Jordan District split talk continues despite land purchase
The Jordan School District board decided Tuesday night to spend $7 million on land for two possible new schools in the Daybreak development but it might be too little too late for some South Jordan leaders considering splitting from the district.
The board voted Tuesday to buy 32 acres in South Jordan's Daybreak development at 4800 West 10200 South for possible school construction. The decision comes amid discussion in recent weeks among South Jordan leaders about splitting from the district over concerns about whether it will be able to keep pace with the city's quick growth.
Richard Osborn, Jordan district board president, said Tuesday the district has been considering buying the land since before talk of a South Jordan split began.
Jordan board vice president Susan Pulsipher called the decision a "step in the right direction for our relationship [with] Daybreak," and board member J. Lynn Crane expressed appreciation to South Jordan leaders for listening to board members' concerns in recent weeks.
But Chuck Newton, a South Jordan city councilman, said the decision doesn't necessarily change his mind about looking into a split. He called the purchase of the Daybreak land "long past due."
He said the South Jordan City Council plans to discuss at its May 6 meeting whether to issue a request for proposals for a feasibility study on splitting.
"There are so many numerous problems with the district, this is step one of 100," Newton said of the land purchase decision. "We need to be looking at all possibilities to deliver the best educational product at a reasonable price ... and so far the track that we're on with Jordan School District, nothing is reasonable about it."
He called the nearly $220,000 an acre a "ridiculous price."
Tim Ellingson, a South Jordan resident, also questioned the price of the land Tuesday, asking with the recent defeat of a $495 million district bond, "wouldn't it make more sense for the district to be looking at bargain prices in other areas of growth rather than purchasing land at an inflated price?"
And district board member Peggy Jo Kennett voted against the purchase saying, among other things, "I just feel like we're paying top dollar for a property that is not a top dollar property." She said the district's appraiser valued the land at a lower price than the Daybreak appraiser.
Daybreak resident Jo Aldridge, however, encouraged the board to buy the land before its vote.
"It's not a small amount by any means," Aldridge said. But she said: "Daybreak is exploding. We have so many children and there are more coming every day ... and we need these schools."
South Jordan Councilman Chris Rogers, who attended the Jordan meeting Tuesday, called the decision to buy the land a "step in the right direction" but said he'd still like to continue talks with Jordan's leadership. He encouraged the board to expedite projects on the new land.
Earlier this month, members of the Jordan board met with South Jordan leaders to discuss their concerns. Newton said he felt "nothing" came out of what he said was a nearly four hour meeting.
South Jordan city leaders also met in February with the mayors of three cities that split into a new district, the Canyons District, in 2009, to ask them about their experiences and for their advice.
That split followed complaints from east side residents that construction needs on their side were being overlooked in favor of those on the district's fast-growing west side, among other issues.
That split cost taxpayers throughout Salt Lake County tens of millions of dollars.