Murray residents will choose only one of two Murray Board of Education seats on Tuesday. Two candidates are running for the Precinct 5 seat, while the Precinct 1 candidate is unopposed.
Throughout the fall, consolidation has been on every board meeting agenda. The Legislature is investigating the financial consequences of school district consolidation, and Salt Lake County's four school districts paid for educational consultants to study the issue. The report said consolidation would be more costly than operating the current four school districts.All Murray candidates oppose consolidation, as they stated in a Deseret News questionnaire that was returned before the consolidation report was released.
The three Murray school board candidates say they are opposed to the tax-limitation initiatives.
An educator and a physician are vying to replace Chairman George I. Brown, who has served three terms on the board. The candidates are R. Kim Davis and Sherry Madsen in Precinct 5, which covers southeastern Murray.
R. Kim Davis, a University of Utah associate professor of head and neck surgery, has written more than 50 books and articles on professional topics. He has served on a national level in the educational programs of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and received its certificate of honor for educational achievement in 1985.
Davis and his wife, JoNell, are the parents of six children. He said he feels fortunate to have lived in nationally recognized school districts in Maryland and Massachusetts. "I strongly feel this perspective is critical in Murray. Murray needs to have vision beyond Murray, or even beyond Utah."
The candidate believes the school district's greatest strength is Murray's residents, who have high educational expectations. He also thinks that the school district's small size (the smallest in the county, with 6,300 students) lends itself to efficiency without unduly expensive administrative costs.
In the next few years, Davis would like Murray to have significant development in gifted and talented programs and an increase in the core academic programs, specifically math and English, for all students. He believes Murray High's honors and advanced placement programs need to be expanded.
He said funding for such expansion can come from additional revenue raised by the Murray Foundation and federal educational grants, where he reports significant experience.
Sherry Madsen, Newspaper in Education coordinator at the Deseret News, is a former elementary school teacher. She has worked with youth groups and been active in the PTA. She is the state Newspaper in Education chairman of the Utah Council of the International Reading Association.
She and her husband, Calvin, have five children who are in or have graduated from Murray schools.
Madsen feels her educational background would make her an asset to the school board, allowing her to be both a sounding board and effective action taker.
She too feels Murray's small size is its strength. The number of pupils, educators and administrators make it a comfortable size "to get the job done without losing sight of one student."
Consolidation would be "counterproductive to the strengths that make Murray School District not only unique and multioperable but complete and multiproductive," she said.
The candidate also wants continuity among the starting times in elementary, junior and senior high school and better correlation with community events so families can arrange their schedules more easily.
She favors a yearly teacher recognition program for every Murray school, plus she'd like to push for more scholarships for Murray High School students who are going to pursue higher education.
In northwestern Murray, Margaret D. Nelson is running unopposed for the seat that has been held by J. Dale Ahlberg for four terms.
Margaret Nelson, a homemaker and former high school teacher, has served in the Utah State PTA leadership as secretary of the Legislative Action Committee and regional director of the Community Involvement Committee. She has also been active in the Murray Council PTA, including serving as president, and is a board member of the Murray School District Foundation.
Nelson and her husband, Ronald, are the parents of six children who are attending Murray schools.
Because of her PTA involvement and teaching background, Nelson said she has adequately prepared herself to be an effective member of the Murray Board of Education.