From the looks of the small number of candidates filing for board of education seats throughout Utah Valley, patrons of the Alpine, Provo and Nebo school districts are either happy with educational leadership or are not concerned enough about it to get involved.
While the Nebo and Alpine districts have at least one candidate running unopposed, three candidates face no competition in the Provo district. The races for seats in the three districts shape up as follows:Alpine School District
The president of the Alpine Board of Education is a shoo-in for another term because no one has filed to run against her. But two other veteran board members up for re-election will not have it so easy.
Board President Jan Lewis said she thought about not running for a second school board term, but after Alpine Superintendent Clark Cox announced he will retire in June, she decided she owed it to the district to seek re-election in District 1.
"I felt it was important to maintain some stability, especially with the superintendent retiring," Lewis said. "It gives us an opportunity to maintain what we've developed. I'm committed to continuing what we have going."
Richard B. Gappmayer, board vice president, is seeking a second term in District 2. He said money will be a big issue in Alpine in coming years.
"I'm sure financing in the schools will be important. Another issue will be innovation in education, such as the extended-day and extended-year programs that we've been moving some of our schools on."
Gappmayer's opponent in District 2, F. Hardy Cherry, also believes school finances are important. He said the district should not accept state funds, although he isn't prepared to say how the district would survive without state funding.
"I'm going to emphasize principles the principles of free agency, of proper control and proper control of funds," he said. "There should be less of a socialist viewpoint on the school board. I think that anytime you turn over your control for money, you're a socialist."
David Harvey, seeking a second term in District 3, said Alpine's challenge is to find the best way to educate students with very little funding.
"I'm quite amazed that we're in as good shape as we are right now considering our low funding," Harvey said. "I enjoy getting the chance to rub shoulders with teachers and principals and finding out how they feel about things."
His opponent, "J" Von Bennett, knows something about Alpine, too, because he's a math teacher at American Fork High School. His background has convinced him the district should put greater emphasis on math and science programs.
"Our math and science programs aren't as active as they should be," he said. Changes are needed, Bennett said, including improvement in teacher morale.
Board members Linda Campbell and Blake Evans are not up for re-election this year.
Election to the Provo Board of Education appears to be an easy move for three unopposed candidates seeking board seats, but one race has shaped up for the District 3 seat.
Those filing for election were incumbent Mossi White in District 1, and newcomers Kenneth W. Clark in District 2, Kenneth W. Matheson and Shauna Walker in District 3, and Gayle M. Chandler in District 4. All five candidates have children attending Provo schools.
The board seat held by David Weight is the only post not up for grabs next year. Clarence Robison, Glen Brown and Walter Hansen will retire from the school board this year after serving several terms each.
White is seeking a two-year board seat. She was appointed by the board last fall after incumbent Ronald Bingham moved out of the district.
She sees the district's economy as "the big worry" for next year. With less money and more students, the board must find ways to continue providing students with a quality education, White said.
For Clark, communicating with school district patrons should be an important board role. He is running for a four-year seat.
Matheson, also seeking a four-year seat, said attracting and keeping qualified teachers, and promoting parental support are important roles in maintaining quality education.
Walker, who is running against Matheson, said her concerns center on improving the quality of education and cutting the district's administrative waste. "They're doing a pretty good job," she said. "And I want to continue that."
Chandler, also seeking a four-year seat, said she would like to see the school district's curriculum monitored and improved. In addition, she supports implementing new technology and rewarding effective teaching.
"Provo School District is one of the leaders in the state and nation, and one reason is because of our superintendent and the supportive board members," Robison said. "It's important that you have people who are strong believers in education and in kids."
Nebo School District
Five candidates have filed for three openings on the Nebo School Board, but the "musical chairs" game shouldn't get too rough.
Board President Collin Allan will run unopposed for re-election in District 2. The district includes Mapleton and parts of Springville and Spanish Fork. Allan has served two four-year terms. He is vice president of First Security Bank in Spanish Fork.
Incumbent Richard A. Johnson, who faces newcomer James Dunn from Benjamin, wants a second term in Nebo's District 3, which includes Lake Shore, Benjamin and part of Spanish Fork. Johnson works as a dentist in Spanish Fork.
Dunn, who teaches education at Brigham Young University, praised Johnson's efforts, but added, "I don't think anyone should run for office unopposed." Dunn said he feels he has the educational background to make sound policy.
"I'm a very good supporter of Nebo education. And I wouldn't mind being a part of it."
A race has also shaped up for District 1, serving Spring Lake, Genola, Goshen, Elberta and part of Payson. Board member Maurine Hiatt will not run for a fourth term. She said she "needs to rest for a while."
Bill White, a retired Utah Valley Community College teacher, lost to Hiatt by four votes in the last election but said he is confident he will win this time.
"I know education, and I have lots of time to put into the job," he said. If elected, White said, he would make sure parents have a stronger voice in their children's education. He said he would spend more time visiting schools than previous board members.
"The south end of the Nebo District has been neglected in the past, and I want to change that."
His competition will be Kaye Westwood, a Spring Lake homemaker who has served on Parent Teacher Association boards for 20 years.
"I know a lot about the educational system and how to work with it," she said. "I have a lot of concern for kids and want to make sure they get the best education they can."
The seats in Districts 4 and 5 will be up for election in two years.