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State School Board Selection Committee Looks for Open-Minded, Collaborative Candidates

Utah State Board of Education

The nominating committee tasked with narrowing the pool of Utah State School Board candidates began interviewing applicants this morning. The governor-appointed group is questioning 36 candidates from 6 districts about funding, the role of the state board and the controversial common core standards.

Nolan Karras Chair of the State School Board Nominating committee says candidates are being asked to expand on how the board should interact with the governor, the state legislature and the general public—saying the committee is looking for strong collaborators. Candidates were also asked their opinions on the states limited education funds and their views on the common core standards.

“We don’t want to dictate to the school board because we picked certain people, what’s going to happen with common core, but we do want people who are open-minded and critical-thinking and thoughtful about the process,” Karras says.

By Tuesday evening the group of 12 will have whittled the list of school-board candidates down to about 3 or 4 names from each district. Those names will be sent to the governor who will decide which two candidates from each district will make it to the ballot in November. There are seven state school board seats up for reelection, but only six require the candidates be interviewed, because in district 14, there are only three candidates in the running.  

Karras, a former member of the Utah House of Representatives, admits he’s uncomfortable with the nominating process and says he’d would rather the voters decide. 

“But I will say in defense of this, we spent a lot of time reviewing these candidates, their resumes, their answers, and probably most voters won’t spend near the time we spent trying to do this,” Karras says.

Eighteen people applied to fill District 5 school board member Kim Burningham’s seat. He’s retiring after 16 years on the board. That race has since been narrowed to about 8 candidates who the committee will interview on Tuesday. 

Initially about 70 people signed up to run for seats on the board.  

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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