The differences between incumbent Davis School Board member Ray Briscoe and challenger Wayne Westergard are between an experienced school system insider and an outsider with a fresh perspective, the two Precinct 1 candidates say.
Westergard, 53, a Woods Cross resident and an engineer at Unisys, believes Briscoe is too much an insider in the school system and a change is necessary. He said Briscoe, an eight-year board veteran, represents special interests, including the Davis Education Association."One of my concerns is that politics becomes a way of life with an individual and that they want to stay in that position almost their lifetime. That's not good because they are pretty soon representing the system rather than the people," Westergard said. "I think it is time for a change."
Briscoe, 56, a Bountiful resident and researcher for the LDS Church, denies any connection to special interests and said he has represented his constituency. He cited votes during his tenure that have brought a computer system to Bountiful's Orchard Elementary School, purchased school sites on Bountiful's east bench, built a new Woods Cross Elementary School and helped get an auditorium for Woods Cross High School.
The Precinct 1 seat represents southeast Bountiful, North Salt Lake, West Bountiful, Woods Cross and nearby unincorporated areas.
Briscoe is likely to receive a large share of the teacher vote. The Davis Education Association gave Briscoe a 9, its highest ranking of any school board candidate. Westergard, who admits he doesn't have a good "rapport with unions," received a 6.1 rating.
Briscoe contends that the school board, which already is losing two incumbents, needs his experience and expertise. The other two board members have served only two years each.
"If I'm not elected, our school board will be run by our superintendent," He said. "My knowledge base of education - the business and structure - and a doctorate in curriculum are unique."
Briscoe also has served as a consultant to several school districts. Westergard admits his exposure to education may not be as far-reaching as Briscoe's, but sees his service in community affairs as a strength.
Briscoe and Westergard differ on who should make policy for local schools. Westergard said he believes in a more authoritarian approach - the school board and no one else makes school policy. At the same time he supports more community involvement.
"You cannot begin to run a company with each entity doing its own thing without central requirements, rules and plans," Westergard said.
Briscoe supports having teachers, principals and parents at local schools develop their own programs with general policy direction from the school board.
Westergard, for example, believes that the district's policy on drug-sniffing dogs ought to have more teeth. He wants to mandate how often district principals bring the dogs into the schools. Briscoe said he believes the policy is a tool for principals to use at their discretion and wants to leave it that way.
Westergard and Briscoe also differ on the recent policy of mandatory AIDS reporting adopted by the school district. Westergard wants children and district employees with AIDS to be required to report it. Briscoe said, while he thinks a district policy is necessary, the mandatory reporting provision threatens some civil liberties. He voted against the policy.