South Jordan nearing decision on split
Months of arguments, frustration and tension have all led up to the next two weeks — when South Jordan City leaders will finally decide whether to place the question of a school district split before voters.
The Jordan School District board is scheduled to meet Monday night to discuss whether to enter into an agreement with South Jordan and other cities — centered on planning and communication issues — in hopes of preventing a possible split. If the board chooses to enter into the agreement, it could temper some South Jordan City leaders' desire to leave the district.
The South Jordan city council could then decide as early as Wednesday night or as late as Aug. 5 whether to put the question of a split on the November ballot or enter into the agreement with the district.
It's something city council members, school board members and even lawmakers have spent months discussing. Somewhat quieter, however, have been the voices of parents, many of whom have been watching from the sidelines waiting to see if any of this talk leads to action.
South Jordan city leaders first began talking about a split amid concerns that the district wasn't keeping up with the city's rapid growth.
Brice Jensen, a father of six kids, most of whom attend South Jordan middle and elementary schools, said he hasn't been following the issue closely. But on it's face, he's not a fan of the idea.
"It just seems like there's a lot of costs involved in trying to do that, and I don't know if it's necessary," Jensen said.
Many are concerned about the potential price tag and having to duplicate administrative services.
"To me, it's just more division, more money going to bureaucracy and less money going to the kids," said Dalesse Bowles, who will have a sophomore at Bingham High in the fall.
"I think there are too many chiefs already," said David Bankhead, also a Bingham High parent. "I just think it would be too expensive to split and not cost effective."
Jennifer Ngatuvai, a mother of five, most of whom attend South Jordan elementary and middle schools, called the idea of splitting "hypocritical" after what Jordan went through the last time cities split to form the Canyons District. Other districts in Salt Lake County were forced by state law to shift money to Jordan district in the aftermath of that split to help it make up for lost revenue.
"I think if you're going to split off you need to do it in a logical way and not just take one city that has more than others and leave the rest [on] their own," Ngatuvai said. "To take a city in the middle of the district and separate the district like that is wrong."
Eric Hansen, a father of eight kids who attend South Jordan elementary and middle schools and Bingham, said he also doesn't have a lot of information about a possible split, but his initial reaction is that it doesn't sound good.
"I have a hard time believing that South Jordan has the capacity to make its own school district," Hansen said.
He said he plans to attend the South Jordan meeting Wednesday to learn more about the proposal.
On Wednesday evening, the South Jordan city council will unveil and consider the results of a feasibility study looking into a possible split. That feasibility study should answer many of the questions South Jordan residents and leaders have about a potential split. The council will also take public comment about the idea that night.
The council is also awaiting documents requested from the Jordan district and waiting to see if the district's board and the leaders of four other cities within the district will sign the interlocal agreement.
If everyone can sign the agreement, South Jordan won't put the question of a split on the ballot, said councilman Chuck Newton.