term in 2023. 

He owns a barbershop and has two daughters who have gone through the public school system — one recently graduated and another is a current sophomore. 

After a year of unexpected adversities — “asbestos, ‘the crook,’ and the COVID issues,” — Kelley is proud of the students and all of the district staff for staying resilient. 

“I think that kids are more resilient than we want to give them credit for … I don't think they get as twisted up about things as we do. I think sometimes we make a mountain out of a molehill,” Kelley said.  

Since he was appointed, Kelley has been involved on the master plan committee to formulate a long-term plan to maintain the district’s facilities. 

“We've been fairly deeply involved in a process to develop a plan to deal with the capacity issues because our population is growing, and to deal with the maintenance issues and the money required to keep those facilities in great shape so that the kids will have a great place to get educated,” Kelley said. 

Before he joined the school board, Kelley said that he was very involved in his childrens’ education when concerns emerged. 

“Every time we've gotten involved with the system, the system has responded every single time,” Kelley said. 

At a forum at the Circle 3 Cowboy Church on Sept. 23, Kelley shared that he and his wife had some concerns about their daughter’s health class in middle school, but walked away thinking that the material was appropriate for students that age.

Kelley said that the school district can best serve the community “by making sure that they have an adequate system, from facilities to teachers, that functions well; that educates our children to meet the demands of the modern era” — and prepares graduates for whatever may come after high school. 

He supports the work of current superintendent Carrie Stephenson so far and said that the role of the school board is not to micromanage the leader of the district. 

“I don't know how you're going to get a good quality superintendent to work for a system that's like that,” Kelley said. 

Kelley, who is politically unaffiliated, said that he wants to build consensus and reach common understanding in a hyperpartisan world. He said that the board should center what’s best for the students when making decisions. 

“At the end of the day, I think with the decisions we make, that should be the central question we have: what is best for the children? What's best for the school? A lot of times, it may not be what I necessarily think, but I’m able to reach a consensus with my other school board members,” Kelley said. 

Anna Lynn Winfrey is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

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