Jordan School District leaders approved an agreement Tuesday to buy out their former deputy superintendent, who left the district earlier this month amid threats of a possible district split.
Richard Osborn, Jordan board president, said the district will pay Burke Jolley for the rest of his contract, which was supposed to go through June 2015. District leaders, however, did not release an exact figure, telling a Salt Lake Tribune reporter to file an open records request for it.
"The terms are confidential, as are all personnel separation agreements," Osborn said at the board’s Tuesday meeting.
But Jeff Hunt, a First Amendment attorney who does occasional work for the Tribune, said such separation agreements are public information, including the amount of any severance.
Osborn told the Tribune on Tuesday: "We’re not trying to circumvent the law. We’re just trying to follow the steps and guidelines so we do things properly."
Jolley said Tuesday he could not comment on his departure per the agreement.
Jolley left the district July 1, amid threats from the city of South Jordan of splitting from the district. City leaders have expressed concern that the district is not keeping up with the city’s rapid growth. Some city councilmen had also wanted to see Jolley leave, South Jordan Mayor Dave Alvord has said.
Osborn, however, said Tuesday the district did not ask Jolley, who was also the district’s business administrator, to leave.
"[Jolley] said, ‘If it will help things, I’ll remove myself,’" Osborn told the Tribune Tuesday. Osborn said Jolley will continue to work for the district as a consultant on special projects but will not receive additional payment, on top of the rest of his contract money, for those services.
The board also further discussed Tuesday afternoon a possible agreement with five cities it serves aimed at preventing a possible split.
Discussions about such an agreement began within the past couple weeks. The agreement would be based on a list of requests South Jordan handed the district earlier this month, mostly centering on planning issues and increasing the cities’ role and involvement in district decisions.
Jordan board members complained Tuesday that a draft of a preliminary agreement seems to ask much of the district but nothing of the cities.
Ultimately, the board and South Jordan Councilman Chuck Newton, who also attended the meeting, agreed to continue working on it.
Newton said if everyone can agree to sign such an agreement, South Jordan won’t likely place the question of a split on the November ballot.
"It’s an interlocal agreement or [placing the question on] the ballot," Newton said Tuesday.
"If we have an interlocal agreement, we’re not going to have a vote about putting it on the ballot."
South Jordan is also awaiting more documents from the district and the results of a feasibility study looking into a possible split before deciding, in late July or early August, whether to put the question before voters.
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