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Pro-voucher members join education board

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A former legislator who is pro-voucher and two people affiliated with charter schools could shake things up as they join the 15-member State Board of Education.

With Tuesday's election numbers in the bag, the board will welcome six new faces and one incumbent — Janet Cannon of Holladay, who is serving her fourth term.

Cannon says she believes there will be "a more pro-voucher voice on the board than we've seen previously."

How that will play out is anyone's guess.

"I have no idea how it's going to go," said board vice chairman Mark Cluff, an incumbent who lost Tuesday.

Cluff added, "There has always been diversity of thought on the board. That is good. It opens up new ideas."

The majority of the board spoke out last year against legislation that would implement a voucher program to allow state funding for families with children attending private schools. Voters turned down vouchers in a 2007 referendum.

The new board members elected Tuesday reflected choices made by the governor's nominating selection committee, which some education officials have accused of being voucher-friendly. The 12-member committee interviews potential school board candidates and recommends to the governor who should run.

The committee did not choose incumbent board member Bill Colbert and board chairman Richard Sadler for re-election this year. Incumbent Teresa Theurer was recommended by the committee but eliminated by the governor.

Sadler declined to comment Wednesday, but Cluff said, "The process does have to change away from a nomi-

nating selection committee. I don't think that is what's best."

Cannon agreed. ""That committee has a lot of power," she said.

Newly elected Dave Thomas, of South Weber, said as a former lawmaker he hopes to be a peacemaker on the board. Thomas was chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and was on the Legislature's Interim Education Committee.

"There has been an antagonistic relationship between the state board and the Legislature for years," Thomas said. "I would like to get everyone on the same page."

Thomas said he was pro-voucher when it was a hot issue, and remains so now. "Parents should have as many choices as we can give them for their children's education," he said.

New board member Kyle Bateman, of Provo, is on the governing board of Provo Freedom Academy charter school and said he supported and voted for vouchers, although it's not the ideal method he would like in parental choice.

Dave Crandall, a new board member from Draper, is board chairman of the Summit Academy Charter School in Draper. He voted in favor of vouchers but said he wasn't completely happy with the proposal.

Three other fresh faces on the state board are Shelly Locke, North Logan; Leslie Brooks Castle, Salt Lake City, and Carol Murphy, Midway.

E-mail: astewart@desnews.com