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State school official ending 30-year career

Deputy state schools superintendent Laurie Chivers is closing the door on a 30-year career in education and finance and going home.

After seven years of balancing state school finances and previous work for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and crunching numbers for the Legislature and Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, Chivers is leaving for her Massachusetts hometown to be close to family and focus on her adopted twins as they enter high school."I'm just taking early retirement and moving to Massachusetts because it's time to go home," said Chivers, 51. "I want (my children) in a rural community and I want them around my family," not to mention a 700-student high school with class sizes far lower than in Utah's public schools.

As colleagues at the State Office of Education wish her well, they lament losing someone they say is one of the best.

"She will leave a huge hole in the State Office of Education," said Steve Laing, state superintendent of public instruction, who will publicly announce her early retirement at a Utah Board of Education meeting Friday.

"Laurie is extremely capable and competent and she has in her area of expertise, which is school finance, an almost unparalleled background of experience and knowledge."

Laing is talking to people outside Utah interested in replacing Chivers but has not decided whether to conduct a national search. Chivers' retirement effective date is not firmed up but will fall sometime in mid- to late July.

Chivers, who attended Brigham Young University and earned her doctorate from the University of Utah, began her career as a middle school math teacher in Murray and Massachusetts. She also has worked as minority education policy director for the U.S. Senate, an aid to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah and a fiscal analyst for the Utah Legislature.

Chivers is known to rush to scuba lessons to de-stress, to sky dive and even to run in the St. George Marathon to celebrate the life of friend and colleague Doug Bates, who has pancreatic cancer. But she is unsure of career plans outside motherhood in Dalton, Mass. But maybe she'll learn how to build houses, go back to school or get involved politically.

"I figure I'm halfway through my adult life," she said. "Now it's time to have fun and focus more on my kids."

Chivers has taught seven years in Utah, one year in Massachusetts, and is former president of the Murray teacher's association. She also was director of finance for the state office of education before taking her current post.

"It's an unfortunate thing, certainly to our chagrin," John Watson, chairman of the State Board of Education, said of Chivers' departure. "She's been a wonderful asset for the state of Utah . . . she just brings with her so much experience that most people don't have."