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Editorial: Families face fallout from failed Jordan school bond

Published January 8, 2014 3:12 pm

Jordan families facing results
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Parents, teachers and administrators in the Jordan School District are coming face to face with the consequences of voting down a half-billion-dollar bond proposal last November. The bond would have allowed the district to build 11 new schools, remodel others and to buy land for future expansion to meet the needs of its burgeoning enrollment.

The district's enrollment has mushroomed to 51,000 students, with more than 2,000 new students expected this fall and 29,000 during the next decade.

It's not quite fair to say families in the five communities covered by the district are getting what they asked for; however, only 33 percent of voters supported the bond, knowing what its rejection would mean. Opponents of the bond apparently convinced the other 67 percent that it is better to deal with the district's explosive growth in other ways. And that is what's happening.

The district is considering how to redraw boundaries affecting 14 existing schools and as many as 2,600 students to better utilize space and relieve some of the most crowded schools.

Next up will be switching at least four schools — Elk Meadows, Terra Linda, Oakcrest and a new elementary school in Herriman — to year-round schedules next school year. And more portable classrooms will be placed on some school campuses.

Most families in the district will be affected by the belt-tightening in one way or another, and many will object. But district officials have little choice.

The bond would have meant a property tax increase of up to $10 monthly for every $100,000 in value on each home. That would amount to a maximum of $300 per year on the average home in the district, valued at $248,000, and $546 per year for the average business.

It was the largest bond proposal in Utah history, and its size may have brought about its demise. Taxpayers were leery of the debt and not fully convinced that district administrators were doing all they could to keep costs as low as possible.

Last year's bond may have been the ideal solution for Jordan's overcrowded schools, but something less than ideal might have a better chance of succeeding. District officials say they have no plans to float another bond proposal anytime soon, but they shouldn't rule it out.

The ideal is the enemy of the possible, they say in politics. And there is a place for compromise in education funding. A smaller bond could provide some relief for Jordan district students, and their interest is what's important.