Merri Shumway was born in Monticello and raised in Blanding, where she has lived for the past 30 years. In addition to serving on the San Juan School District Foundation, she also serves as the chairperson to the Calvin Black Scholarship Committee, an organization that oversees the Calvin Black Memorial Scholarship for San Juan County students.
Shumway’s primary concerns are growing the regional economy of district two to provide adequate tax funding for schools.
“We need to lobby for ways to increase our economy and have a healthy economy,” she said. “I hear a lot of people say just raise taxes and I understand it’s not that simple.”
As an incumbent candidate, Shumway is currently serving her 18th year as a school board member. This year’s special election is how she plans to complete her career with a final, two-year term.
“I believe that citizens…expected me to serve four years,” she said. “I will run again to finish what I started.”
A mother of five whose children all attended school in San Juan County, Shumway believes that parents are also responsible for educating their children outside of the classroom.
“I consider myself my children’s first teacher,” she said. “In fact, I consider every parent their child’s first teacher and if parents aren’t doing that at home their child doesn’t get a first teacher.”
Shumway finds that low test scores in schools correlates with low socioeconomic conditions in her county – something she hopes to solve by increasing the profit made from public land use and growing local job opportunities.
The fiscal responsibility of the school district, Shumway contends, comes not taxation but cultivating the economic opportunities of the county.
“I’m not an advocate of taking more money out of the pockets of the parents of the kids that we are educating,” she said. “Federal government handouts isn’t necessarily doing our students and our population a favor.”