After more than 15 years on the state school board, Kim Burningham has announced he will not to seek re-election after this year.
Burningham, 77, said that given his age and his wife’s multiple sclerosis, it’s simply time to step down.
“I guess I would probably keep doing it forever, but I’m nearly 80 years old,” Burningham said Monday. “I don’t have the energy I used to.”
Burningham, of Bountiful, served as head of the state school board for many years, including during the tumultuous statewide debate over private school vouchers. The state school board refused to implement vouchers early on while courts were still pondering the law. Ultimately, Utah voters defeated vouchers in a 2007 referendum.
He counted the board’s actions during the voucher debate as an instance where “we certainly were able to make a change.”
“The other big battle is just trying to get increased support financially for education, but that’s a battle that has yet to be won — but must be some day if our children are going to get the kind of education they need,” Burningham said.
Burningham, who was a Republican lawmaker for 16 years prior to his time on the school board, will continue to serve until his term ends in January. He said he will continue to be politically involved, as a member of Utahns for Ethical Government and Utahns for Public Schools.
In a blog post Monday, he urged competent candidates to run for office, saying Utah needs more quality people in elected positions.
“Utah [and much of the nation] has seen increased control in our policy bodies of ultra-right, ‘Tea-Party’-type politicians,” Burningham wrote. “In many cases, their mode of operation is to throw up roadblocks rather than working with other leaders to find solutions. We need politicians interested in solving problems instead of advancing their rigid ideology. We have some; we need more. We need fewer policymakers beholden to power brokers who pull the purse strings of public policy by injections of cash!”