It is rare to see a split vote in the group that approves policy and controls the purse strings for Provo's 18 schools.
Although a member of the Provo School Board may see something differently than another member, the board as a group shares a vision that keeps it pulling in the same direction.That vision may be most succinctly defined in the proposed mission statement of the Provo City School District: "Where people value and support each other through teamwork, innovation and partnerships to assure a quality teaching and learning environment which prepares literate, competent, contributing citizens who recognize their interdependence in a changing world."
The school board members are quick to praise each other and to acknowledge their interdependence.
School Board President David Weight and member Kenneth Clark both expressed particular appreciation for the two women on the board for the extra hours they spend at the schools.
The two women, board Vice President Mossi White and member Gayle Chandler, accompany Superintendent Kay Laursen on his goal-setting visits to the schools in the fall. They also visit each school for mid-year meetings on how the goals are being met and for evaluation sessions at the end of the year.
"As school board members, we do not actively participate in the sessions," said White, but the visits "give us such a complete picture of what is going on in the schools."
The insight gained by White and Chandler is shared with other members of the board, said Weight. Their experiences at the schools, combined with the history each of them has as a volunteer in the schools and the PTA, "bring a different dimension to the board."
School board member Kenneth Matheson described the board as a "very congenial group. We have a good mix, with no hidden agendas or hobby horses."
The school board was unanimous in its assessment that no board member has pet projects or any motives for serving on the board other than to provide a public service.
"Sometimes a person is on a board primarily for recognition," Weight said, but that does not apply to the school board. "This is a working board. People here are into community service."
"It is very seldom we have a split vote," he said, but it is not because the group never disagrees. "If one has a differing opinion, he may express the opposing point of view." But generally, Weight said, the whole board is in agreement after discussion is over and it is time for the vote.
"We're in there to do the best for the kids," White said. "Everyone is open-minded and there are no personal agendas."
She had another explanation for why the board works so well together. "We like each other."
PROVO SCHOOL BOARD: NO ARGUMENTS
David G. Weight
School Board President David G. Weight said the Provo School Board is well-oiled and functioning well.
He is the veteran member of the board, having served 12 years. "We've always had a pretty homogeneous group of people on the board," but it isn't to say the people are all the same.
"We're a pretty casual bunch," he said, "and we tend to get along pretty well. The real differences in opinion show up in some kinds of personnel problems that are closed to the public."
Weight began school board service when he lived in southeast Provo. He was unable to finish his first term because of a move to north Provo. He ran for election in his new neighborhood and has been on the board ever since.
He said the school board is more work than it used to be. The past few years have required more homework from the board members as they have confronted special problems. One example is the budget crunch. There's less money, and that makes careful planning necessary.
A clinical psychologist by profession, Weight is a professor at Brigham Young University and on the medical staff of Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
During his rare hours of free time, Weight likes to paint. He says his biggest interest now is photography, especially nature shots.
One sacrifice Weight has made for the school board is giving up the Ralph Woodward Choral. The Tuesday night rehearsals conflict with school board meetings. Before he was president of the school board, he said, he could attend the rehearsals, but in the past few years the school board has taken more time.
PROVO - Mossi White is the kind of person who puts other people at ease. A warm manner and generous personality make her a natural choice for promoting the interests of Provo schoolchildren.
White is vice president of the Provo City School Board, and she also serves on the board of directors for the Utah School Board Association. She is now running unopposed for the position of second vice president on that board.
As second vice president, she will assist the first vice president and the president. Next year, she will be first vice president and the following year president. During the fourth year, she will continue to serve the new board president as a special adviser.
Born and raised in Norway, White came to Utah with a scholarship to attend Brigham Young University. She married and has lived in Provo for 24 years. Her children have been achievers in the Provo public schools.
White represents southeast Provo on the school board. She said her board work is "tremendously enjoyable. I have learned a lot. The people I associate with are so dedicated.
"Education is the most important legacy we can give to future generations," said White. She spends many hours visiting the schools and serving on education committees. She also spends a lot of time lobbying for education at the Utah Legislature.
School Board President David Weight said White was the first woman elected to the school board in a number of years. He said White spends many hours representing the school board on committees and participating in school programs.
PROVO - When he talks, they listen.
Kenneth Clark is the quietest member of the Provo School Board, soft-spoken and not prone to chatter.
But he has opinions about the matters that come before the board and the other board members are interested in what he has to say.
School Board Vice President Mossi White describes Clark as a deep thinker. "He analyzes things well. When he speaks, everyone listens."
Clark is in his first term on the school board, representing the southwest part of Provo. He has served two years of a four-year term. He ran for the school board after being recruited by his predecessor.
"I worked with Walt Hansen (at his job at Pacific States Cast Iron Co.) and we talked a lot about the school board," Clark said. "He encouraged me to run and here I am.
"My greatest desire on the Board is to see that the greatest benefit comes from available resources."
His major concern is to fulfill the public trust regarding the limited resources, and to stretch those funds "as far as I can."
Clark enjoys his association with other members of the school board and the school district's personnel.
"I'd like to pay tribute to school personnel and the dedicated effort that goes in to the schools. The system is full of wonderfully dedicated individuals."
Three of Clark's children graduated from Provo High School. One is still at Provo High and one child is at Sunset Elementary School.
PROVO - Kenneth Matheson once commented to a neighbor that, if he ever did anything in the way of community service, he would like to be on the school board.
The neighbor was Clarence Robison, who served on the Provo City School Board for 20 years. When Robison decided not to seek re-election, he approached Matheson.
"He encouraged me to run and supported me," said Matheson, who now has served two years of a four-year term on the board.
"I've had kids in all levels in Provo schools," he said. "I love kids and working with the teachers. My interest is in teaching and learning.
"I don't have any particular issues I'm pushing. The contribution I'm making is that I trust the administration."
The school administrators always point out both the positive and negative aspects of whatever they want to do, Matheson said. "We look at both sides. But, as a board, we try to support the administrators.
"They're there on the front lines."
Matheson represents the northwest part of Provo. He lives in Grandview with his wife, Marlene, whom he met when he came to Brigham Young University from Oakland, Calif. They have six children.
In 1981 Matheson became director of LDS Social Services in Provo. He also teaches graduate classes in social work at BYU and does private counseling.
He summed up his experience on the school board by saying it is a "pleasure to work with top quality people. They are professional yet sensitive to others."
PROVO - Gayle Chandler represents Provo's smallest district on the city's school board, but she has big hopes for Provo School District.
"I'm feeling quite good about how things are going. We are striving for a strong academic base," Chandler said, adding that "by and large, Provo School District is very innovative."
If she has a particular goal while serving on the board, she says, it is to get the word out - especially to parents - about what is happening in the schools.
She represents a little piece of Provo in the Oak Hills area. Most of the elementary-school children in the district she represents go to Joaquin and Wasatch schools.
Chandler is one of three of the five school board members serving a first term, although Chandler has served a few months longer.
She already had filed to run for the school board position when Glen Brown resigned, so she was appointed to finish his term. "Then my election came and I was elected."
The biggest challenge Chandler sees for the board is dealing with growth. Several schools in Provo are already overcrowded. Some are even using closets as teaching space.
High on her list of personal accomplishments are the successes of her children: Her oldest son is a Harvard graduate and a Tokyo-based writer for the Wall Street Journal, another son has graduated from law school, her oldest daughter is finishing a master's degree in the University of Utah's creative writing program, another daughter is a freshman at the University of Utah, and her youngest is a student at Provo High.