ST. GEORGE – Michelle Boulter has won the race for a seat on the Utah state board of education, District 15.
Early Wednesday morning, county votes were still being tallied in the wake of Tuesday morning’s voting machine snafu that had poll workers relying on paper ballots.
Boulter won with 52.2 percent of the vote; opponent Wesley Christiansen had 47.80 percent; according to the Utah election results webpage.
Both candidates ran independently. Boulter received 35.85 percent of votes in the June primary election while Christiansen received 24.56 percent.
Both candidates favored more local control over education but differed in their opinions on rejecting federal money outright.
Boulter believes Utah should forgo accepting federal funds for education in favor of more local control, saying Utah receives less than 10 percent of total funding from the federal government.
“I would like to see a budget drawn up without the federal monies so that we can have this discussion,” she told St. George News in an earlier interview.
“To my knowledge, this has not been done. If we really want our autonomy back, then I believe it’s worth taking a good hard look at it.”
Boulter believes that under current educational reforms, parents come in last, she told St. George News during her campaign.
“There is a trend of lumping parents into a list of ‘stakeholders’ in their children’s education. This is wrong. We have a duty to work closely with parents who see the effects of state and local board decisions in the lives of their children,” she said, adding that while the support of other stakeholders is appreciated, they should never be placed on equal footing as a parent.
“Remove all mandates out of the classrooms that are currently happening with these new education reforms,” she said. “Stop micromanaging our teachers.”
During her campaign for the school board seat, St. George News asked Boulter about financial irregularities uncovered in two recent audits of the Washington County School District. She said mismanagement of money is not limited to local school boards. The state office of education acknowledged in a Feb. 2 appropriations committee hearing that it does not have adequate grant management systems in place, and warned of the potential mismanagement of billions of dollars, she said.
“As for Washington County School District, I feel this would be best handled at the local level making sure that the district answers to the taxpayers. I would hope that a thorough investigation was done into how this happened,” she said.
Boulter would like to see parents brought to the table in discussions regarding their children.
“I firmly stand for the fundamental right of parents to guide the educational decisions of their children,” Boulter said. “Unfortunately, with the new reforms, this fundamental right of parents to guide their child’s education has been flipped on its head.”
State school board
The state board of education has a number of responsibilities:
- Appointment of the state superintendent of public instruction.
- Adopting administrative rules directed to the whole system.
- Establishing minimum standards for public schools.
- Making rules that establish basic ethical conduct standards for licensed public education employees.
- Defining and implementing a core curriculum.
- Prepare and submit a budget for the operation of the institutions and agencies under the Board; submit the budget annually to the governor and Legislature.
- Set and approve auditing standards for auditors employed by local school boards and charter schools.
- Verify audits of financial and student accounting records of school districts and charter schools to determine the allocation of Uniform School Fund monies.
- Management of the Utah Office of Education and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.
For more information, see the board’s website.
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