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West Jordan won't investigate splitting from Jordan District

Published July 10, 2014 9:11 am

Council members say they are against leaving school district, but they wanted to explore options in case South Jordan opts to split.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

The West Jordan City Council decided Wednesday night against conducting a feasibility study to assess a split from the Jordan School District.

The $41,338 study was considered because council members are worried the possible split of South Jordan from the district might hurt residents of West Jordan.

Council members made it clear they oppose any split of the district. But they also agreed they wanted to be prepared in case their southern neighbor votes to leave.

"I think the games that are being played are unfair and unjustified and will create a disaster ... I want to send the message that we do not want to split, but I want to keep our options open," Councilman Justin Stoker said.

The mayor and other council members echoed his comment, but they disagreed on whether to create a feasibility study or use a 2007 version created before the east side of the valley seceded from the Jordan district and became the Canyons School District.

Councilman Jeff Haaga and Mayor Kim Rolfe want a new study available as an option.

"I believe we need to protect our citizens' right to decide our future," Rolfe said. "The feasibility study would allow the residents to have that opportunity to have that on the ballot if things didn't work out. I'm nervous about allowing three members of another city's council deciding the fate of West Jordan."

Councilman Ben Southworth said he didn't feel comfortable approving the motion Wednesday night because the city would have only about three weeks to complete the study in order to place the question of a split on the November ballot. The last study was completed in approximately a year.

"This is something we need to take the time to do it right," Southworth said. "We're a little premature at this point. I would suggest that we do not do this study this evening, that we work with all we have to keep this district."

During a public hearing, residents — mostly in the teaching profession — spoke against funding a study. Several quoted fellow teachers who referred to the last district split, which created Canyons School District, and how it hurt the students and the economy.

The council voted four times on different motions, all of which failed. So it abandoned the idea of a new study.

South Jordan is pursuing a possible split from the district because city officials say the needs of their students are not being met.

The South Jordan feasibility study is expected by the beginning of August, at which point the council may vote on placing the question of a split on the November ballot.

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