Education funding and more communication with legislators are among the top priorities of the two candidates running for the state school board's District 1 seat.
Incumbent Tami Pyfer said, if re-elected, she will continue to enhance and improve the board's communication with legislators, local charter schools and school districts.
Her opponent, D. Alan Shakespear, said he will fight for more funding from the legislature.
Shortly after being appointed to the board in 2010, Pyfer said she saw the need to develop and improve relationships with legislators and to provide more timely information to legislators and community members.
"I also felt that we could be more proactive in gathering feedback from local school districts and charters and pass that information along to the board and Legislature," she said. "The board subsequently created our communications committee and appointed me as chair of that committee."
Pyfer, 50, a Logan resident, holds a master's degree in special education. She is a clinical instructor, currently working part time as a research coordinator in the college of education at Utah State University. She and her husband, Aaron, have five children.
Pyfer said she believes her experience in community government, including eight years as a member of the Logan City Council, coupled with her professional experience in higher education and personal experience in public education, gives her a broad perspective on the issues facing public education and the impact schools have on communities.
"I take my work on the State Board of Education very seriously and believe that Utah students, families and community members deserve my best effort," she said.
"I like to problem solve. I love to see parents and citizens improving their schools and communities. I don't like it when elected officials make important decisions based on inaccurate and inadequate information."
Pyfer said her experience training teachers for Utah classrooms using online, distance and hybrid instructional models will be invaluable as more digital-based instruction is incorporated into traditional delivery models.
She said her work in community government has prepared her to seek out win-win situations and look for areas of compromise when faced with opposing viewpoints and goals.
"Although Utah faces significant challenges in public education, I am an optimist at heart and believe we have the capacity to continue Utah's tradition of strong public schools," she said.
Shakespear, 44, and his wife, Marcy, have six children, all of whom have received their education in the public school system.
A businessman, educator and farmer, Shakespear lives in rural Box Elder County and owns a commercial real estate development company. He has worked at both the local school district level as a counselor and the state level as an education specialist and IT manager. He is also a farmer and rancher.
"I'm a quick study," he said. "Whether it's learning on my own how to rebuild the school server that crashed, becoming a self-taught database programmer to fill a critical need, or learning how to protect critical customer data from intrusions and cyber attacks, technology has always been one of my strong points."
Shakespear said he has a great interest in all of the educational options that are delivered via technology to students in rural school districts and wants to see those options protected in the face of some recent threats and challenges.
Shakespear said representing voters' top priority as his own would be an obligation and duty. He said the Utah Foundation 2012 Priority Survey lists kindergarten through 12th grade education as the number two priority, second only to jobs and the economy.
The Legislature failed to make a significant investment in education during the boom years prior to the recession, according to Shakespear. As a result, Utah continues to spend less per student on education than any other state, he said.
"I intend to make funding my top priority and help make the case to the Legislature that funding for education also has to be their number one priority," he said.
District 1 covers Rich, Cache, Box Elder, and Morgan counties, and small portions of northern Weber County.