The chairman of a partnership between private business and public education said he believes the program will continue despite the death of its director last week.
Donald Holbrook, the chairman of the Utah Partnership of Educational and Economic Development, said he'll meet with its board of directors soon to determine the course of the project.Its future was thrown into question when James Moss, 48, died in an accident Dec. 14. Investigators said Moss suffered a heart attack and swerved off the road on Interstate 15 near Draper.
Moss joined the partnership as its director in April after resigning as state schools superintendent amid rumors that his job was in jeopardy.
Holbrook said he believes the partnership has lost a director whose aggressive nature made him perfect for the job.
"But despite this great tragedy, the partnership is bigger than just one person," he said. "We have no intentions of cutting back on our desire to make a significant contribution."
Holbrook said he has not thoroughly discussed the matter with other board members but believes they'll try to maintain the partnership office and replace Moss with another full-time director.
"I feel that's the only way we can bring about true success," he said.
However, he said the board may consider staffing the office with a volunteer and added that no option has been ruled out.
Funding for the partnership also needs to be addressed, Holbrook said. Gov. Norm Bangerter's proposed budget for 1991-92 includes a $50,000 supplemental request for the partnership.
Colleen Colton, Gov. Norm Bangerter's education adviser, said that money is part of a $10 million budget request to pay for the second of three phases of the Utah Technology Initiative, a program adopted by the 1990 Legislature to put computers in Utah classrooms.
Hints that the partnership might be financially strapped came last October after Holbrook requested that the offices of public and higher education and the state Department of Community and Economic Development Department each seek $50,000 to help pay for the partnership's administrative costs.
The requests were criticized by public education officials and others, who argued the partnership had promised private funding would pay operating expenses.
Critics also questioned whether a separate partnership office was necessary and whether its director ought to receive the more than $90,000 in salary and benefits that Moss was being paid.
Partnership officials later dropped its suggestion that the state agencies fund the program, and instead asked that $100,000 be allocated from state economic development funds.
Colton said the proposed allocation is a request for supplemental funds that may or may not be available.
Holbrook said the partnership would prefer private funding but said fund-raising has been more difficult than anticipated.
Should the Legislature agree to appropriate the $50,000, Holbrook said the partnership still plans on raising $100,000 in private money.