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Second city considers split from Jordan School District

West Jordan, along with South Jordan, considers breaking away from the school district after a previous pricey split.

First Published Jul 09 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Jul 09 2014 08:17 am

West Jordan has joined South Jordan in considering breaking from the Jordan School District, already reduced by a previous split that cost Salt Lake County taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

The West Jordan City Council plans to discuss and possibly vote Wednesday night on pursuing a feasibility study looking into leaving the district, where residents rejected a $495 million bond last year.

At a glance

West Jordan to discuss possible split

The West Jordan City Council is scheduled to discuss the possibility of pursuing a feasibility study for a possible split from the Jordan School District at its meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. at 8000 S. Redwood Road, in council chambers on the third floor.

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The city of South Jordan has already ordered its own study amid concerns that the district isn’t keeping pace with that city’s rapid growth.

Unlike South Jordan, however, West Jordan isn’t interested in leaving because of dissatisfaction with the district, said Chris McConnehey, a West Jordan city councilman. Rather, West Jordan is only looking into it because of the threats from South Jordan.

"If that were to happen, we’re concerned about the effect it would have on residents of West Jordan," McConnehey said. "There are a whole lot of questions about what would the impact be on education. Right now we want to make sure we have every option available to us, and one of those options would also be to do the same and create our own school district."

If the two cities were to break from the district, Riverton, Herriman, Bluffdale, Copperton and southwest portions of unincorporated Salt Lake County would remain.

McConnehey said West Jordan doesn’t necessarily want to split, but leaders want to make sure they have choices should South Jordan leave. The West Jordan council will consider Wednesday night whether to spend up to $46,338 on a study.

The South Jordan feasibility study is expected back by the beginning of August. At that point, that council may vote on whether to place the question of a split on the November ballot. It would ultimately be up to South Jordan voters whether to actually leave the district.

Sandy Riesgraf, a spokeswoman for the Jordan district, said Tuesday district leaders feel the same way about the possibility of West Jordan leaving as they do about South Jordan exiting.

"We just don’t feel it’s in the best interest of the children to split up the district, the opportunities they would miss out on," Riesgraf said.

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Richard Osborn, president of the district board, also said he doesn’t believe a split would be good for kids.

The district board recently approved a formal resolution opposing a South Jordan split.

That resolution claims a split would mean fewer educational opportunities for South Jordan students; increase costs for taxpayers because of the duplication of services; affect the seniority and benefits of current employees; be divisive for the southwest valley; and possibly create other unintended consequences.

They’re assertions with which South Jordan City Councilman Chuck Newton disagrees.

South Jordan, however, still hasn’t completely given up on working out differences with the district.

On July 1, the South Jordan council passed its own resolution asking the district to take a number of actions, including giving the city a plan by July 30 detailing the types and locations of new schools to be located in South Jordan within the next five years.

The South Jordan resolution also calls on the district to evaluate its construction methods "to assure the most efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars."

And it asks the district to present a plan to the city addressing the end of supplemental funding provided to the district under state law following a 2007 split.

Voters on the east side of the district felt their building needs weren’t being met, among other issues, and formed the new Canyons School District.

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