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Utahn a finalist for U.S. post

Utah State Board of Education chairman Kim Burningham is one of two finalists for the position of president-elect of the National Association of School Boards of Education. If elected, he would serve three years in the national organization's leadership.

Burningham said his opponent is a fellow Westerner, Gary Waters, who heads the Nevada state board. "That is most unusual," said Burningham, since leadership positions tend to go to representatives from larger states. He believes his election would give Utah an opportunity to get issues such as federal ownership of land in the West before influential groups, including Congress. Significant federal land involvement in some states becomes an education problem, he said, because those lands do not yield taxes to support education.

Balloting ends in early June and new officers are installed during the association's convention in November, he said.

The election coincides with some major issues, including the national No Child Left Behind initiative and a shift to competency-based education, Burningham said. Utah is one of the leaders in developing education plans based on a child's learning rather than seat time, he said.

Burningham was a teacher at Bountiful High School for 27 years and served 15 years in the Utah Legislature.

Another Utah State Board member, Janet Cannon, has been nominated to represent the Western Region on the NEWSBOY national board, Burningham said. She is unopposed, so Utah will have a voice in the organization's hierarchy whether or not he is elected, he said.