It isn't much of a shock that all three incumbents in the Alpine School Board race say funding is the most important education issue. But voters may be surprised to find one candidate on the ballot who supports the tax-limitation initiatives and one who thinks the board is letting administrators rule the district.
Board President Jan Lewis said she hasn't done much campaigning during the past several months, because she has devoted most of her time to working against the three initiatives that will be on the ballot Tuesday. She was free to do that because she was running unopposed in District 1 until late in October when Ballard Christiansen, Orem, registered as a write-in candidate.But Lewis said that regardless of how the election comes out, she did the right thing.
"I really think (fighting the initiatives) was the most important thing I could have done. I'm just barely feeling a little bit of confidence that the initiatives might be defeated, but I haven't let up my energy toward defeating them," she said. "People are saying, `We feel overtaxed and we really want some relief.' I've become even more committed about how efficient the education system already is. We're so tight, we squeak."
One of the candidates in District 3 thinks board members ought to get a little more involved in the issues themselves. J Von Bennett, who recently retired after teaching in the district for 31 years, said the school board needs a representative who will do more than rubber-stamp administrative policies.
"The first thing I think is that the school board should be responsible for guiding the district, not the administration, and that's a big issue," he said. "I believe the school board should be responsible for finding out what the public wants, and that's not happening."
Bennett agrees with board members on one thing at least - the tax initiatives will harm education. He said his extensive classroom experience has convinced him that schools cannot survive with less money.
Bennett's opponent, incumbent David Harvey, wants voters to defeat the initiatives too, but he also wants them to know board members make their own decisions.
"I've stood up for what I think is right, and I've had a good relationship with the superintendent," he said.
If the initiatives pass, Harvey said the cuts "will just about wipe our district out. My goal is to get the best education for the dollar as possible and create a positive atmosphere for the students to learn in."
F. Hardy Cherry, a candidate in District 2, said students will continue learning whether the initiatives pass or not.
"Our students are getting a better education (than kids in other states), and it has nothing to do with how much money we're spending on them. It has to do with the dedication of the teachers and the dedication of the parents," he said. "If the vision (of the school board) is: `Oh, poor us. We lost money. Let's cut in essential areas,' then yes, education will suffer."
Cherry said the school board's vision must be changed, because "all they ever talk about is money." The board should focus more on education, he said.
Richard Gappmayer, Cherry's incumbent opponent, said he thinks it's odd that a school board candidate would support the tax cuts.
"That's like biting the hand that's feeding you. It only proves that he doesn't know what's going on. We have the district under control. We've hired a new, very popular superintendent (Steven Baugh, who replaced retiring Superintendent Clark Cox), and he's doing a good job of carrying out the board's policies.
"I think the tax initiatives would disrupt the education system," Gappmayer said. "We did not need tax initiatives to tell us to be efficient, because we already have been for years."
Board members Linda Campbell and Blake Evans are not up for re-election this year.