Jordan School District fights possible split
Education • District says South Jordan children would lose access to programs.
Published: June 2, 2014 12:23PM
Updated: June 3, 2014 11:27AM

Jordan School District is fighting back against the threat of a possible split from South Jordan.

Children in South Jordan could lose out on high quality curriculum, special education and career and technical education programs if city leaders decide to split from the Jordan District, according to a statement posted Friday on the district’s website.

“The big losers in a district split are the children,” the district statement says. “South Jordan City students would lose access to many Jordan School District programs and courses available to its students.”

They’re all claims that at least one South Jordan city councilman rebuts.

The South Jordan City Council recently decided to spend as much as about $50,000 on a feasibility study looking into a possible split from the district. The results of that study aren’t expected until August, at which point the City Council could vote on whether to place the question on the November ballot. It would ultimately be up to South Jordan voters to decide.

The council decided to order the study out of concern that the district isn’t keeping pace with the city’s rapid growth. Some council members have said they believe other cities are getting the new schools that South Jordan needs.

“It would seem that the Jordan School District isn’t interested in the facts,” said South Jordan City Councilman Chuck Newton, regarding the statement Monday, “and, in fact, the administration of the Jordan School District has a proven record and difficulty in managing the affairs of the Jordan School District, which is why we proceeded to do the feasibility study.”

The statement on the Jordan District website, however, goes on to say that by leaving the district, South Jordan children would lose access to dual-language immersion, the district’s magnet school for gifted learners and special education offerings such as Kauri Sue Hamilton School, Child Development Center and South Valley School.

It also says that current Jordan career and technical education offerings, in areas such as biotechnology, dental assisting, engineering and many other programs, “could take many years to replicate” within South Jordan schools.

Steve Dunham, a district spokesman, said Monday the district posted the statement on its website after the board agreed at its recent study session to create a resolution opposing a split. That’s a change from the last split, he said, when the board remained neutral.

And the statement Friday is actually one of several the district has posted in recent weeks aimed at combatting “misinformation” about a possible split, Dunham said. He said the district began responding to allegations regarding a split after an anonymous flier was distributed to South Jordan residents on the matter last month.

“It was blatant misinformation,” Dunham said of the flier, which alleged the district wanted to raise taxes, among other things.

Dunham also pointed out Monday that the district has a AAA bond rating, showing anything but mismanagement.

Newton, however, on Monday countered the district’s statement, saying South Jordan kids would not lose out on opportunities and programs should voters decide to split. He said a new district could contract with other school districts to offer a number of special education and career and technical programs.

He also said that he’s spoken “extensively” to people who were involved in the last Jordan district split and told him they’re happy they did it.

In 2007, voters on the east side of the Jordan District decided to split because they felt building needs on their side weren’t being met, among other things. East side residents formed the new Canyons School District. That split cost residents of Salt Lake County tens of millions of dollars.