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Short takes on issues

Published August 3, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sexy leggings • It's good advice, both for parents and school administrators: Choose your battles carefully. School dress codes and their clashes with current fashion have been around since girls won the OK to wear something other than dresses and skirts to school. Dresses and skirts that fell well below the knee. Today the issue is girls wearing leggings, a comfortable clothing item that doesn't show much skin but can be so tight as to be practically invisible. And, of course, there are all kinds of leggings, so banning the "worst" requires a careful definition of what constitutes "distracting" and "immodest." A dress code addressing leggings might have to be so detailed that it becomes banned reading material. It seems the more attention a fad is given, the longer it's likely to last. Maybe school officials should just let the vagaries of fashion eventually take care of the problem.

Big money • Wow. Jordan School District is likely to ask voters to approve a bond of more than $500 million. That's more than a half billion dollars, the largest bond proposal in Utah history. By any standard, it is a lot of money and would result in an average additional monthly tax bill of $25. But, put in perspective, the need becomes evident. The U.S. Census Bureau ranks South Jordan second among the nation's fastest-growing large cities. Between July 2011 and July 2012 South Jordan's population jumped 4.87 percent to 55,934. Herriman and Riverton have also seen rapid growth. And the school district has seen 4.8 percent annual growth since 2000. The bond would pay for eight new elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and a new applied technology center along with needed remodeling and renovation for 30 schools. If the project includes seismic upgrading, and underused schools are closed, it seems in its early stages to be worth the money.

New normal heat • We're not telling you anything you don't know, but Utahns are experiencing record hot weather. July was the hottest on record, and that makes the seventh "warmest July on record" since 2002. As uncomfortable as it is, the heat is also dangerous. It contributes to conditions ripe for wildfires, hurts farmers and orchardists and uses up our diminishing water supply. The likelihood, given predictions of climate scientists, is that the heat and changing precipitation systems are not an aberration but the new normal for the American West. Policy makers should begin taking this reality into account, if Utah stands to continuing prospering into the future.