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Murray Journal

Merrill retires from Murray School Board, Taeoalii appointed

Jul 01, 2022 09:24AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Glo Merrill retired from the Murray City School District Board halfway through her second term. At the June 7 Murray School District Board of Education special meeting, Kelly Taeoalli was chosen out of four applicants to fill out the remainder of Merrill’s term that ends in December 2024.

Merrill was first elected to the board in 2016 and re-elected unopposed in 2020. She had already retired from the school district, having served as Director of Career and Technical Education. Previously, she served as Assistant Principal for Murray High School and a business education teacher.

Along with Taeoalii, three other residents of Murray School District Precinct 1, Mitchell Tate, Ali Lyddall and Yandary Chatwin, submitted applications to be appointed to the board. After interviewing the candidates in an open meeting, board members Jaren Cooper, Kami Anderson, Belinda Johnson and Elizabeth Payne voted. Taeoalii received three votes, while Payne cast her vote for Chatwin.

According to Taeoalii, she has considered running for the board in the past.

“The timing is perfect. I don’t have small children anymore. I have more time to spend on it. Things just sort of lined up. And the thought of serving my community in this way without the stress of running a campaign was quite compelling,” Taeoalii said.

A Salt Lake Community College alumna, Taeoalii has served in the Parent-Teacher Association since 2003. She is the mother of six children, with four that have graduated from Murray High School and two currently attending the school. She has served on various committees in the school district, including the Facility Planning, Dress Code, Sex Education, and Behavior BLT committees.

“I knew two of the applicants, and they are wonderful people. My husband was in the public meeting and heard all the interviews and agreed that there were great strengths in all applicants. I think I stood out because of my extensive experience. I am ready to hit the ground running, and that is what is needed at this time. There won’t be a new board member training from the state until after the election in the fall,” Taeoalii said. 

Board members asked the applicants what they perceived to be the school board’s role and how they would balance the needs of the stakeholders in the community. The board also asked why they were interested in the board, their involvement, and what they saw as the district’s most pressing needs.

“I don’t really have a soap box I stand on,” Taeoalii said. “I trust that generally everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. If I had to pick something, I would love to advocate for better funding from the legislature. I appreciate that we have the trust lands funds in Utah set aside for each school and am impressed with what is done with those funds. I have seen many school trust land plans that include paying for teachers or aides that I feel really should be funded by the state. I would love to have trust land funds freed up for more unique programs and supports that can be determined by the community councils based on each school’s needs. I would love to take a load off teachers’ backs by giving them the aides and class sizes they need.”

Taeoalii would like to reduce teacher burnout.

“I have heard time and time again from teachers and administrators that teaching through Covid was difficult, but this past year has been the hardest. Ever. Dealing with the behaviors and needs of students coming out of these unprecedented experiences has been extremely difficult. Everyone is trying to figure things out, and I am sure we will get there, but it has been and will be a challenge,” Taeoalii said.

She also said that there are facility issues that she hopes to address.

“Several of our schools were built about the same time thanks to FDR’s New Deal. They are now aging out at about the same time, and there hasn’t been a plan for replacement. To fix all that needs to be fixed would be quite expensive, and we would still have old buildings with more problems right around the corner. To rebuild all the buildings that need to be redone would necessitate an unrealistically large bond that isn’t feasible. There are capital funds available to repair and update things here and there, but there will need to be a bond for the big projects that are needed, and times are tough for most everyone financially,” Taeoalii said. “There is no easy solution.”